With anger and passion, protests hit the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. For days, thousands of demonstrators put a people’s agenda in the face of Democratic Party politicians.
Confronted with a powerful message of equality, justice and liberation, the authorities struck back. The Los Angeles Police Department launched an attack on demonstrators who had come together at the Ozamotli/Rage Against The Machine Concert. The police, on horseback and motorcycles, used nightsticks, tear gas, and plastic bullets.
Organizers did their homework and were prepared to counteract the new repression that has accompanied every large demonstration since the Battle of Seattle. Months of planning, organizing legal support, and trainings on police tactics paid off.
That being said, the rules the LAPD played by were their own rules – they aimed to injure as many people as possible, employing the flimsiest of pretexts to trample on the right to protest.
A few weeks earlier in Philadelphia, more than 400 people were jailed at the Republican Convention. Those arrested showed incredible courage and conviction as they resisted outrageous treatment by jailers, off-the-chart bails (up to 1 million dollars), and ridiculous charges. This is America’s future.
Last year’s Battle of Seattle was a turning point. It was front-page news in every country. U.S. union workers joined forces with young activists and struggling people around the world to oppose the World Trade Organization (WTO). The rich and the powerful received a kick in the head as their dreams of furthering corporate globalization, where they can step up their exploitation of workers abroad and at home, dissolved in the clouds of tear gas.
After Seattle, the U.S. ruling class launched a plan to meet demonstrations with greater police and FBI repression. In the Third World, where the anti-globalization protests began more than ten years ago, police and armies working for U.S. imperialism have dished out worse treatment.
As conservatives within the Democratic Party tighten their grip on power, providing no alternative to the Republican Party, the spirit of Seattle was carried by the people’s movement onto the streets of Los Angeles and Philadelphia, to protest both corporate political parties.
People marching in Los Angeles follow in the steps of those who protested the World Trade Organization in Seattle, WA; the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C.; the Organization of American States meeting in Windsor, Canada/Detroit, MI; and the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, PA. In the U.S., this new movement – with its local, national, and international dimensions – has been great in its creativity, determination, and anti-capitalist orientation.
Like any movement that involves real people, it has strengths and weaknesses, which result in debates on how to move forward. For example, at the International Monetary Fund protest in Washington D.C., a number of top leaders of union movement engaged in China-bashing – which pits the interests of American workers against our fellow workers in China. This was wrong, but it’s a mistake to confuse the missteps of the few with the forward march of the many.
“SHUT DOWN THE SOA!”
On Nov. 17-19 the “Shut Down the School of the Americas!” protest at Fort Benning, GA is the place to be. Fort Benning is where the U.S. trains Latin American soldiers to kill and maim their own people in the interest of U.S. corporations and domination.
The focus of this year’s protest will be on the $1.3 billion that the Clinton/Gore White House has given to Colombia’s government and military. Over 10,000 Colombian military personnel have trained at the SOA. The Colombian armed forces, along with the death squads that it organizes and assists, have the worst human rights record in Latin America.
35,000 Colombians have died in the past five years in the war between the Colombian government and the people’s democratic movement for national liberation. The U.S. Plan Colombia has already had an enormous impact, unleashing the death squads to kill dozens of peasants every week since Clinton sent the money. Six schoolchildren were ambushed by Colombia’s military just prior to Clinton’s billion-dollar check hand-over. That is the reality of Plan Colombia – the hard edge of globalization as the U.S. tries to expand its empire of the dollar.
Shut Down the SOA!
U.S. Out of Colombia!
No More El Salvadors!
No more Viet Nams!