Saturday, October 08, 2005

Journal Entries: 2000 Republican Convention Protest 7/28/00-8/3/00

Commentary: Another Journal entry I found when going through old discs. Stylistically it may be a bit rough to read obviously, because the sole purpose was for my personal use to remember things.

I've written about many of these events on the blog when I was bored at work. I did this from Japan without the benefit of this journal in front of me, so the two versions may contradict each other at certain points. That can be chalked up to the way memory fades after 5 years I suppose. Anyone who is interested in comparison's sake can read this account of the Anarchists debating about the nature of democracy, this account of my interaction with the Sparticist member, this account of the under-cover police infiltration, and this continuation of the day following the under-cover police bust.

We (Amber and I) left on Thursday night on the greyhound bus, and didn’t get to Philadelphia until Friday afternoon. Along the way we encountered a couple other interesting characters. There was a Christian Music distributor. Nice guy even though he loved the sound of his own voice a little too much. He rode with us the whole way from Grand Rapids to Philly. The final stretch from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia we met two other protesters-who were about our age. They were engaged to eachother, and were very friendly and talkative to us, although I would later joke that they were not entirely in touch with reality. (They seemed a little scatterbrained in their thinking. They tried to tell me that Marlboro cigarettes was affiliated with the KKK because their were hidden Ks on the box. When I asked the guy why he was going to the protest, he responded, "Well I was at this Pink Floyd laser light show…" The story eventually came out that he was shrooming at this show, and on the way out he passed a tree, and somehow he knew then that he was supposed to fight for justice everywhere.)

At any rate, it was an interesting conversation with all of us, and a guy in back of us who was from the Navy joined in as well. There were also a bunch of cute kids running around, and a girl about 14 or so who was watching over them and at times involved in the conversation.

When we got to Philly, I had internet directions to the protest convergence center. (I was also easily able to spot several cops who were waiting to see who got off the buses.) I suggested the other two protesters come with us to the center, but they said they would find it later. (I would later briefly run into them a couple more times during the week).

We went to the convergence center, where Nicole (who I had e-mailed) was there. We were welcomed and given a newsletter, and then told that we could find out about tent city later in the day. We went to the West side of the city where training was going on, and attended an action training. (People we would later see during that week were at this training, including the 3 Union/ undercover cop guys-and one of the trainers was a man identified as MAC-the same guy who was the legal adviser at Windsor who confronted the plainclothes cops in the park.)

After the training ended, Amber and I tried to find out about tent city, and ended up just going back to the convergence center. We were told Tent city was not going on, but that we could stay at the YWCA. We weren’t given very good directions-and it took us a while to find the right bus, then we took this bus headed the wrong way. Eventually we got on the right bus headed the right way but we got off at the wrong stop. We had to walk 48 blocks through questionable neighborhoods. (Scared the pants off of my suburban ass, but I tried to act confident to keep Amber happy. It looked much worse in the dark then I think it really was, but at times I thought we were in the worst slums ever. Amber remarked more then once that it was the stupidest thing we had ever done. When we finally got to the YWCA, we were both exhausted, I had blistered on my feet, and I had soaked my only shirt for the week in sweat.-I had packed all my stuff in my school book bag-so I only took one t-shirt).

We spent some time talking to the other kids there. I would get to know them better as the week went on. (More on this later), and then went to bed.

SaturdayWe went to the park for a legal health care march. We listened to speeches for a long time before we marched. Amber and I were both interviewed by a lady from World Socialist, who was very friendly to us, and whom we would see a couple other times throughout the week. At the end of the march, we arrived at LOVE park, where we heard several speakers—including Ralph Nader.
And to my great surprise-when we got to the park we saw the David, Mark, Paul, and their mother. Mark and I had talked to a lot about going to philly, and Mark said Paul was interested in coming. However Mark had eventually told me he wasn’t coming b/c he couldn’t afford it.

What happened was Mark and Paul had decided to hitch hike to philly, got caught by the Police in Toledo, and their Mother and David had come to pick them up and bring them to Toledo. We spent the afternoon with them at the Park, walking back to their car with them. (From where we saw the abstinence march-put on by some religious group). Paul had had a terrible enough time on the trip over that he decided not to stay in Philly, so Mark was left with us. We had their mother drop us off at the convergence center. I inquired about tent city, but I was told I could stay at the YWCA the whole week if I wanted to, and that seemed much superior.

The three of us went to the West side in search of getting some free food, and eventually found it although we had to do some walking. It was at this open field in this pretty run down neighborhood that the activists were trying to turn into a garden for the community. After the food, I felt like helping a little bit, but Amber wanted to leave, so we did. We waited a long time for the bus, during which we talked to some local skateboarders about the protest. (They told us about some punk film festival).

We eventually made our way back.

Sunday
The three of us left for Unity 2000. We were picked up by a couple other activists from New York who were also staying at the Y and gave us a ride down to the march. Mark left once we got there to find out about Tent city (where he wanted to stay). I would run into him a couple more times that day, and then eventually see him that night. Monday morning would be the last time that week I would see him. (I assume he just found alternate housing, and David said Mark left Tuesday-which explains why I didn’t see him again.)

At Unity 2000, I saw my friends from YWCA. Although by this point there were a lot of different people staying at the Y, the same group was always hanging out in the lobby who I hung out w/ briefly each night. This group was dressed in "blackface" (black cloth covering up every part of their face except their eyes) and handing out literature that said "We are anarchists" and then going on to explain what anarchism was about. I was impressed when I saw them arguing with some old guy. "We’re not all bloodsucking capitalists," the old guy (middle aged actually) said. Later the old guy said, "you have to recognize that the majority of people don’t want anarchism."

"Why can’t we live in our anarchist commune?" one of them asked.

"Well you can, but you have to realize this is a democracy and—" They jumped all over him for that one.

"This is a plutocracy," one said. Another mentioned ancient Greece.

"Oh don’t bring me back to Ancient Greece" the old guy said. Finally, exasperated by being outnumbered, the old guy said, "Listen, just behave yourself like adults out there."

"He means go home," one of them said to another.

"No that’s not what I mean," the old guy yelled.

I was very impressed with these Anarchists. There was an older guy who hung out with these kids-how in the world he hooked up with them I’m not sure. He looked like he could pass for 40 (or maybe 50), but then again maybe he just looked a lot older then he was. I had fun at night being crowded around a TV set at night with these anarchists-watching the news-and listening to them make fun of it. Also humorous, that night when I mentioned to the anarchist I had seen them earlier, one of them was like "actually, no you didn’t". Reminding me of course that they had been in disguise technically. I apologized, but I thought it was humorous.

Anyway, we marched in the Unity 2000. All sorts of groups on the left were marching, and at one point I was pretty sure I was marching close to my role model-David McReynolds. Since I had on a Nader button though, I was embarrassed to identify myself as a YPSL member.
Speaking of which, one of the many groups there was someone from the sparticist (roughly my age). He was hawking an issue of Workers Vanguard, and I told him politely that I had more then enough free literature from this week without having to start buying it. He then asked me what I thought about the ISO’s endorsement of Nader. (He was the second person from the Sparticist to ask me this). I replied I didn’t agree with Nader on everything, but we must make use of the momentum his campaign has generated. He disagreed with me on this. At one point I reminded him that part of Marxist doctrine was that at times it is good to make a strategic alliance with the bourgeoisie. Someone from the International Socialist Organization was listening in, and said this was a very good point. The ISO guy was from Australia, and had a noticeable accent, and before long it was just the two of these guys going back and forth with eachother and Amber and I just being observers. Eventually the ISO guy left, and the Sparticist guy gave me a free copy of Workers Vanguard.

Amber was tired from the hot sun, and so she sat in the shade while I went and observed the rally. There was a march against Police Brutality which I went along with, since by this time in the afternoon I was looking for something to do. It was not a legal march, although I saw on the news that night that since it was an announced march the police chose to allow it. I did not know this at the time though, and was therefore worried about the large police escort. Some in the march seemed to be courting conflict with the police-and I was worried about what Amber would do if I was arrested, yet I didn’t dare leave the large group for fear of getting picked off. Eventually, when I saw others were getting away with leaving, I decided to sneak off.

Side note-there were fundamentalist street preachers who followed our protest where ever it went. However, on this march we passed a group of pro-life protesters lined up on the streets. Abortion has absolutely nothing to do with police brutality, and surely nothing is more pointless then two groups of protesters yelling at each other. Nevertheless, some of the more militant pro-choice women got the megaphone and made anti-prolife chants. One woman marched giving the middle finger to all the pro-life people. Both groups glared at eachother, and I was embarrassed to be in this march.

I ended up back at the Unity rally and remet up with Amber. It was a hot day, so lot of people were in the fountain. We went to get something to eat on the West Side, where we met up with Mark. Eventually we ended up at the Y again.

MondayWe arrived in to town a couple hours early because we had gotten kicked out of the Y. We stumbled upon a demonstration against the SOA. We watched from the opposite street corner as they decried the SOAs principles. Mark got bored and left, missing the most exciting part. The SOA people re-enacted a massacre, and put the dead actors in the middle of the intersection. A massive amount of police were there for only about 6 protesters. The police arrested the 6 people in the street eventually, after redirecting traffic for quiet some time. My favorite part was an elderly gentleman in an American flag shirt was so outraged that the protesters were getting away with their actions (it took the police a while to arrest them). "How come they get to block traffic? Arrest them. So I can just block traffic anytime I want?" He preceded to lay down right infront of a cab in the same intersection, causing the cab to slam on it’s brakes and a gasp came from the sidewalk. The cops were like, "sir, we’ll worry about them. Use your head sir."

We marched for economic rights that afternoon. Again, it was not a legal march, but the police ended up deciding to allow it (there were really too many of us for them to do much else.) There was an old guy marching close to us who had a sign "Revolution is inevitable-why not know. " He got quite a lot of attention. We did a long hot march all the way to the convention center (well, as close as we could get to it). It was so hot all the convenience stores on the way back were closed up.

It was Ambers birthday, so we stopped at a bar and she got something to drink. Afterwards, we went to the big group meeting. (We had been at this meeting yesterday too, but left when they broke into groups. I said we could join an affinity group tonight if necessary).

Unfortunately, that proved a little harder. We volunteered to join tactical 5 and 7, but with in that group there were a lot of little groups, and we were unaffiliated with them.

After the meeting I tried to talk to one of the organizers about finding out what I could do. I told him all I really wanted to know was where to show up and when, but he told me I really should be in a group. He asked me if I was planning on getting arrested, and I said I wasn’t a hard arrestible, and he told me not to join "the kid with the short red hair’s group." In the end though, I imagine just because he couldn’t think of any other easy place to put me, I was refered to this kid. The red haired kid referred me to a meeting at the Puppetista center the next day.

TuesdayAfter hearing warnings not to go into the city without a group, I was nervous to begin with. We were in the downtown area only long enough to switch to the subway and go to the Westside. We found the puppet place, but the first meeting was for spokespeople only, so we killed time until 10.

The place was very romantic in the rundown sense of the word. It was an old abandoned falling apart building with trash all over the place—the perfect place to plan a revolution. They were very careful about the undercover cops. Amber and I were quizzed at the door to find out why we were there and then when we met up with the group they were cautious about us—until the guy with the short red hair, "Sully", vouched for us. It was ironic because it later turned out 3 guys who were in the group long before us, the union guys, were undercover cops.

They were 3 big beefy white guys with big guts and short red hair. From the moment I saw them on Friday they looked like cops. Yet everyone else was so trusting of these guys I didn’t question it. They talked about past protests they had been in, and they were constantly joking and laughing. Plus they looked like union guys as well as cops. Because the 3 of them looked practically identical (one being taller then the other 2) and because they were so scared of the cops (the tall one, Harry, mentioned to us to watch him closely because he thought the cops would target him) I found them very amusing. Why would guys their size be afraid of anything? Also, their constant joking made me smile several times. They were well-liked.

We met outside in a small courtyard—which also had trash all over it. Sully had two maps, and was using them to demonstrate our plan. There were 3 levels of risk we could take. Highest was lockdown, then sit in, then support. Amber and I volunteered for sit in. After Sully explained with the maps, we practiced a couple times in the courtyard. The lockdown people would leave in a van. The sit in and support people would gradually congregate in the greyhound station. Then, at a certain time they would leave to go on a march. Both groups would be in communication via cell-phone. They would use these cell phones to ensure they both got to the intersection at the same time. The sit in people would block traffic at the intersection. The van would pretend to be stopped just like all the other cars while the police were focused on those blocking traffic. Then, the people would pile out of the van, the sit in people would form a soft barricade around them, and the van people would lock themselves down.

Also, while there we heard numerous reports of people who looked like protesters being stopped for absolutely no reason by the police. Since Amber and I certainly looked like protesters, I was nervous. Amber wanted to get something to eat, so we stopped at a restaurant. There was a cop there, which made me very nervous. I told Amber not to make any comments about protesting for the rest of the day, since you never knew who was a cop, but she made several small comments, much to my annoyance.

We went to a protest center, and left just as they were closing it up. While there, we heard reports of the puppet place getting raided. If we had left perhaps a half hour later, we would have been arrested in the raid.

We made our way to the bus station. As suggested by one of the organizers, Amber and I played up the boyfriend-girlfriend thing, b/c apparently that throws off the cops. We weren’t making out or anything, just teasing each other. Gradually, in what seemed like a spy movie, we noticed our fellow protesters accumulating. Eventually people started to gather together, and Amber and I went over.

We were informed that it was all over. The cops had made a pre-emptive strike-pulling over the van and arresting it’s occupants. One of the undercover cops-"Harry" (the tall one) had actually been driving the van. He had volunteered for it somewhat reluctantly when they needed a driver. The other two union/cop guys were distraught by this. "Ah fuck, that means Harry’s probably in jail. What are we going to do now?"

We would later find out it happened like this. The cops pulled the van over. They were going to try and pass it off like it was no bid deal, and Harry just gave the cops his license. The cops told Harry to just go, and then they proceeded to arrest the people in the back. The cops had forgotten about Harry, who preceded to sit down in front of the van. When the cops realized where he was, they slammed him down and arrested him. Until I found out Harry was undercover, I had great respect for his bravery.

There was some confusion about what to do next. A group talked about going to an intersection to aid in whatever was going on over there. Amber and I ended up falling in with this group. There were a line of people (one person thick) covering one side of the intersection. One of the fundamentalist preachers was there with his sign. A line of cops were behind the protesters. I was torn between my desire to be a part of the action and my desire not to get arrested. Those sitting in the street called for more people to come and sit behind them. At different times both Amber and I were in the intersection, but once I realized how few people were coming to form a second line (at times it was jut me) I retreated to the sidewalk. I tried to do support (offering those sitting some of my water) but they really had more then enough people doing that, so eventually I just held a sign from the safety of the curb. Those sitting in the street chanted and sang as more cops lined up behind them. Eventually, one of the cops came up behind them and told them they had one chance to get up and leave before they were all arrested. They all got up and left.

After that, Amber and I wandered around for a while, trying to figure out where we should go next. We wandered into another intersection blockade. The exact same people were blocking a second intersection. This time the cops had them surrounded, saving me from making the choice of joining them or not (there was no way to get to them) although once again I held my sign from the curb. (It was a sign someone else had made and I just picked up. It said "Educate, not incarcerate, homes not prisons, houses not jails"). Eventually, these people left voluntarily too. The cops cleared everyone from the sidewalk, and Amber and I left slowly when we were told to do so.

One of the republican delegates struck up a conversation with me. He indicated my sign. "You know, Habitat for humanity does a lot of work with that."

"I know, I volunteer for them," I answered. He abruptly changed the subject.

"You know, it’s not the anti-death penalty people object to so much as Mumia being a poster child for it." We got into a debate about Mumia’s guilt or innocence. (Amber and I maintained that he maybe guilty, but deserves a new trial).

While talking to this guy, a girl pulled me aside. It was a convenient way for Amber and I to exit the conversation. The girl asked me if we knew what was going on. I said no, and she told me to come to a certain intersection at a certain time. Since it was almost that time anyway, Amber and I just headed over to that intersection, where protesters were beginning to congregate.
We got attention there from some of the delegates, one of whom (a girl probably about my age) took a picture of me with my sign. "Look scary" someone suggested. Then, to our not so great surprise, the same people who had blocked the previous two intersections appeared. They crossed the street when the walk signal flashed, and then all sat down in the intersection. I again lentsupport from the curb. One enraged citizen ran up and tried to bread the protesters apart himself. We all made the "Ohm" noise and pointed our fingers at him. He reacted in confusion to all the attention, and eventually left.

Those blocking the intersection decided on the daring move of changing their position to block the middle of the intersection. They stood up and ran, the cops tried to stop them and were somewhat successful. They didn’t get the diagonal line stopping the whole intersection like they wanted, but did get to sit down in the middle and were somewhat of a nuisance. Eventually the same thing happened, the cops gave them the option and they chose to leave rather then be arrested. However, they left to the other side of the intersection, and a bunch of us on the curb were separated for them.

We gathered at our end of the curb and tried to see if anyone knew what to do next. No one did, but someone pointed out that the cops at the nearby building were watching us. We looked over, and the cops were watching us from behind a glass window. One of the cops even waved at us. We decided to relocate ourselves. We walked down the street not really knowing where we were going. For a brief period people were following me, under the mistaken impression I knew what was going on. I quickly cleared that up.

Then, after a day of disappointing direct action, I saw my wet dream. A huge march was happening ahead. I excitedly pointed it out, and we quickly moved down to join it. I’m bad with estimating numbers, but it was a huge number of people swarming over the streets. As we got closer, most of them were anarchists in black face. As we approached, they were pillaging the nearby construction site. About 5 of them were relocating a fence into the middle of the street. Another group moved a street sign into the middle of the street, and then knocked it over. The older anarchist was yelling at some kid who had taken his picture, and even tried to grab the kid. Trash cans were knocked down all over the street. "Hey you kids," Yelled one enraged citizen. "You knocked that trash over, now you pick it up!" The anarchists kept on marching. He moved like he was going to hit somebody, but his buddy held him back.

We turned the corner. The police were there, but really powerless to do something with all these numbers we had. A kid in blackface raised his fist in salute as we swarmed past. The republican delegate amber and I had talked to before was on the sidewalk, and very disappointed to see us. "Hey you, guy with the white shirt. Girl with the green back pack. I know you. Why are you doing this?" We ignored him and kept on marching.

As we turned the next corner, things got really beautiful. The march headed towards center city. There was traffic in the street, but the marchers, swarmed around the traffic, forcing all the cars to stop while the helpless occupants looked out. The police went into the street, but the march simply swarmed by them. With all this going on, and those red and black flags waving, it would have made a great picture if I hadn’t have run out of film just at that minute (esp. with center city in the background). A limousine was caught up in the middle of the march, and subjected to some abuse. They jumped on it, throw paint bombs on it, and flicked off however was inside it (tinted windows made it hard to see).

A concrete block was lifted into the street. I thought this was just to block the street, and then "Sam" one of the anarchists we knew from the YWCA-picked it up and threw it through the back window of the cop truck right in front of us. Like the whole thing happened maybe 5 feet away from us or so. (Sam was perhaps the anarchist I remember best. He reminded me a little bit of my best friend.
The female officer in the truck stayed put, and we walked around the car.

We ended up back by the legal rally, where some of the people from our action group were. Mark and white beard asked us what was going one, and I excitedly told them about how this group had taken control of the streets. Adding the part about the smashed cop window, I said that their tactics were questionable, but they definitely had control of the street.

In later retellings of this story, I have implied or said that once I joined this march I couldn’t leave. In fact I had several opportunities to leave, the intersection with the legal rally being the most obvious. But we bypassed it, and kept marching. I stayed with the March because I wanted to be part of the action, even though it almost got me arrested.

The anarchist pulled down an American flag type decoration (although not an actual flag) and asked around who had a lighter, and eventually began burning it (although I don’t think it burned quite as nicely as they would have liked). We kept going. Their was a heavy cop presence watching the march, and there were continued calls to stick together so the cops couldn’t break us apart. Nevertheless, the march was disorganized enough that their were several weak points, and the cops on horseback were able to break the march into two at one point.

There was panic in the march for some reason I don’t even know why. We heard reports of people near the edges being yanked out and arrested, which I don’t know if it was true but don’t doubt it. I at the time also thought part of the crowd was tear-gassed. Since I didn’t see anything about that in the papers the next day, I don’t know if that was true. However there was a great since of panic. I grabbed Amber by the hand. We both had our signs at this point (she had picked up a sign along the way too), but I told her to just drop it and run. I told her to stay with the crowd to avoid being arrested.

The chronology of the rest of the march escapes me. I remember running at various points. I remember more the once seeing the cops surround the march, and telling Amber it was all over and we were all going to get arrested, only to see the cops back off and let the march through. I remember at one point when the cops had us surrounded we went over a guard rail into a parking lot to try and escape them. I was hesitant, wanting to stay with the crowd and going into the parking lot at first and then back into the street when it seemed the majority of people were staying there. One of the protesters yelled out, "Hey, this is a hospital, you fucking sheep." And we chanted, "this is a hospital," to let those people know who were running into the parking lot. They eventually rejoined the group (finding other avenues cut off by the police) and the police allowed us to continue down the road.

I also remember a lot of destruction. Abandoned cop cars in the march’s path were paint bombed, jumped on, and in a couple cases had their windshields broken by skateboards. Kids in black face opened up the backs of buses and were doing something to them, I have no idea what. A dumpster was dragged into the street at one point. A fox news van was rocked back and forth, with the intent of turning it over, but when they could not get it over fast enough, they left it and ran on. At another point they tried to burn an american flag again, but another protester talked them out of it because of a car with an open hood nearby. And graffiti was everywhere. Especially those little circled As.

Amber was more appalled then I was. She would yell at the anarchists at times to stop it, and once told me that we had seen enough already she disagreed with, but I told her we needed to stay with the group or we would be arrested.

Eventually, we ended up again at the legal rally. This time everyone went marching up and dispersed themselves into the crowd. There were those who wanted to keep marching, but the cops flanked us on most sides, and left us little choice.

As always, helicopters were watching us from above. Many of the Anarchists had brought change of clothes with them, which they switched into once under the cover of the crowd. I took off my bandanna, but that’s really all I could do. At one point we saw some of our anarchist friends meeting, planning their escape. (I overheard something about a certain cop looking for them). They eventually managed to disappear, I’m not sure how. (the cops had the legal rally surrounded, it was impossible to just leave.) A group of anarchists, I’m not sure if it was our anarchists or not (they were in blackface), ran through the police barricade. The cops chased them into the street a little bit and then let them go.

Not long after we got there, a group surged into the street chanting about Mumia. I hesitated before joining them (I felt like I had just escaped danger, and wasn’t ready to plunge myself back into it), and then the cops relieved me of my choice by barricading the legal rally in. We on the outside though chanted "the whole world is watching." The cops cleared the intersection out eventually, and then the next intersection was blocked. This was a little farther away, but I could see the cops charge in on horseback swinging their batons, and at one point there was a lot of smoke over there, which I thought was tear gas at the time, but the papers said was a smoke bomb released by the protesters.

The legal rally still proceeded. One black activist gave a searing indictment of the black cops. Eventually the protest organizers negotiated with the police to let us cross the street, and we were able to disperse from there.

Amber and I went back to the YWCA, where we were pleased to see most of our anarchist friends had made it back okay. (a girl with a broken arm, short hair in back and two long strands in front, one blue one purple was not there. I didn’t even notice at the time, but saw plenty of pictures on line later of her arrest). We watched independent TV with the anarchists before going to bed.

WednesdayWe left the YWCA. For some reason we were not allowed to stay there another night, but were given directions to tent city b/f we left. We talked to Cliff and Jon (two people in our direct action group) on the bus. We went to a anti-citi bank rally. Then we went to march for women’s rights (I was interviewed by the press there. Since Amber and I were interviewed several times by several people, I didn’t expect to see myself in print, but Rachel e-mailed me when we got back about my quotes. It should be noted the reporter made me sound a lot better then I deserved to).

We left there to go to a jail solidarity meeting. I talked to an Australian activist on the way over. We arrived at the park across the jail, and the police presence there was just incredible, considering the activist weren’t doing anything more harmful then a puppet show (Goat with a vote). Eventually the police let us stay at the park. We chanted about freeing the political prisoners inside. (Especially the "puppetistas" who were arrested just for being in that warehouse where we had planned our direct action).

I ran into an activist from Windsor. "You were in Windsor, weren’t you?" I said. "I knew you were going to say that," he answered. "I was goody there, now I’m Wishbone." Since "Wishbone" was one of the people who had been arrested Tuesday (the day I left Windsor) I asked him how things went, and he said he had gotten out by Friday. (He was one of the people arrested at the school). I was surprised to learn he was an American. He was so well liked by the Canadians I just assumed he had known them before the protest.

The protest negotiators negotiated with the police, and they allowed us to camp in the park. Amber was worried about it, but we decided to do it b/c we didn’t really know where ten t city was. (The police presence was still pretty big, and we expected to get raided that night, but it never happened). Amber and I went into our tent as soon as it started raining. The rain cleared up. We got free food leftover from the shadow convention. It was weird camping in a the middle of the city. Cars would pass and people would either yell their support or "Protesters go home/. Get a job."
Eventually we went to sleep.

Thursday
Amber and I were put in charge of watching on part of the park for a while by an organizer who seemed to me to be a little paranoid. He pointed out all the people he was certain were undercover cops (and he was probably right, but it’s a public park. What are you going to do?). We were approached by to very weird old guys. One of whom wanted to video tape us, but then kept telling his own opinions and not even pointing the camera at us most of the time. The other one was his brother, who had fought in Korea, joined the Communist party, and organized the folk festival of 1962 in which only he knew that the money raised was being funneled to the communist party. He then joined the SWP, the Minute men, and then the KKK. (Rather abrupt shift there).

We planned a rally, and the press showed up in droves. People talked about their jail experiences. Chris Rock showed up to lend his support, and although he was immediately swarmed by the media, I got a glimpse of him. Rev. Al Sharpton also showed up and delivered a speech.

We marched around the jail several times, chanting and antagonizing the cops. People eventually started returning to the park (it was a hot day, and I had to carry my back pack with me everywhere), so after a few times around I two came back.

A girl showed up who was very emotional. She was from the media department of the organization, and they had called a press conference to make people aware of police brutality. We had never gotten the message though, and held the rally instead. In fact, some people had been pretty rude, telling the press not to video tape them and not answering their questions. (Which I guess was fine for a private rally, but not for a press conference). She wanted to discuss things and called a spokes meeting. She did so, and told the mass media not to tape them. Most of them did anyway.

A bunch of bizarre incidents happened. The people not in affinity groups were told to pick an affinity group and chose a spokes. One of the girls nominated herself as spokes, but nobody chose her. She claimed it was because she was female and when the facilitator (also a female) questioned her right to speak, she became very emotional and called the facilitator a dictator. She raised such a fuss that the facilitator let her stay "fine, you represent two people." Later the facilitator made mention of that argument, and the girl became so enraged at being singled out she left after a lot of crying and yelling. She later believed she would be singled out by the police for arrest because of the outburst, and blamed the facilitator. (BTW, the facilitator was chosen b/c the media girl wanted someone she knew facilitating).

We discussed the police brutality. Someone talked about his experience in jail, but when he showed his wounds, the media girl started crying, and said she had been hearing this all day, and couldn’t handle anymore.

The fundamentalists were there as well. I still think it is best to ignore these guys, but I understand it is hard. A bunch of people surrounded them and started imitating the sins they said were damnable (IE-two guys made out when they talked about homosexuality. They worshiped the puppets when they talked about idolatry. Vermin Supreme, a very funny man running for president, led them on with his own bullhorn, and was hilarious, but ultimately I disagree with his tactics.) We heard rumors that Rev. Jim Phelps, anti-gay king, was at another intersection protesting gays, and a bunch of people left to protest him.

Wishbone/ Goody announced that he had found an undercover cop. A black man with an independent media pass. Others vouched that they had seen him as a cop before, and he was eventually asked to leave (he had pushed another protester against the wall, which is how Wishbone found him out). Wishbone also said he had found the undercover cops who had given away our warehouse-the 3 union guys. Wishbone said he had seen them in their uniform. They had chosen to blow their cover b/c they "wanted to be their when our heads got cracked." I talked about this with some people from our action group, and we agreed it seemed very reasonable. (harry had apparently gotten out of jail the same afternoon he was arrested. No way would the driver be able to cite out, when the owner of the van was found and arrested).
A cop wandered around our meeting taking pictures. They had been taking pictures of us all week, but this was pushing it when we were having a peaceful meeting and he was blatantly taking pictures of everyone. Someone tried to block his view, but he was told by another police officer he had better not touch the policeman.

Eventually amber and I left to catch our bus. We said good-bye to those in our action group, maybe we’ll see them at another protest (I was still hoping to be in LA at this point, before reality set it). The anarchists, the other people I wanted to say good-bye to, I didn’t see. They had been there the night before, although didn’t want to stay in a place where the cops knew where they were. However they were there that afternoon. I don’t know where they were when we were leaving, but I trust they all made it back safely.

No comments: