Veteran, queer-minded activist, community organizer, student ... and now, an NP volunteer equipped to keep her neighbors safe.
When Aurora Adams was 17, she enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard, believing it to be the best way she could help people.
Although she was never deployed, she still saw plenty of conflict as a counselor and chaplain with the Guard.
“I saw my peers dealing with internal conflicts: intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and suicide,” Aurora shared.
She started questioning the efficacy of the militarized mindset early in her service. She grew up playing video games and reading comics, and imagined her experience would be like the scenes of heroism and service she had seen as a child. But shortly after enlisting, she began to recognize her participation in colonialism and imperialism, that maybe her idealism had been naïve.
Aurora also began transitioning while serving in the National Guard, even though there was a blanket ban on trans individuals serving in the U.S. military at the time.
“I was honorably discharged when I was 24, but the need to help others never left me.”
Aurora’s value of helping and hospitality has since translated to a deep respect for mutual aid and direct action for her community in the Twin Cities, MN. She had already been involved with various direct-action groups when the protests following George Floyd’s murder broke out.
Showing up for her community
“Violence had been affecting my neighbors, but, after the murder of George Floyd last May, it seemed like, finally, something was happening in my backyard. That now there is the possibility of doing something about these deep-rooted issues.”
In the days following George Floyd’s murder, the demonstrations were turning more and more heated. She heard from a friend that there were rumors of white supremacists and extremists in the Twin Cities. So, Aurora headed out to a demonstration with some medical supplies, her limited medical training from her time in the National Guard, and ready to work with community activists. “I thought maybe I could help someone.”
Aurora was feeling it getting louder and hotter, more and more intense. She saw some gruesome things that night, mostly as a result of mace, rubber bullets and teargas. But she also saw incredible demonstrations of love and care. It felt like grief and tragedy and anger coming together in service of the community. “I wish all those who have been unjustly murdered were here to see what they helped inspire.”
Aurora noticed the street medics were pretty organized, so she sprang into action assisting with moving supplies and getting people to safety, identifying ways to get their needs met and care for each other.
While she went out taking directions, she ended up giving directions; Aurora saw how important it was to build networks of people trained and communicating with one another. “I became an organizer because we needed to connect with each other throughout the cities. SoI started overseeing the communication and a medical site.”
From attending to the effects of violence to preventing violence
From her work as an organizer last summer, Aurora found out about NP. She had been working for months attending to the effects of violence, connecting the medical volunteer sites to each other throughout the Twin Cities. Now, she wanted to strengthen her skills to prevent violence.
On November 3, U.S. election day, Aurora joined the group of 250 community members that volunteered with Nonviolent Peaceforce to deescalate issues so people could vote without threat of violence. November 3, U.S. election day, Aurora joined the group of 250 community members that volunteered with Nonviolent Peaceforce to deescalate issues so people could vote without threat of violence.
“Seeing the community come together is so transformative ... it gives me energy and hope.”
And now, while in school to become a nurse, Aurora is also a leader in the group of 60+ volunteers that NP is activating. Volunteers will provide unarmed civilian protection in neighborhoods and at demonstrations during flashpoints of violence. Their first activation is during the demonstrations surrounding the Derek Chauvin trial, which started March 8.
With your support, the Community Safety Teams have been strengthening their skills on de-escalation and protection. In the coming weeks, Aurora will be putting her skills into action towards helping people and keeping her community safe.
“The work that Nonviolent Peaceforce is doing is not only needed and helpful, but volunteering with NP also gives me a place where I am able to create community, which is incredibly important.”
In a time of unending news about the pandemic, weather-related crises, and the country largely unable to meet the needs of civilians, Aurora sees hope in people coming together to meet each other’s needs—thoughtfully and mindfully. “Hope without action is not very effective. With NP,I have the ability to fuel my energy intoaction. And, as long as enough people participate, I feel confident that the arc will bend towards justice for the communities that have so long awaited it.”