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Waging Peace: Mary Liepold and Eli McCarthy

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Changemaker Of The Week

In the midst of so much chaos and confusion that descended on America’s capitol last week, it brings us hope to know that The Pollination Project’s spirit of peace and kindness was also present on that day. 

In 2017, Mary Liepold and Eli McCarthy received seed funding to help develop the DC Peace Team (DCPT). DCPT’s long-term goal is culture change. Its vision is the Beloved Community, where individuals collaborate nonviolently to achieve justice for all. It grew out of one founder’s experience with Nonviolent Peaceforce, which offers unarmed civilian protection and support to communities in conflict outside the US; another’s with the Homecomers program of personal transformation, learning, and service for the formerly incarcerated; and a third’s four decades of peace education with children, youth, and adults. 

Together, this group is committed to unleashing the power of ordinary civilians to increasingly become nonviolent people. They live this mission by deploying unarmed civilian protection units, providing training in key nonviolent skills, and facilitating healing circles. 

Few occasions in recent history have called for these skills more than the events of January 6, 2021. As the Capitol was stormed and a woman was killed, the DC Peace Team offered protective accompaniment to local grassroots groups and individuals at risk in the streets of DC. In one incident, a white man in camouflage brandished a knife at a black man during a heated verbal exchange. A DC Peace Team member walking alongside them moved closer to the armed person. The DCPT member engaged him with short de-escalatory phrases, such as “let’s slow down, you don’t need that weapon, you can put that away, this is not going to help anything, etc.” The armed person backed off a couple steps and others from his side came to pull him back. After some more verbal exchanges and walking up the street, the situation was defused. 

The DC Peace Team also helped provide accompaniment to individuals trying to get out of the area and worked with other local groups, particularly centering the voices of black leaders, in setting up a network of such activity for that evening. In addition, some of their members engaged in various empathy generating conversations.  It is their urgent hope that America turns toward creative, bold, nonviolent strategies to deal with future conflicts.

The DC Peace Team has many upcoming online trainings open to anyone, even outside of the DC area. Sign up and learn more at https://dcpeaceteam.com/.

Written by Carolyn Ashworth