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Groups make plans to protest at Republican & Democratic conventions
Published Feb 23, 2008 10:03 AM
By Workers World correspondents
Minneapolis, Minn., and Olympia, Wash.
Plans are already underway for protest demonstrations this summer when the two
major capitalist parties have their nominating conventions. Two recent
conferences in different cities showed the broad range of issues various groups
intend to raise when both the Republicans and Democrats meet.
Notable is the fact that unions and organizations of the poor met together with
anti-war and anti-imperialist groups, indicating the connections being drawn
between the growing economic woes of the working class and the immense outlay
of funds by the capitalist government for imperialist aggression abroad.
Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held on Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul,
Minn. On Feb. 9-10, in St. Paul’s twin city of Minneapolis, the Coalition
to March on the RNC and Stop the War met with more than 60 other organizations
to plan events protesting the Republican agenda.
The coalition consists of local anti-war and solidarity organizations, unions
and social justice groups. Three national anti-war coalitions were also
represented at the conference: Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC), the ANSWER
Coalition and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ).
Other organizations present included the International Action Center; Freedom
Road Socialist Organization; Latinos Against the War; Fight Imperialism-Stand
Together; Students for a Democratic Society; New Jersey Solidarity-Activists
for the Liberation of Palestine; the National Committee to Free Ricardo
Palmera; Teamsters Local 743 and AFSCME Local 3800.
A press conference for local and national media included speakers from the
Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, TONC, UFPJ, ANSWER and the Arab
American Action Network.
Phyllis Walker, Marie Braun and Jess Sundin opened the conference with an
inspiring welcome from the local coalition. Two panels laid out the many
reasons for marching on the RNC.
In the first panel Muath Asamarai, a local Iraqi American; Leslie Cagan of
UFPJ; Sara Flounders of TONC and the IAC; John Beacham for the ANSWER
Coalition; Carlos Montes of Latinos Against the War; and Angel Buechner from
the Welfare Rights Committee spoke on why their organizations and coalitions
are mobilizing for the march.
The second panel consisted of representatives from other endorsing
organizations, including Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743; Kosta
Harlan, a member of Students for a Democratic Society; Hatem Abudayyeh,
executive director of the Arab American Action Network; Tyneisha Bowens, a
leader of Fight Imperialism-Stand Together; George Martin of Wisconsin Network
for Peace and Justice; and Barry Reisch of Veterans for Peace.
These organizations emphasized the importance of opposing the imperialist
agendas of both the Republicans and the Democrats.
The diversity of the issues addressed by the Coalition to March on the RNC and
Stop the War was reflected in the diversity of the attending organizations and
activists. Immigrant rights, Palestine solidarity, Latin American solidarity,
welfare rights, labor and low-income struggles were some of the issues included
on the agenda and in the planning of the march and other events to counter the
This respect for diversity was also reflected in the local coalition’s
open position on various tactics and safe spaces for those not participating in
On the second day of the conference, the participants met in plenaries to
discuss the program for a major demonstration on Sept. 1 and coordination and
communication leading up to the event. Tours were held of the area around the
Xcel Center where the RNC will take place in September.
For more information, visit marchonrnc.org or protestrnc2008.org.
Conference on RNC and DNC in Olympia
On the same weekend as the Minneapolis conference, youth and students met in
Olympia, Wash., to discuss preparations to counter both the Republican and
Democratic national conventions. About 100 people attended, mostly students
from Seattle and surrounding areas, with others from Minneapolis and the states
of Colorado, Oregon and California. The National Lawyers Guild and a few
educators were there to listen, observe and offer advice when asked.
Protest organizers from Minneapolis and from Denver, where the DNC will be held
on Aug. 24-28, gave presentations on the preparations that had been made,
problems encountered and the significance of the respective conventions.
For the DNC, two activists who are part of the Recreate 68 Alliance spoke.
Glenn Spagnuolo of the All Nations Alliance and Larry Hales of the youth group
Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) presented to the audience in the late
evening for an hour and a half. Spagnuolo explained that R68 was formed in
January last year by local Denver activists from the [email protected], African-American,
Native and white communities, representing such different issues as racism,
imperialism, anti-war, anti-globalization, for immigrant rights and Indigenous
rights. They agreed to work together to create a week of political solidarity
in resistance and protest.
The idea of Recreate 68 is being used to move communities forward by looking
back at a time of great resistance to war and racism.
Spagnuolo made reference to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and its
Ten-Point Program, where the party provided security, free breakfasts for
children programs and education in many communities.
He also spoke of the government’s brutal attacks in response to the
party’s activism, the anti-war positions of Martin Luther King Jr. and
Malcolm X, the mass movements against oppression headed by organizations such
as the American Indian Movement, the Young Lords, the Gay Liberation Front and
many other groups.
Racism, imperialist war, poverty—all the things that come with
capitalism—are still with us, Spagnuolo explained, and though Cointelpro
is not around in name, the government has other forms of surveillance and of
targeting activists, such as the massive Homeland Security apparatus.
Larry Hales of FIST spoke about the numerous cases of police brutality in the
Denver area, such as the case of Loree McCormick-Rice and her then-12-year-old
daughter Cassidy McCormick, who were both beaten by an Aurora, Colo., cop. He
spoke of the occupation of the oppressed communities by police and the role of
police in capitalist society.
Hales asked the students to be mindful of the communities and the people whom
they are claiming to represent. The residents of communities of color are faced
with police terror all the time, not just during marches and rallies. Police
brutality is a daily reality for many working and oppressed people.
He told them that they must be sensitive to the needs of the people and be
aware of history that is being made today. For instance, Hales said, a white
woman and a Black man are running for president. Though they both represent the
interests of the imperialist U.S. ruling class and their agenda would be to
appease the ruling elite, there are many oppressed people who see the fact that
they are running and that one or the other may likely win the general election
as a milestone.
People will be out in the streets for many reasons, and activists have to keep
focused on the issues while at the same time being aware that some people are
looking at these candidates as a victory for women and Black people. It will
take time for them to see what the development really means, as the next
president goes about her or his business running the U.S. imperialist
A whole week of activities, rallies and marches is planned for the DNC by
Recreate 68. To find out about them, visit recreate68.org.
Tyneisha Bowens, who attended the Minneapolis conference, and Gloria
Verdieu and Larry Hales, who attended the Olympia conference, contributed to
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