Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC March

Yesterday I went with some of my friends to the March on the RNC against the war. According to some estimates, there were anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 protestors. I think there were definitely more than 2,000 people there. I would guess there were probably 8,000 to 10,000 people all told during the march itself. The Star Tribune article I found does a good job of laying out what happened.

Anyways. So yesterday morning I walk down to the Capitol with a friend, run into two people from one of the other LVC houses, and meet up with a few other friends. We decide to march with/near the Youth Against War and Racism group and just generally hang around until the march starts. The crowd gathered on the lawn by the state capitol was peaceful, and fairly diverse. There were Somali protestors, Ethiopian protestors and Oromo protestors. There was a contingent from the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign They're also marching today, though it's while I'm at work. In addition there was an immigrant rights coalition, veterans for peace, codepink, a revived SDS group (Stop the War! Yes we can! SDS is back again!), a smattering of anarchists, and a handful of Ron Paul supporters.

A series of people took the microphone on stage, and honestly, most of them were not very inspiring. Around 12:45 we start lining up and around 1:15 we started marching to the Excel Center. I really enjoyed the march. It was fantastic that there were families, grandparents, veterans, teenagers, college students and all sorts of people marching. There were some excellent chants. I particularly enjoyed "war is not pro-life" and "ya, you betcha, war makers we're gonna getcha!" So we got as close to the Excel Center as they would let us, and then we were corraled and turned around through a big metal caged in corridor that directed us back towards the capitol. I was amazed at the amount of police force present around the perimeter of the march. There were squads of officers in riot control gear, many cops on bikes, a horseback division, and police on foot. I didn't see or hear of any police with dogs though so that's good.

The portion of the march I attended was peaceful. About half way through my back freaked out and as soon as we could cut through a side street, my friend and I headed back to my house. I have never had that much back pain before, it was awful. Apparently we just missed the violent part of the protest. Windows were smashed, bricks thrown, delegates spit upon, and clashes with the police ensued.

Honestly, I think what saddens me is that the violent protests often negate the positive effect that a peaceful march can have. Overall, I also think that one issue the Left has with organizing is that we often protest as many different contingents for many different things. I do have to hand it to the Right, even though they don't agree on many things, they find a few issues they do agree on and toe the party line. The Left on the other hand, tends to splinter off into our individual issues. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, we just don't do a good job of supporting each other. Even at the march, there were some chants that I didn't think were effective. For example, one had a section "we say no to the RNC." The Republicans have the right to assemble, to officially pick their candidate and all of that jazz. We might not like it that they're in our city, and at the march many of us disagree with their politics. Nonetheless, that sort of sentiment only makes all of the protestors look a little ridiculous. Also, if you're an anarchist or want to overthrow the government or what not, I can understand how that chant would be more meaningful to you. However, the march was to protest about the war that we're involved in, it was a coalition effort. We should try to stand for something together that we all agree on.

Anyways. I should get back to work since the Many Stories, One Voice conference was cancelled and we are now hosting the Lutherans Concerned/North America leadership retreat and board of directors meeting here.

1 comment:

Mugsie said...

I think "Many Stories, One Voice" ~should~ describe the protest. 100% in agreement with you on the "the left is too splintered" thing and the violent protest thing, and yes, that is part of the reason why the right can so often come out on top. I'm not even necessarily saying there's NEVER a need for violent protest or that it can't ever do any good, but when if ever they do happen, I don't think they should stem off of an intended non-violent or just general protest.

Damn good thing you had a back ache and got out before it got violent. Sorry about the back pain, but still.