The Hampton Institute
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The Hampton Institute: a working-class think tank
|Motto||"Providing commentary, theory, analysis and research on a wide range of social, political and economic issues from a distinct, working-class perspective with a focus on the continuation of transforming these ideas into practical steps towards revolutionary social change."|
|Type||Research organization, media outlet, think tank.|
The Hampton Institute (HI) is an American "working-class think tank" that was founded in 2013. In contrast to traditional think tanks, the HI is a virtual organization that does not have a physical location and does not seek to provide specific policy analysis for political parties. For organizational purposes, its official location is in Albany, New York with a main address located in Clifton Park, New York, a suburb of Albany. Current chairpersons are located throughout the United States (including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, and California), as well as Canada (Montreal) and Australia.
The HI was founded by Colin Jenkins, a libertarian socialist, with the purpose of giving a platform to everyday, working-class people to theorize, comment, analyze and discuss matters that exist outside the confines of their daily lives, yet greatly impact them on a daily basis. The organization is named after former Black Panther Fred Hampton and also cites inspiration from Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. In order to remain consistent with their working-class billing, the HI claims to seek organic intellectuals as opposed to traditional intellectuals and scholars. In an interview from 2013, Jenkins even went as far as saying that "credentials are products of privilege" and "essentially mean nothing". Despite this, some members of the Hampton Team, as well as some contributors, possess PhDs.
- 1 Organizational makeup and approach
- 2 Departments with corresponding chairpersons
- 3 Political orientation
- 4 Hampton Institute Press
- 5 A Different Lens podcast
- 6 Current projects
- 7 Work and relevance
- 8 2015 Report to the United Nations
- 9 Funding
- 10 Activism and outreach
- 11 2017 Hampton Reader
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Organizational makeup and approach
The organization consists of sixteen departments, each with corresponding chairpersons, as well as a sub-department listed under "Current Projects" which includes a Director of Projects, Actions, and Activism. The sixteen departments are: Criminal Justice, Ecology & Sustainability, Education, Geopolitics, Indigenous Rights, Labor Issues, LGBTQ Rights, Race & Ethnicity, Resistance Art, Social Economics, Social Movement Studies, Society & Culture, Spirituality & Religion, Urban Issues, and Women's Issues.
Some of the current team, including Jason Williams, Andrew Gavin Marshall, Derek Ide, Cherise Charleswell, Sean Posey, Devon Douglas-Bowers, Jeriah Bowser, and Eyad Alkurabi are founding members. The HI operates a publishing wing (Hampton Institute Press), a blog (The HI blog), and a bi-monthly podcast (A Different Lens) which is run by the Politics & Government department chairperson, Devon Douglas-Bowers. The organization also maintains a presence on social media, including Facebook (The Hampton Institute) and Twitter (@HamptonThink).
Its operational structure is run as a collective, cooperative, and Non-hierarchical Organization. From its founding in 2013 until August 2018, the HI has operated on an all-volunteer basis. Jenkins commented on the organization's approach:
In terms of approach, the HI attempts to begin to fill the historical void of which Gramsci once termed, "Organic Intellectualism" – the collective politicization and critical analysis of and from the working class itself. The HI is indifferent to traditional structures dominated by the pedigreed and privileged intelligentsia. Our members are passionate and probing members of the common... [we believe] intelligent analysis exists throughout the socioeconomic spectrum, and the only thing that separates those who own a public voice and those who do not is varying degrees of privilege. "Credentials" essentially mean nothing because they are typically nothing more than products of privilege; and for that reason alone, perspectives and analyses coming from those credentials/privilege are often presented in a way that opposes the public-at-large (the working class). The HI seeks to challenge this embedded, highly-controlled and top-down mode of inquiry by offering an alternative, organic and bottom-up viewpoint."
Departments with corresponding chairpersons
- Criminal Justice: Dr. Jason Michael Williams
- Ecology & Sustainability: Jeriah Bowser
- Education: Derek R. Ford
- Geopolitics: Andrew Gavin Marshall
- Indigenous Rights: Debra Hocking
- Labor Issues: Dr. Nicholas Partyka
- LGBTQ Rights: Vacant
- Politics & Government: Devon Douglas-Bowers
- Race & Ethnicity: Sonasha Braxton
- Resistance Art: Nicole Rodrigues
- Social Economics: Colin Jenkins
- Social Movement Studies: Derek Ide
- Society & Culture: Frank Castro
- Spirituality & Religion: Hillary Brownsmith and Joshua Hatala
- Urban Issues: Sean Posey
- Women's Issues: Cherise Charleswell
- Past chairpersons: Mike Perry (Race & Ethnicity), Lige English (Labor Issues), Christine Mazzarino (Education), Revan Filiaexdeus (Spirituality & Religion), Julisa Garcia (Indigenous Rights), Jose Tirado (Spirituality & Religion), Syard Evans (Society & Culture), Jonathan Mathias Lassiter (LGBTQ Rights), and Boyce Brown (Education).
The organization does not claim an official political or ideological orientation other than "working class." Some of the members - including Marshall, Jenkins and Bowser - have openly identified with anarchist philosophy. Jenkins has also cited Marxism as a strong influence, and is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union that prescribes to "revolutionary industrial unionism," with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements. Derek Ide identifies as a socialist, stating, "I am a socialist, and I'm deeply rooted in that intellectual and political tradition broadly speaking. However, I do not identify with any of the particular subsets of Marxist schools of thought, but my view of history and the world is largely materialist." Sean Posey describes himself as anti-war and "situated on the Left, politically." Regarding his political orientation, Bowser wrote, "I am not a huge fan of labels, as they tend to isolate and exclude rather than invite and include, but the ideological worlds I tend to find myself in most often include Deep Ecology, Anarcho-primitivism, Anarcho-communism, Taoism, Pantheism, Anti-psychiatry, and Christian Agnosticism." Derek R. Ford states that he is a Communist, which, he says, "means being... a dialectical-materialist and a member of the Party.
Former chair, Jonathan Mathias Lassiter, explained, "My work is inherently political as it focuses on principles and opinions. However, I am not aligned with any political party nor am I am against any particular political party. I am not interested in political parties or politics in the common sense of the word but am more concerned with pursuing love and justice for the whole of humanity with a specific focus on marginalized populations." Former chair, Syard Evans, has said, "Despite my disgust for politics and traditional political systems, working in the non-profit human services realm for the past 15 years requires that I am an active advocate for individuals I support in every way possible, including politically." Regarding the political system in the United States, Jenkins said, "I view both parties (Democrats and Republicans) as "two wings of the same (corporate) business party." Both represent moneyed interests, and not the interests of the large majority."
Hampton Institute Press
The organization operates a small publishing wing for the purpose of producing books in both print and digital form. Their first title, Egypt's Past and Potential: Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Revolution, was written by Social Movement Studies chairperson Derek Ide. The book was published in January of 2014. The synopsis of the book reads:
Egypt's Past and Potential grapples with the complex political, economic, and social dynamics that led to Egypt's historic revolution of 2011. Utilizing a critical framework, author Derek Ide analyzes the country's development ranging from Nasser-era nationalism to the decades of neoliberal "reform" in order to situate the revolutionary uprising of 2011 in its appropriate historical context. The book also draws out the unique and often overlooked working class tradition in Egypt which both predated the January 25th revolution and, contrary to the common sense of many Western commentators, played a significant role in it. This timely book delivers a cogent analysis as events in Egypt continue to unfold, and provides a historical backdrop to help readers understand the economic pressures, dialectical conflicts, and social movements that intersect to shape Egyptian history.
In December 2014, Hampton's Press published their first annual reader duly titled, The 2015 Hampton Reader. It is a collection of essays from the organization's first year in existence, and includes at least four exclusive essays:
- Housing Works: A Trans Analysis, by Jonathan Mathias Lassiter
- From Class to Privilege: A Post-Industrial Marxist Analysis, by Colin Jenkins
- Planning Without Precedent: The Fate of Neighborhoods in America's Fastest Shrinking City (Youngstown, Ohio), by Sean Posey
- Millennium Development Goals: A Focus on Women, by Cherise Charleswell
A third title, Elements of Resistance: Violence, Nonviolence, and the State, by Jeriah Bowser, was published in February 2015. The synopsis of the book reads:
Our world is full of ideas about the way that humans should live. Some of these ideas create a more beautiful and equal world that we all want to live in, while other ideas create violence, hatred, inequality, and suffering. Some of us care an awful lot about beautiful ideas; we care enough to fight for them and spend our lives working towards them, and we care enough to resist. Resistance takes many forms, however, and there are many ideas about the most effective and correct ways to resist. Elements of Resistance attempts to transcend the false binary of nonviolent and violent resistance, and looks at the heart and soul of what it means to resist, why we resist, and what some different methods of effective resistance might look like. Drawing from recent work by social theorists and activists such as Derrick Jensen, Ward Churchill, Shane Claiborne, Johann Galtung, and Peter Gelderloos, as well as the work of Frantz Fanon, Henry Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mohandas Gandhi, this book is an exploration into the history, theory, and necessity of resistance to oppression.
Elements of Resistance received positive reviews from author and radical environmentalist, Derrick Jensen, as well as from anarchist and primitivist philosopher, John Zerzan. Jensen called the book "an important contribution to a necessary conversation," while Zerzan noted that it goes beyond "just a survey of thinking on the perennial violence/non-violence debate" to form "a very strong contribution."
In December 2015, Hampton's Press published their second annual reader, The 2016 Hampton Reader. It is a collection of sixty-one essays from the organization's second year in existence, and includes at least four exclusive essays:
- Falsehoods and Shattered Dreams: The Dark Side of For-Profit Colleges, by Devon Douglas-Bowers
- Communist Pedagogy and the Contradictions of Capital, by Curry Malott
- American Gracchi, by Dr. Nicholas Partyka
- Is There Room for Decolonial, Transnational, and Radical Feminist Discourse in Pop Culture Feminism?, by Cherise Charleswell
A Different Lens podcast
The HI operates a podcast called "A Different Lens" for the purpose of conducting and broadcasting audio interviews with members and notable others. The podcast was initiated and is run by Politics & Government chairperson, Devon Douglas-Bowers, who also conducts the interviews. The most notable guests to date have been former Black Panther and black anarchist Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin; political cartoonist, editorialist and activist Stephanie McMillan; geopolitical analyst Prof. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya; independent journalist Rania Khalek; noted co-founder of Reaganomics, Paul Craig Roberts; founder of Mint Press News, Mnar A. Muhawesh; author and historian Michael Parenti; Israeli journalist Gideon Levy; Philip Giraldi; Socialist Party USA 2016 Presidential Candidate Mimi Soltysik, and scientist Guy McPherson.
- Geopolitics chairperson Andrew Gavin Marshall operates an initiative known as The People's Book Project,' which is described as:
...an independent initiative to crowd-source funding for a research and writing project, aiming to produce a series of books which take a radical look at the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power and resistance. The books aim to study power and people: what is the nature of our society, how did we get here, who brought us here, why, where are we going, when will we get there, and what can we do to change it?
- Applying Poulantzas is a research project by Colin Jenkins that:
...analyzes the work of Greek Marxist political sociologist, Nicos Poulantzas, and applies it to the unique political and economic structures found under neoliberalism and post-industrial capitalism.
- A Crossroads for Socialism: Cuba in Transition is a research project by Nicholas Partyka that:
...presents a multi-part analysis of Cuba, including dispatches and observations from his 2014 visit to the country. Partyka aims to present the most accurate insight into the reality of Cuba today, as it embarks on an unprecedented transition. With a heavy reliance on macroeconomic, geopolitical, and foreign policy analysis, this study seeks to pinpoint the nuanced economic, political, and social changes that are occurring on the island nation, and how these changes are impacting everyday Cubans.
- Ecofeminism is a research project by Cherise Charleswell that:
...analyzes the various health consequences of the global food production operations, distribution systems, preparation, and consumption, that affect women.
- Bridging the Gap: Reaching out to our Incarcerated Allies is a direct action initiative by Jeriah Bowser that seeks to:
...connect individuals currently incarcerated in America's 'Prison Industrial Complex' with their concerned brothers and sisters who are not currently incarcerated, with the intention of creating class-consciousness through relationships, education, and empowerment.
Work and relevance
Hampton's analyses and commentaries have been picked up and republished by numerous media outlets, most notably Monthly Review, Z Magazine, Truthout, Alternet, Common Dreams NewsCenter, Black Agenda Report, Dissident Voice, Foreign Policy Journal, and Popular Resistance. Andrew Gavin Marshall has been featured in ROAR Magazine and interviewed by Russia Today for his geopolitical analysis. Marshall is also a regular contributor to Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs Post. Marshall and Jenkins have both contributed essays to the Transnational Institute's annual State of Power report. Education chairperson Derek R. Ford has been featured numerous times on PressTV for his geopolitical analysis. Syard Evans (Society & Culture) participated in a TED talk event in April 2014. In January 2016, Jason Michael Williams and Colin Jenkins joined other scholars and activists in a special series on "The Possible Futures of the US Under Trump," published by Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order.
The HI has featured interviews with Angela Davis, Cornel West, David Graeber, Chris Hedges, and Staughton Lynd; and work from Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Peter McLaren, Deepa Kumar, Ursula Le Guin, rapper and activist Immortal Technique, the co-founder of participatory economics, Michael Albert, and MMA fighter Jeff Monson.
2015 Report to the United Nations
In April 2015, the Hampton Institute was one of a number of organizations invited to submit a report to the United Nations General Assembly regarding Resolution A/RES/69/160 on "Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." The HI's report, Rising Nazism and Racial Intolerance in the United States: A Contemporary Analysis, focused on a variety of areas including (1) a brief history of Nazism in the US, (2) Neoliberal economics, rising inequality and austerity as a driver, (3) Nazism and white supremacy in the US military, (4) Nazism and white supremacy online, (5) Nazism and white supremacy on college campuses, (6) Racist policing and mass incarceration, (7) Nazism protected by the state, (8) Rising fascism in American politics, (9) a case study on the state of California, and (10) a comparative analysis regarding Australia.
The HI relies solely on donations from readers and supporters. The organization has not released a financial report to date. In August 2018, the organization announced a detailed, five-year plan along with launching a Patreon account as a means to fund this plan. The plan includes: (1) An improved website with more user-friendly layout and improved searchability; (2) HI believes in compensation for one's work - writers, editors, etc. are no exception. All of our members are volunteers, and all of our contributors are currently unpaid. We want to change that; (3) Revitalizing HI's publishing house (HI Press). If working-class consciousness is going to be raised to where it needs to be in our lifetime, our political perspectives will need to be as widely available as possible, both online and, as affordably as possible, in print; (4) Further develop and improve HI's excellent podcast (“A Different Lens”) hosted by Devon Bowers. Devon does great work already, and we’re excited to see what he can do with some improved recording equipment and editing software; (5)Expand engagement with working-class movements and contribute to consciousness raising beyond the website, podcast, and publishing. HI wants to become a more active participant in the growth of a working-class public sphere. While HI is somewhat limited as a non-profit, we hope to push up against the legal boundaries (without crossing them, of course. We would never deign to do such a thing.), to participate in and host, among other things: public talks, educational seminars, teach-ins, and book talks. HI contributors will continue to show up in the streets, as they have always done—and we want to see you in the streets, too; (6) More of everything you already love and value from HI. More and better content of the kind that you’ve always come to HI for. Our hope is to increase the frequency and quality of new content (from monthly to at least bi-weekly and eventually weekly, if not daily); (7) Lastly, we want to make it abundantly clear that everything that has been freely available to the public through HI will remain free. We have no plans to put ads on the website, and we have no plans to charge our readers or listeners for anything we produce. To continue to do this—and to do it better—we need your help. As of September 19th, 2018, the organization has 41 patrons pledging a total of $279 per month.
Activism and outreach
Many of Hampton's members are involved in activism, direct action, and community outreach. Sean Posey has worked in community development at the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, where he assists with vacancy issues and urban agriculture in the inner city of Youngstown, Ohio. Derek Ide is the co-founder of and community adviser to the University of Toledo's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus. Jonathan Mathias Lassiter has served as a therapist at the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training, where he provided clinical services for a National Institute on Drug Abuse funded clinical intervention trial. Jeriah Bowser has been involved in prison outreach programs. Derek Ford is an anti-war and anti-racist organizer with A.N.S.W.E.R. Boyce Brown has been active in Hawaii's indigenous rights movement for many years. Eyad Alkurabi is a community organizer for GetEQUAL. Debra Hocking received an International Year of Peace award, and the Tasmanian Human Rights Award for humanitarian work in her homeland of Tasmania.
In June 2014, the HI sponsored a two-part book talk on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The presenters were Nicholas Partyka and Colin Donnaruma, and the two events took place at the Social Justice Center in Albany, New York.
In August 2014, the HI sponsored a "Freedom for Gaza" protest and march. The event took place in Albany, New York and was part of a nationwide "Day of Rage" coordinated in hundreds of cities in response to Israel's bombing of the Gaza strip.
In November 2014, Criminal Justice department chair, Dr. Jason Michael Williams, traveled to Ferguson, Missouri as part of an effort to assess the 2014 Ferguson unrest due to the Michael Brown shooting. Williams was part of a collection of criminologists and professors seeking to monitor the nature of the police response, which was deemed by many organizations (including Amnesty International) to be "heavy-handed" and "excessive".
In December 2014, the HI became an official sponsor of the James Connolly Forum in Troy, New York. The forum is a monthly event that attracts speakers, scholars, and activists from a wide range of disciplines. Guest speakers to date have included Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone, author and professor Jodi Dean, peace activist Dahlia Wasfi, author Vijay Prashad, teacher and activist Brian Jones, and founder and editor of Jacobin Magazine, Bhaskar Sunkara.
In June 2016, the HI co-sponsored a panel discussion on "Electoral Politics and the Left". The panel included Green Party US Presidential candidate, Jill Stein, the International Socialist Organization's Ashley Smith, and Bhaskar Sunkara.
In September 2016, the HI and its founder, Colin Jenkins, publicly endorsed the September 9th nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage and protest throughout the United States. The coordinated work stoppage was designed as a direct action protest by prisoners who are essentially used as slave labor throughout the country. The action was organized by the Industrial Workers of the World and its Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.
In April 2017, the HI sponsored a weekend conference on the State University of New York at Albany campus. The conference, titled "When I See Them, I See Us," was focused around "intersectional, anti-capitalist discussion and action," and touched on various issues such as Black liberation and Black Lives Matter, the struggle in Palestine, the Indigenous struggle and water justice, migrant and immigrant rights, battling Islamophobia, and the prison industrial complex. HI's Labor Issues chair Nicholas Partyka gave a presentation on "Mass Incarceration and Monopoly Capital." The HI directly sponsored another presentation, given by Miguel Roel, on "Imperialism and Immigration."
The HI publicly endorsed the Workers March on Washington, D.C. on April 30, 2017. The march was organized as a way to create working-class solidarity with "people across the globe who are realizing that we have more in common with each other than we do with the 0.1% of humans who own the top 50% of all 'wealth.' The same humans who make short sighted destructive decisions for the rest of us in order to increase their own profit."
In May 2017, the HI was one of six sponsoring organizations of FemJam 2017: Jamming Feminism and Organizing Across LA. HI's Women's Issues chair Cherise Charleswell was a participant at the conference.
The Institute officially endorsed a solidarity peace delegation to South Korea to demand an end militarism in Korea and Asia and to support dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in July 2017.
In August 2017, Education Chair Derek Ford organized and led a peace delegation to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea through Korea Peace Tours. The delegation met with workers, cooperative farmers, students, professors, soldiers, generals, and government officials throughout the time there. They were the last U.S. delegation to visit the country before the U.S. travel ban was implemented.
The HI is one of many organizations to have officially endorsed the People's Congress of Resistance, which is scheduled for September 16–17 in Washington, D.C. The HI joins a long list of "endorsements that are coming in from all over the country, and from grassroots resisters from all walks of life — from Black Lives Matter to immigrant rights, climate justice, trade union, women's rights, and LGBTQ rights groups." The Congress plans "confront the Congress of the millionaires (US Congress), galvanize the energy of the many groups resisting Trump, and demonstrate what democracy looks like."
The HI endorsed the Nationwide Prison Strike that occurred between August 21 and September 9, 2018. The strike was organized by prisoners throughout the United States with assistance from the Industrial Workers of the World's Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. Striking prisoners released a list of ten demands: (1) Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women; (2) An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor; (3) The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights; (4) The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole; (5) An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states; (6) An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans; (7) No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender; (8) State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services; (9) Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories; (10) The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.  
2017 Hampton Reader
In early 2019, Information Age Publishing released the 2017 Hampton Reader: selected essays from a working-class think tank. The book is the third in Hampton's annual reader series, and the first to be published by an outside press. 
- "About the Hampton Institute".
- "The Hampton Team".
- "Q & A with Colin Jenkins".
- Db, Devon (20 April 2013). "What About Peace?: The Hampton Institute".
- "Our Contributors".
- "Get to Know: Derek Ide I The Hampton Institute".
- "Get to Know: Sean Posey I The Hampton Institute".
- "Get to Know: Jeriah Bowser I The Hampton Institute".
- "Get to Know: Derek R. Ford I The Hampton Institute".
- "Get to Know: Jonathan Mathias Lassiter I The Hampton Institute".
- "Get to Know: Syard Evans I The Hampton Institute".
- Ide, Derek A. (24 January 2014). "Egypt's Past and Potential: Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Revolution". Hampton Institute Press – via Amazon.
- Ide, Derek (19 January 2014). "Egypt's Past and Potential: Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Revolution". Hampton Institute Press – via Amazon.
- Jenkins, Colin (5 December 2014). "The 2015 Hampton Reader: Selected Essays and Analyses from the Hampton Institute: A Working-Class Think Tank". Hampton Institute Press – via Amazon.
- Bowser, Jeriah (13 February 2015). "Elements of Resistance: Violence, Nonviolence, and the State". Hampton Institute Press – via Amazon.
- Jenkins, Colin (6 December 2015). "The 2016 Hampton Reader: Selected Essays and Analyses from the Hampton Institute: A Working-Class Think Tank". Hampton Institute Press – via Amazon.
- Network, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Voltaire. "Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya [Voltaire Network]".
- "A Different Lens: The Hampton Institute's Podcast".
- "Research Projects and Direct Action I The Hampton Institute".
- Williams, Dr. Jason Michael. "Doing Ferguson and Baltimore at the Intersection of Racial Oppression and Hopelessness". The Hampton Institute. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
- "Solidarity Peace Delegation to South Korea – No to U.S. Missile Defense in Korea". stopthaad.org. Retrieved 2017-07-23.