Volume 21, Number 11
Battle of St Paul
“FREE GAZA MOVEMENT”
Breaking Gaza's Seige
The Infamous Three G's
Outrageous Gift Offer
Goodbye to Bush Offer
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Quo Vadis Culture Wars?
US Nuke Threat
Bush Seeks Legacy
Globalization v. Democracy
Jeffrey M. Smith
Eleanor J. Bader
Abortion & Life
Eleanor J. Bader
The American War in Pakistan
Bailout & Election
Bush Economic Legacy
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The Battle of St. Paul
"If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will." - President Bush addressing the RNC via satellite feed, September 1, 2008
"I Am The Angry Left" - T-Shirt seen at RNC demonstration
To casual bservers, the most enduring memory of the 2008 Republican National Convention is probably the chorus of Republicans who interrupted McCain’s acceptance speech chanting “Drill, Baby, Drill” while pumping their fists up and down, like a sea of oil rigs on the Alaskan tundra. For 19-year-old Elliot Hughes, one of 800 protesters arrested during 4 days of street protests outside the convention hall, the memories are somewhat different. Speaking at a press conference immediately following his release from jail, he told reporters, “Six or seven officers came into my cell and one officer punched me in the face…. And the officer slammed my head onto the ground. I was bleeding everywhere. They put a bag over my head that had a gag on it. And they used pain compliance tactics on me for about an hour and a half.” When asked about the incident, Ramsey County Sherriff Bob Fletcher neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but noted Hughes was “extremely disruptive in jail,” and “it took some force to control him.”
Elliot’s experience was but one of the more dramatic examples of an exceedingly brutal police reaction to militant protests. While in recent years most police departments have become increasingly reliant on de-escalation tactics and so-called “soft” repression, the RNC seemed to signal the reversal of this trend. Police unleashed their full arsenal of “less-lethal” weaponry, deploying tear gas cartridges, pepper spray canisters, smoke bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber bullets with little restraint, not to mention the liberal use of nightsticks. In one of the most widely reported incidents, police used snow plows and dump trucks to trap a group of 300 protesters on a bridge and ordered them to lie on the pavement with their hands over their heads. Most disturbing, police seemed to deliberately target the alternative media, shutting down the offices of the Twin Cities Independent Media Center and raiding I-Witness video, a NYC-based video journalist collective with a record of documenting police brutality at mass demonstrations. “Democracy Now!” radio broadcaster Amy Goodman was also arrested in the course of the demonstrations, along with two producers.
All major party conventions are now deemed National Special Security Events, which means they are allocated special funds and overseen by the Joint Terrorism Task Force—a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security components (Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Secret Service), and state and local law enforcement. In preparation for the festivities, the city temporarily deputized 3,000 officers from across the state to supplement its 600 regular officers. Meanwhile, 1,200 members of the Minnesota National Guard—many fresh from a tour of Iraq—waited in the wings. To fund these expenditures, St. Paul asked for and received $50 million from Congress. On top of that, the Republican National Committee had bought a $10 million insurance policy from the St. Paul police, pledging to spend its own money to stop any civil rights lawsuits. This insurance policy seemingly gave the police freedom from the fear of lawsuits.
The ironically named RNC Welcoming Committee was formed as “an information and logistical framework for radical resistance to the RNC.” The Welcoming Committee (WC) did not actually organize the demonstration, but instead provided a support structure for protesters coming to the Twin Cities. But because the WC was the public face of the demonstrations, police quickly labeled it an “organized criminal enterprise” with plans “to utilize criminal activities to disrupt and stop the RNC.” Even before the festivities began, local police were conducting preemptive strikes against known organizers.
In mid-August the WC opened a “convergence center”—a space for protesters to gather, eat, share resources, and build networks of solidarity. On Friday, August 29, as folks were finishing dinner and sitting down to a movie, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed in, guns drawn, ordering everyone to the ground. This evening raid resulted in seized property (mostly literature). After being cuffed, searched, and ID’d, the more than 60 individuals inside were released. The next morning, the Sheriff’s department executed search warrants on three houses, seizing personal and common household items and arresting five suspected leaders.
An affidavit released several days later revealed that police operatives had successfully infiltrated the WC one year before the convention, gathering information that led to the preemptive raids and arrests. Many of the allegations in the affidavit are patently false and strain the imagination, such as the claim that anarchists planned to kidnap delegates and blow up tunnels leading to the convention center.
A spokesperson for the National Lawyers Guild, which defended some of the protesters, told the press, “This is a political prosecution in its purest form, because no one is actually accused of physically doing anything that would be violent.... They’re being prosecuted specifically for their political activities and what they advocated.”
September 1 protest at the St. Paul Caitol building—photo by Andy Singer
Although some of the more prominent organizers had been taken out, the WC’s decentralized structure and careful planning made it invulnerable to complete decapitation. The WC had divided Saint Paul into seven sectors, so organizing bodies throughout the country could coordinate their actions and blockade as many access points as possible. Operating in small, autonomous affinity groups, protesters with the stated goal of disrupting the convention blockaded highway on-ramps and busy intersections and destroyed corporate property. Others improvised barricades out of street signs, road closures, and newspaper bins.
At one intersection, protesters dragged a dumpster into the street and overturned it, filling the street with trash and debris. Elsewhere, a car was driven into the center of a busy intersection, diagonally blocking traffic under a banner, No War But The Class War. Eat The Rich. Feed The Poor. A video circulated on YouTube showed a protester jumping an officer from behind as he attempts to make an arrest. (The officer subsequently retreated empty-handed.)
On the afternoon of September 4, thousands of Twin Cities youth walked out of their high schools and colleges in a citywide student strike against the Republican Convention, organized by Youth Against War and Racism. Despite threats and public recriminations from the mayor and superintendent, many high schools across the metropolitan region were reportedly shuttered.
The award for Most Creative Protest Tactic went to “Bash Back,” a Chicago-based collective of trans-folk, queer youth, and anarcha-feminists clad in pink and blue, many brandishing magic wands and some with fairy wings. When confronted by the members of the incendiary anti-homosexual Westboro Baptist Church, the bloc chanted “We’re here, we’re queer. We’re anarchists, we’ll fuck you up!” while pantomiming gay sex acts, much to the consternation of the churchgoers.
I attended the convention as a member of a political marching band known as the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. We usually stand on sidewalks and pump out tunes to diffuse tense situations while our friends in the street do the dirty work. Our repertoire ranges from a cover of 1980s band Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to a reimagining of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” (with anti-war lyrics).
At this writing, eight activists face charges of Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, a second degree felony that carries the possibility of over seven years in prison under a “terrorism enhancement” clause normally reserved for prisoners of war. The last use of such charges in Minnesota was in 1918 when organizers with the Industrial Workers of the World on the Iron Range were charged with “criminal syndicalism” for organizing unions. In an open letter to allies, the defendants wrote, “These [conspiracy charges] create a convenient method for incapacitating activists, with the potential for diverting limited resources towards protracted legal battles and terrorizing entire communities into silence and inaction.”
In an email message circulated widely just after the convention, a collective associated with the demonstrations wrote, “The upsurge associated with the anti-globalization era was not a flash in the pan. If anything, we are stronger today than ten years ago.”
Abe Walker is an activist and member of Rude Mechanical Orchestra. To support the RNC arrestees, visit www.RNC8.org.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.