Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Monday, September 01, 2008

HOT DAY IN ST. PAUL

It was a wonderful protest in the heat today as well over 10,000 (I'd guess up to 20,000) people marched from the state capitol to the downtown convention center where the Republican National Convention (RNC) is being held. The march, led by a delegation of people of color and then Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was warmly cheered by thousands of people who stood along the parade route. I saw no problems during the march that lasted a couple of hours. Organizers had predicted 50,000 and of course the media is now saying they failed. Another example why it's never a good idea to make crowd predictions before an event.

Virtually all one can find on the news though is the few isolated incidents of anarchists who broke some windows, turned over some trash cans, blocked some highways, and in a few cases attacked police and RNC delegates. The media is reporting that about 100 of these folks were arrested but they are getting virtually all of the media. Amy Goodman has been arrested as well.

There were huge numbers of young people in the march and they were creative and played a vital role in making the march a great event. But once again we see the window smashing antics played up by the media in order to discredit the overall message. As I searched the Internet for a photo of the very long line of march none were to be found. Virtually every photo, like the one above, were of police confrontations with the anarchists. God knows how many of them are government agents.

Before the march began I ran into old friend Marv Davidov who is 77 years old and has been an activist for 50 years. Marv, one of the most well known radicals in Minnesota, and I first met in the early 1980's when we both served on the national coordinating committee of Mobilization for Survival. Marv has been on kidney dialysis for the last couple of years but still joined the march today. He is a man full of wonderful stories from many years of organizing. He told a reporter today, "Progressive people like to kill their leaders and I've been killed at least six times during my career."

I marched with the large Veterans for Peace contingent, which was right behind the IVAW. It was stirring to see both groups chanting together, "They're our brothers, they're our sisters. We support all war resisters."

As we were another time chanting "This is what democracy looks like" a reporter on the sidewalk listening to us felt she must correct us as we passed her by - "This is not a democracy, it's a constitutional republic," she said with a sneer.

I had a nice connection with friend Ray McGovern who used to work for the CIA. He's come to Maine twice for events I organized and I was glad to see him out on the streets. He's been getting treatment for cancer and was very happy to be in the march.

The best chant of the day came after the march was over. I was leaning up against a big shade tree back at the capitol watching people make their way back from the parade. One small group of grey hairs came by chanting: "What do we want? Beer! When do we want it? Now!"

My sentiments exactly.

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