The Anti-War Movement Faces Off With the DNC
By Les Blough & Beth Henry Aug 2, 2004, 20:00
To view the Axis of Logic Audio-visual and Photographic Journal of the July 25, 2004 demonstration against war and occupation at the Democratic National Convention go to ANSWER Mobilization.
Since 9/11/01, we have participated in about 30 protests against the latest wars of the ruling class. Yesterday’s demonstration against war on Boston Common and our march to the Fleet Center was nothing less than a unparalleled success. It began with long-range strategic planning by Boston ANSWER. The city and federal governments and corporate media set the stage with fear-mongering about the possibility of a “terrorist” strike during the Democratic National Convention being held this week at the Fleet Center in Boston. Using that platform of fear, they exposed their new police state as never before – drawn from all over Massachusetts, neighboring states and Federal Agencies under the pretext of the “war on terrorism”.
The Police State
The Boston Police Department, Police Departments from cities and towns across Massachusetts, the State Police, FBI, INS, Secret Service, U.S. Capital Police, National Guard and Coast Guard came together to protect the city from this “dangerous protest” – all under the umbrella of “Homeland Security”. When we were driving back to Boston from New Hampshire at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, we saw caravans of uniformed police coming down I-93 into Boston, led by police cruisers with lights flashing. The flood of police that enveloped our demonstration yesterday was beyond absurdity. They stalked our protest in khakis, casual wear, business suits, uniforms, full battle gear, guns, headphones and exposed body armor that some U.S. troops lack in Baghdad. One can only imagine what this preposterous and excessive show of force is costing U.S. taxpayers.
During the week preceding our demonstration and protest March, the corporate media plugged the “security” forces as being in position as a “precaution for possible violence by the protestors”. In the 29 protests I have been with ANSWER in the last 3 years, our protestors have never carried out a single act of violence and the media knows it. In our final planning meeting last week, one woman asked, “If they are here to stop a terrorist attack, why are they directing their forces against legal, civil, peaceful protestors?” She added that we are not only protesting against the war in Iraq, we are defending our civil rights assemble and to speak out.
The Right and Duty to Protest
Boston and New York ANSWER planned this action brilliantly, mobilizing thousands of people for yesterday’s demonstration against the wars promised by a new Kerry Administration. We were successful in spite of the powerful tide of DNC money and their media and other activist groups who are complicit with the Democratic Party in the U.S. Other activist groups protested the “condition of the pens” built by the government to cage them. The cages are surrounded by razor wire and capped with netting.
We didn’t protest the “condition of the cages”. We protested the existence of cages and any other attempts by government to silence us and suppress our civil rights under the constitution. When many from these other groups saw the power of this protest developing in Boston Common, they joined us. Our right to dissent includes our responsibility to protest when we see our communities placed under martial law and our government executing illegal, immoral wars and occupations.
When the City of Boston denied our right to take our protest down Causeway Street to the front door of the DNC at the Fleet Center, we used their own weapons against them. We filed a lawsuit in Federal Court last Monday and demanded our right to confront John Kerry at the Fleet Center with his promises. On Thursday, we won the right to do just that, and yesterday we did. Led by the ANSWER sound truck, 5,000 people marched from Boston Common, up Beacon Street to the State House on Beacon Hill where John Kerry’s plush town house sits on multi-million dollar real estate. We marched down the other side of Beacon Hill to the Fleet Center and back to Boston Common thundering anti-war, anti-imperialist chants:
“WHOSE STREETS? – OUR STREETS!!!”
“MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION NOT FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION!!!”
“SHOW ME WHAT FASCISM LOOKS LIKE? THIS IS WHAT FASCISM LOOKS LIKE!!!”
(as we marched past the cages they built for us);
BRICK BY BRICK, WALL BY WALL FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL!!!
EL PUEBLO … UNIDO … JAMAS SERA VENCIDO!!!
THE PEOPLE UNITED! WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!!!
On Boston Common
On the Boston Common, a high spirited, multi-ethnic, racially-diverse crowd of 5,000 listened to moving speakers from Haiti, Columbia, Palestine, Mexico, Venezuela, the Philippines, Native America, Korea and the United States. They sat on Boston Common and listened to riveting speeches representing Fanmi Lavalis (Haiti); New England Human Rights Organization for Haiti; National Committee to Free the Cuban 5; MLK Bolivarian Circle (Boston); Nation of Islam; Support Network for an Armed Forces Union (SNAFU); Veterans for Peace; United American Indians of New England; Equal Marriage Solidarity Coalition; Women’s Fightback Network; Women’s Global Strike; Mass Trans Political Coalition; North Carolina Green Party; Disabled Peoples Liberation Front; Guns & Butter, KPFA (San Francisco); Korea Truth Commission; Sanctuary City Homeless Encampment, Union of Minority Neighborhoods and Chelsea Uniting Against the War.
Excellent speakers represented the workers of the world including Brenda Stokely, President of AFSCME District Council 1707 and Clarence Thomas ILWU Local 10. Brenda and Clarence are Co-Conveners of the Million Worker March, launched yesterday and scheduled to move into Washington D.C. on October 17, 2004. Watch Axis of Logic for more information on the Million Worker March in coming days and weeks. Workers were also represented at Sunday’s demonstration by Greater Roxbury Workers Association; Workers World Party; USWA 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers (United Steel Workers); AFSME and Association of Mexican-American Workers.
At the beginning of the demonstration the audience was energized by the powerful anti-war lyrics of Movement in Motion. Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner opened his speech by saying that he is ashamed to be an elected official in the midst of all that we are seeing around us in Boston this week. Larry Holmes, Co-Director of International Action Center, gave a powerful speech on war and oppression. Clarence Thomas launched the Million Worker March scheduled for October. Yoomi Jeong, of the Korea Truth Commission, galvanized the mass gathering as she demanded the end to U.S. occupation of Korea. Leslie Feinberg gave an uplifting presentation on the achievements Gays and Lesbians. Ahmed Kawash brought the plight of Palestinians and the blight of the Israeli occupation of Palestine to the demonstration. Steve Gillis hammered the government for their attacks on working women and men of America. Farrah Juste captivated the audience as she described the CIA kidnapping of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and demanded his return to his democratically-elected position as President of Haiti. The audience listened quietly to many other speakers deliver information and inspiration surrounding demands to causes of stop wars, colonization, economic injustice and Americans’ need for good public education, health care, living wages and fair housing practices.
This demonstration was attended by significant numbers of people from across the country who vigorously demanded an end to invasions by the U.S. government on foreign. They demanded an end to the economic attacks by government on us, here in the U.S. and on the people working for corporate profits abroad. They demanded an end to the war and occupation of Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq and that U.S. troops be brought home immediately. This demonstration and protest clarified and addressed the Democratic Party’s intention to continue the war and occupation of Iraq under new Kerry administration. ANSWER won a significant lawsuit that forced the government to recognize the peoples’ right to assembly and free speech.
For these reasons, it had greater symbolic and historic significance than any other national protest in the U.S. since September 11, 2001.
Mass Media Deception
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the deceptive coverage of these protests by the corporate media. One only had to watch the television coverage of the demonstration by CNN and others. On the evening following the July 25 DNC anti-war protest in Boston, CNN showed a five-second video of about 100 people scattered across Boston Common before the crowd of 5,000 gathered, leaving the impression that it was attended by only about 100 people. They did not show a single excerpt from a single speech that was delivered. They focused on a single incident in which a man who obviously came to disrupt the demonstration was asked to leave. When he refused, a few activists surrounded him until the police arrived to extract him from the audience. CNN’s angle on the incident was that “activists assaulted the man”.
In other corporate media coverage, they gave far greater attention to a few anti-abortionists who had a “die-in”, calling them 1,000 in number. A simple Internet search on “DNC protests”, “ANSWER DNC protests” or “July 25 Protests” shows the same abysmal, deceptive practice throughout the corporate media. We meant to show our photographs of the ANSWER DNC protests, contrasting them with the photos shown by the corporate media …. but could find none of their pictures of the protestors on the day after.
The deception is so marked that one has to ask, “Why are they afraid to tell the American People what really happened in Boston on July 25, 2004?” We congratulate Boston ANSWER for winning their brilliant, strategic lawsuit against the City of Boston, and for mobilizing a magnificent protest against U.S. war, occupation and empire. View Axis of Logic’s audio-visual and photographic coverage of the ANSWER DNC Protests:
Please refer back to this article. More video and still photos will be added in coming days.
VOTE ON YOUR FEET! VOTE ON THE STREET!