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Miami Impeachment Protest
On Saturday April 28, 2007, 1,500 Miami Dade College students participated in a graduation ceremony featuring guest speaker President Bush. Despite the Miami Heralds predictions that Bush would receive more cheers than heckles, a group of people equal in size to the number of graduates greeted the president with a criminals welcome. On the same day that activists in cities across the country took to the streets calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, more than 1,000 people confronted Bush with a wall of opposition along the entryway of the Kendall, Florida campus.
In an April 27 article, Cheers likely for Bush at MDC speech, the Miami Herald quoted accounting and economics teacher Maria Mari saying, This is a commuter school. Students dont stick around to plan protests. Yet, the number of young protestors was equal if not greater than the number of aged activists. Luis Cuevas, Florida state coordinator of the Progressive Democrats of America, was impressed by the turnout. I think its a wonderful experience to see so many people, particularly very young people, present at this place, he said.
First-time protestor 25-year-old Miami resident Cassandra Wendels said the event was both positive and empowering. This is actually my first event, she said. Its nice to feel so much energy from other people so that it makes the whole point stronger. Its nice to know youre not sitting home and watching the shit on TV that youre actually there, youre in it. Im going to get off my couch a lot more and make a whole lot of other people get off of their couches a lot more and be here.
Responding to the Heralds contention that Bush was almost guaranteed a friendly welcome, Miami Beach resident Dave Patlack said he felt like protesters stood up to the papers challenge. This is hugely successful, he said. The Miami Herald on Friday threw down the gauntlet to South Florida activists and said, show it. And we did, today. This is the largest outpouring against Bush weve had in Miami Dade county. This is a blue county and we dont want Bush here. Hes a bad example for commencement. This should be a day of celebration for the students, their families, the staff, the teachers. But today we feel the pain that Bush brought to this country through his lies, through his integrity loss, through the terrors that he has brought throughout the world.
Despite the solid showing from a city often labeled politically apathetic, many news reports failed to portray the event accurately. In its online story, Protestors Greet President Bush With Jeers, CBS 4, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale inaccurately reported that only dozens of protestors voiced their disapproval of the Presidents actions in Iraq, during Bushs commencement speech (April 28, 2007). The short article went on, Not everyone at the protest had something bad to say about Mr. Bush. Even though they were in the minority, there were some people who had nothing but good things to say about the presidents performance.
Actually, at the height of the event, around 5:00 PM, less than a half-dozen Bush supporters waded through a sea of more than 1,000 anti-Bush protestors. While the South Florida Sun-Sentinel had no trouble reporting that the president spoke to 1,600 of the Colleges 8,000 graduates, the paper demeaned the protest twice, stating, hundreds of protestors had gathered outside of the college. One of the events many organizers, Simon Rose, press secretary for Democracy for America, Miami, believes inaccurate crowd estimates are unforgivable. Before you cite a number, if you say hundreds then you better make darn sure youve counted the number of people rather than arbitrarily throwing out a number. I know several people who counted well over a thousand.
Even more important than the medias low-balling of protest attendance, Rose believes the ratio of supporters to detractors was the real story that went unreported. What was really significant is that there were over 1,000 protestors against his policies as opposed to maybe half-a-dozen supporters, said Rose. To me, it is almost shameful that the media isnt reporting that, the tremendous ratio of protestors versus supporters. Frankly, I expected a lot more supporters of the president to show up. I felt very good about how few did show-up, its so telling.
Among those at the event were Miami Dade College graduates, punk rock musicians performing anti-war anthems, activists with bullhorns bellowing for impeachment, college and high school students, members of the Unitarian Universialists, a couple holding helium field balloons with Impeach slogans, and middle aged men and women across the ethnic spectrum.
Brad Shaw, an African-American from Miami, said he came to the protest to stop Bush and his crimes against us all.... He needs to respect us all, said Shaw, adding, Bring our troops home, they need to come home and see their kids, they need to be back home with us.
Graduate art student Jacqueline Gopie who attends Miamis Florida International University, set-up her paper-mache anti-Bush work on the side of the road. Describing the piece, Gopie said, I have a cartoon that Jim Moran did where one hand hes bleeding Iraq, hes like Oh, I cant. This is the first time hes ever enacted the veto and this is what he uses it for. So I just put all of these articles of people, the names of the dead, people who have been killed, various stories about the Iraq war and just put them all over his body to show how hypocritical it is.
Its in reaction to the statement Bush made when he signed a veto of a bill that was going to increase funding for stem-cell research, she said. He said he didnt want to allow stem-cell research because it would mean the murdering of innocent lives.
A Gainesville resident, Cuevas, bolstered the events impeachment theme by dressing as an imprisoned Dick Cheney. This is part of the backbone campaignChaingang.org we carry across the country to places where there are activities, he said. And what we want to do is attract attention to the problems and to the individuals that have caused it. And at the same time to bring attention to the activities of the activists who are against the war.
Rose believes the event was an indication that Miami is a city waking from its slumber. This was by far the largest demonstration in the county since the FTAA protest, he said. Miami is always being accused of being apathetic and so many people turned out for this thing. Thats a story in itself, that Miami is getting the message.
Jeff Nall is an activist and freelance writer and photographer.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.