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Reflection: Action blockade of tear gas manufacturer - John Bergen, August 26, 2020

Last Monday, August 17, 2020, I participated in an early-morning blockade of Combined Systems, Inc., one of the largest tear gas manufacturers in the US, which is located in Jamestown in Western PA. It was powerful to stand in my nonviolent Mennonite lineage, opposing a company that profits from teargassing people here in Philly and around the world. I served as the “Worker Liaison,” meaning that it was my job to talk with and deescalate security guards and anyone driving by trying to get into the factory. This too was powerful: I had meaningful conversations about worker safety and health, and I had lots of people scream at me. Unfortunately, some people were not please by our presence, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at peope, and threatened violence. For many who participated in the action, it was really scary. It is powerful to see what a nonviolent action can provoke, and I continue to pray about what more we can do to keep each other safe (especially in multi-racial groups) in situations where police or vigilantes may become violent. You can read more here:

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