Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Demonstrators support political prisoners, reject Democrats' war policies
The author is an Iraq War Veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate for congress in the 22nd District in Florida. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to find out more about PSL candidates running in local and national elections.
A week of demonstrations, rallies, and teach-ins was organized by the coalition "Recreate ’68", evoking the militant demonstrations against the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which was met with brutal police repression. While the police riot of 1968 was not a reality in 2008, the Denver police had an overwhelming presence, with the purpose of intimidating dissenters and violently smashing any misstep by demonstrators. Nearly 200 activists were arrested, and the police were consistently caught on camera using extremely excessive force.
In the midst of over 5,000 police in riot gear, caged off "protest areas" and nearly $1,000,000 in new surveillance equipment, the Party for Socialism and Liberation had a significant presence, educating protesters and convention-goers about the Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear’s presidential campaign and the hypocrisy of the bourgeois elections.
The week of activities included demonstrations, teach-ins, concerts and creative street actions. On Sunday, Aug. 24, an anti-war rally in front of Colorado’s capitol building highlighted that the Democratic Party was really a party of war in spite of the anti-war sentiment of millions of workers who count themselves as Democrats. The PSL contingent displayed a banner calling for amnesty for all immigrants. Many were attracted to the banner, which linked the struggle against racist U.S. oppression abroad to the struggle against racist oppression at home. Speakers at the rally included Fred Hampton Jr., Cindy Sheehan and Cynthia McKinney, and it ended with a performance by hip-hop group Dead Prez.
The rally had in attendance some DNC delegates and convention participants. The presence of Obama supporters at the anti-war rally reflected a strong desire for an end to the war amongst those pledging their support for Obama. Many people believe or hope that Obama will offer solutions to such pressing issues as the war and the economic crisis. Those with whom we spoke seemed to support Obama because they feel they have no other option and are afraid of a McCain administration, which is viewed as a continuation of the Bush policies of war, racism, and exploitation. Despite their support for Obama, there was an understanding that the struggle must continue in the streets.
The march started after the rally, going from the capitol building to the Pepsi Center—the venue for the convention. The anti-war demonstration was particularly significant because Obama and the Democratic Party have positioned themselves to be the electoral voice of the anti-war movement. With the vast majority of people opposed to the U.S. wars in the Middle East, many see a vote for Obama as a vote against the war. Unfortunately, these same false hopes placed in the last congressional elections produced only further unfettered funding for the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama’s plan for Iraq is not a withdrawal, but merely a different strategy for what has been an unsuccessful occupation. His plan for a reduction in the number of troops in Iraq is not intended to end the imperialist occupation, but simply a repositioning of them to Afghanistan in preparation for further imperialist actions elsewhere in the world. The anti-war march sent a message to the convention-goers and the Democratic Party that their intentions are well-understood.
The following day, a rally and march demanded freedom for political prisoners. Thousands of workers and residents witnessed at lunchtime the demonstration that filled the mall and the sidewalk in downtown Denver. The unjust imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Jena 6 and the more than two million workers punished by the racist criminal "justice" system were brought to light. The PSL marched with a banner calling for freedom for the Cuban 5. The banner was well photographed, and thousands of flyers explaining case of the five heroes were distributed.
The march ended at the Denver federal building, where Gloria La Riva spoke representing the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. She spoke about the role of the U.S. government in persecuting and jailing freedom fighters. She pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government in the continued incarceration of the Cuban Five, while convicted counterrevolutionary terrorists live freely in Miami.
Many participants were eager to sign the petition for the release of the Five, which will be delivered to the White House on the upcoming tenth anniversary of their arrest. Statements from Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier were read to the crowd.
The protestors at the DNC reaffirmed that there is a movement resisting the system that terrorizes and imprisons immigrant workers, that murders millions through bombings and sanctions for the profit of a few, and tries to smash political dissidence through violence, repression, and imprisonment. The struggle will continue until the walls of the Pentagon and the prisons are torn down.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]