Activism Guide – Spring 2021

Amnesty International is built on the idea that people coming together against injustice can be a game-changer! The sum of each of our actions creates a powerful force that has proven to be effective in igniting positive social change. Use this guide to take action this year, and check back frequently for updates and new actions!

  1. Share this guide with your group to become familiar with AIUSA’s key campaigns and programs, which all groups are asked to work on.
  2. Use the Key Activism Dates and Take Action sections for each human rights issue to help you build your action calendar.
  3. Let us know what you’re working on! We’ll make sure you have resources for each area and update you when new information or tools are available. If you need support in getting started with virtual activism, let us know.
  4. Get creative! The Activism Guide provides you with the basics, but we hope you’ll use it to put your stamp on our work. Let us know your plans and if you need any ideas or support.

View Resources for Amnesty Groups to support your activism during COVID-19.

Important Calendar Dates

Check out the AIUSA Events Calendar for opportunities in the coming months.

PRIDE 2021

End Gun Violence: Congress Must Fund Community-Based Gun Violence Prevention Organizations

Guns are killing more and more Americans every day.  In 2020 more Americans died from gun violence than in the past two decades.  Homicide is the third leading cause of death for children and teens of all races in the US and the leading cause of death for Black children and teens.  The legacy of gun violence in America is not one our youth should have to carry forward.


Communities have the power to end gun violence, but they need long term financial and political support.  Heroes in communities across the country have been working with lifesaving programs as violence interrupters, conflict interveners, mentors and support systems for many young people affected by gun violence.

Amnesty International is urging the 117th Congress to introduce and pass the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which will provide $5 Billion dollars over 8 years to fund evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs. These programs offer life-changing opportunities and facilitate collaboration among communities of color, hospitals, police and other public institutions.

What you can do

Take action by email, phone, and Tweet, calling on your Representative and two Senators in Congress to introduce and pass the Break the Cycle of Violence Act.

Share the story of the Heroes doing work in communities across the country.


FREE PEOPLE FROM ICE DETENTION: No ONe should be locked up in danger

More than 100 days into his term, President Biden has taken some welcome steps to reverse anti-immigrant policies of the past, but he must fulfill his campaign promise to create a just and humane immigration system and advance racial justice in the United States. Over 20,000 immigrants and asylum-seekers, most of whom are Black and brown, are still locked up by ICE, and this number continues to rise at an alarming rate when it should be going down. With well-documented reports of assault and abuse, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and negligent medical care in ICE facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made detention all the more dangerous. Meanwhile, the detention of immigrants and asylum-seekers continues to be a booming business for private prison companies who run the majority of ICE detention facilities.

Amnesty’s advocacy and activism has shone a light on the egregious harms caused by the current system of detention, helping many get released. We have the power to convince our country’s leaders and government officials to reset the immigration system for good. Now we must double down on our call to the Biden administration to free immigrants and asylum-seekers from ICE detention and end ICE contracts with private prison companies and county jails.

What you can do
  1. Reach out to DHS Secretary Mayorkas via email, postcards, and social media and urge him to take immediate steps that would free people from ICE detention
  2. Free Maura, a transgender woman seeking humanitarian protection and locked up for over two years: Email ICE, send ICE a letter of community support for Maura (student groups should reach out to [email protected] and local groups to [email protected] for action guidance), and write Maura solidarity cards
  3. Call on Congress to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act and Freedom for Families Act, and discuss these bills with your elected officials (let us know how your meetings went)
  4. Raise your voice and public awareness through local op-eds and letters to the editor (reach out to [email protected] to pursue this media tactic) and on social media to share our online actions

Ban the Scan: End Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

Amnesty International has launched a global campaign called Ban the Scan, calling for a ban on police use of facial recognition technology (FRT). This technology uses existing cameras in combination with new software and commercial databases to track almost any individual by face, comparing footage to millions of images stored in government databases and scraped from social media accounts without consent.

Police use of FRT is a fundamental threat to our right to privacy, as it allows the law enforcement to conduct indiscriminate mass surveillance. It can also have a chilling effect and seriously deter peaceful protest, thereby undermining the right to peaceful assembly and the right to expression. Finally, it has a disproportionate impact on Black activists and other marginalized groups, given the extent to which Black and Brown communities are already over-policed and over-surveilled.

The Ban the Scan campaign launched on January 26th in New York City, calling on the New York City Council to ban NYPD’s use of this technology. Over the coming year the campaign will expand to cover different cities and regions worldwide, including New Delhi, the West Bank and Ulaanbaatar.

What you can do
  1. Become an Amnesty Decoder and help identify all NYPD surveillance cameras in New York City
  2. Sign the petition calling on the Speaker of the New York City Council to ban police use of facial recognition technology

Pride 2021

Every year Amnesty International USA celebrates Pride with LGBTQI+ activists around the world– celebrating our pride and standing for our rights! This year as the world opens back up, let us show our PRIDE and build a better “normal” where LGBTI rights are fully protected, respected, and fulfilled.

Amnesty International USA is highlighting four focus cases during Pride month this year:

  • Passing the Global Heath, Rights and Empowerment (HER) Act to ensure global health and rights for LGBTI people globally and permanently end the Global Gag Rule.
  • Acquitting Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür, who have been prosecuted for celebrating LGBTI rights in Turkey.
  • Demanding justice for Vitalina Koval, a Ukrainian woman human rights defender and an LGBTI activist, who was attacked after speaking about women’s and LGBTI rights at a protest in 2018.
  • Freeing Maura, a Nicaraguan trans woman seeking protection, who has been detained by ICE for two years.
What you can do

Check out our Pride Activism Page for actions you can take, ideas for organizing, and resources to learn more about LGBTI rights. Take Action!