Activism Guide – Fall 2020

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 Tools for Virtual Amnesty Groups to support your activism during COVID-19.

Important Calendar Dates
  • Sep 7th – Oct 2nd: ActivismX back to school actions
  • Sep 27th – Oct 3rd: Banned Books Week
  • Sep 15 – Oct 31: Weekly calls, emails and letters on behalf of families in detention — Sign up
  • Oct 8: Registration opens for the 2020 Activism Conference
  • Oct 10: World Day Against the Death Penalty
  • Oct 28th: Monthly Membership Call

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



In conjunction with National Banned Books Week (Sep 27-Oct 3) Amnesty International draws attention to writers, editors, librarians, publishers and readers who suffer human rights violations because of their work. Due to the proverbial “power of the word”, many journalists and artists are under attack around the world — by governments or by opposition groups.

What you can do
  1. Join the September 24th Banned Books Week event Silenced Voices and invite your group members or others in your community.
  2. Take action on this year’s Banned Books cases.


Amnesty International USA released a distressing new report, The World is Watching: Mass Violations by U.S. Police of Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Rights, exposing gross human rights violations by U.S. law enforcement officers against Black people, Black Lives Matter protesters, journalists, legal observers, and medics across the country, over several weeks between May and June 2020. We’re moving quickly to distribute the report to local police and government officials on the local, state, and federal levels — and to demand an official response to the report’s key recommendations. 

What you can do
  1. Join the September 10 teach in on this report and actions you can take in your community.
  2. Send the report directly to your governor.
  3. Plan a virtual or in-person report drop off.
  4. Learn about the cases of journalist Andrea Sahouri and Black Lives Matter protester Derrick Ingram and take action to demand justice.
  5. Call your Senators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.


Over twenty thousand immigrants and asylum-seekers continue to be needlessly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the COVID-19 global health pandemic, including families with children forced to flee their home countries because their lives were in danger. Instead of prioritizing their health and releasing individuals and families together so they can be safe, ICE has kept them locked up in detention to face these turbulent times alone, in detention facilities with inadequate medical care and crowded, tinderbox-like conditions. They are in extreme danger, with disease outbreaks and rapid spread already occurring. People have tragically died from COVID-19 related complications while in ICE custody. Every death that occurs in immigration detention is a preventable one. ICE must release immigrants and asylum-seekers from detention.

What you can do
  1. Make a pledge to show up for families by mounting sustained pressure on ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE’s parent agency and calling on them to free all families together from detention. Commit to write letters to ICE, make phone calls to ICE, and/or send emails to ICE EVERY WEEK through September and October! The first 100 activists to make the pledge will receive a sign to display in your window or yard. 
  2. Take action to release Pastor Steven Tendo from ICE detention, a 35-year-old asylum-seeker who fled from torture and other severe human rights violations in Uganda and requested asylum in the USA. Since December 2018 he has been held in immigration detention, and his health is deteriorating from inadequate medical care for diabetes amidst a COVID-19 outbreak in the detention facility. He was at imminent risk of being deported back to danger in Uganda until global Amnesty efforts stopped his deportation on September 7, 2020. Generate actions for his case here.
  3. Coordinate a Netflix Watch Party and screen an episode of the docuseries Immigration Nation. This series provides a deep look at the state of U.S. immigration and educates the public about the human rights violations occurring behind detention walls. Use this as a tool to open up discussions about ICE detention with your Amnesty group and your communities, and take collective action by inviting participants to email AND write/mail a letter to immigration authorities demanding he protect people in detention from COVID-19 by releasing them—including all families together—from ICE detention.


Communities of color that are already disproportionately impacted by gun violence are also being hit the hardest by COVID-19, and the organizations designed to stop gun violence before it happens are critically endangered at a time when they are needed most. Community based organizations like Cure Violence, Cease Fire, Good Kids Mad City and others depend on funding from local and state governments. The passage of Break the Cycle of Violence Act will ensure funding for these local community-based programs that are working to end gun violence.  

What you can do
  1. Ask your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative to sign on to support Break the Cycle of Violence Act. Get creative and record a video message with your cell phone to send to them or go public with your ask and post it on social media. Be sure to include your ask for them to co-sponsor Break the Cycle of Violence Act! Upload your video message to your social media platform and tag your U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, and @amnestyusa.My name is _____________________.  I’m taking this moment to speak with [insert Representative or Senator name] about Gun Violence in the U.S. Insert talking points:  
    • The U.S. has a duty to take positive action to address gun violence, especially where models exist that could reduce it. 
    • Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.  The US government must do more to ensure the human rights to life and safety.
    • Congress has an important role and should increase funding for community gun violence intervention and prevention programs focused on interrupting cycles of violence and direct services including mentorship.

    I am asking you to sponsor Break the Cycle of Violence Act (include either HB 4836 or Senate 2671 (depending on whether the video is being sent to your House Rep or Senate)

  2. Post a lawn sign to generate signatures for the social distance petition drive. Request a sign and then place the sign in a strategic location and engage people to take out their cell phones out and take a photo of the QR code, which will take them to the online petition.
  3. Tweet your Members of Congress and ask them to establish a national strategy to address the disproportionate impact of this public health crisis on communities of color by passing the Break the Cycle of Violence Act (S. 2671, H.R. 4836).
  4. Educate yourself and your group about gun violence as a human rights issue and explore the many intersections that gun violence plays in our society with the In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the Gun Violence Crisis in the U.S. online course. A course certificate will be provided upon completion.


Write For Rights is Amnesty International’s largest annual human rights campaign. People like you around the world write letters on behalf of people who need urgent help. People like Nassima, who has been locked up since 2018 for protesting against the ‘male guardianship’ system in Saudi Arabia. Through the power of collective action, your letters will help convince government officials to free Nassima and other people unjustly imprisoned or facing abuses.

What you can do
  1. Sign up to host a letter writing event at Generate as many letters as possible for this year’s cases!
  2. Bring Write for Rights into your classroom with the classroom guide — this can be done virtually or in person, depending on what works for your school.
  • Write for Rights main page: