Protecting Water and Life: Frontline Stories from Ohioans fighting corporate and state power

This book features frontline stories from a movement fighting corporate and state power in Ohio. Edited by Tish O’Dell and Simon Davis-Cohen.

For over eight years, organizers with the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) have worked hard with CELDF to propose and pass county charters, city charter amendments and city ordinances recognizing protective local self-governance and the Rights of Nature. In Death by Democracy — we hear directly from them.

Ballot initiatives they advanced, like the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, made international headlines and expanded peoples’ political imaginations. But in the end, a power structure revealed itself that saw all branches of the government of Ohio and corporate interests go so far as to alter state law to repress the movements’ tactics and remove a total of 14 qualified initiatives from local ballots, despite all measures gathering sufficient signatures and satisfying all administrative requirements.

The stakes are high in Death by Democracy. Communities face down and organize to oppose oil/gas fracking, fracking waste injection wells, industrial agriculture, water privatization and corporate control of elections. Local community lawmaking is advanced through direct democracy to reorient the priorities and obligations of the law to protect human and ecological life.

This book is written by the local organizers who engaged in these fights. With CELDF’s help, they took on the State of Ohio, the American Petroleum Institute and other powerful corporate lobbies in Ohio.

Their organizing shifted local political dynamics, advanced rights of ecosystems and inspired campaigns and lawmaking in other states and countries, like Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and France.

In this book, Ohioans share the lessons they learned from being on the receiving end of coordinated repression. Eventually, filing a federal civil rights lawsuit, arguing the systemic obstruction and tactics by local boards of elections and the State of Ohio – at the behest of corporate lobbies – amounted to civil rights violations resulting in censoring of local ballots and direct democracy by the people. In reality it was “death” by the democratic institutions they once believed in.

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