Letter from Sean Yokota

Sean receiving his certificate for completing his Kingian Nonviolence Training.

Sean receiving his certificate for completing his Kingian Nonviolence Training.

My name is Sean Yokota. I am a third generation Japanese American, born and raised in San Francisco. I rebelled against the “model minority” stereotype in my mid-teens by running with an older tougher crowd. I soon became enamored with the criminal lifestyle and quickly adopted many of the habits and social norms that go with it.

I got arrested at the age of 19 and subsequently fought my case for the next two and a half years. Once I resolved my case, I left the Bay Area to get away from my old life and obtain a degree in business. But the allure of the streets pulled me back and I find myself incarcerated yet again.

I first heard of Kingian Nonviolence the day that East Point Peace Academy ran a two-day course in the dorm that I was housed in. Before the workshop began, I thought, “here comes some hippy people trying to preach some kumbaya, peace and love crap.”

It was much more entertaining and informative than I was expecting. I had always thought of Dr. King as a historical figure, someone who should obviously be lauded for all that he accomplished for civil rights, but not someone whose philosophy had any direct impact on my life. After the workshop, I came to realize that his philosophy of nonviolence still has relevance in today’s society.

One thing I have learned throughout the course of the training is the complexity there is to such a seemingly simple concept. On the surface, the concept of nonviolence seems pretty simple, but upon deeper examination, I have learned about the different types and levels of conflict, the principles of nonviolence, the steps of how to apply it and more. I’ve come to realize how difficult it is for nonviolence to become a way of life, and yet how necessary it is to create a more just world.

Through these trainings, I hope to gain a greater ability to resolve conflicts in my life and to incorporate these teachings into my daily life. I hope to inspire some of my fellow inmates to go through the training.

This philosophy can help many people in my community, to provide an alternative to all the lessons of hatred and violence that are unfortunately taught to many of us.

Violence – and therefore nonviolence – is a cause that touches everyone. We all encounter conflicts in our daily lives, and the ability to resolve them nonviolently is essential because we know that violence begets violence. Nonviolence is needed to break this cycle.

By supporting East Point, you have the ability to impact so many lives. Besides giving people a nonviolent alterative to resolve conflicts, you are empowering communities. Giving them a framework to combat social injustices like poverty or discrimination.

Too often in the news, you see violent protests that dissolve into riots that ultimately end up changing nothing. Kingian Nonviolence gives a blueprint for a nonviolent movement that is informed about the issues, who can articulate their demands and are willing to negotiate. The transformative potential is incalculable.


  1. Jacob Lam says

    Sean, I still remember you from middle school. Presidio Middle school. It was the year of 1991. I’ve seen you a few times after middle school and high school. Classmate 317. I..till this day, remember you.

    • Kazu Haga says

      Hi Charles – Unfortunately we are not allowed to bring books to incarcerated men. They are only able to receive books directly from a licensed distributor, such as amazon or a bookstore. If you can purchase a copy from amazon and send it directly to him, that is possible (it needs to be soft-cover). Thank you,


  2. Mervyn Wool says

    I, like many other can relate to Sean. I was fortunate enough to turn my life around for the better but still remind myself daily of the past to keep myself motivated and remind myself what I had to go through to be the person I am today with the support of friends and family.
    I wish you the best of luck Sean and if there us anything I can do to help, let me know. Thanks for sharing!

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