I write on the finale of the Republican National Convention, sitting in a house not my own, not more than 15 miles from police repression and violence. I sit pondering my role in all of this, in the world I want to create, and I’m not sure what that is.
I decided to go to the RNC earlier this year in hopes of participating in the largest gathering since the WTO in 1999. I used my “Economic Stimulus Package” to fly out here. As months went by I participated in meetings and invited the Welcoming Committee to The Long Haul. This would be my first large protest, as the ones I had been to before were anti-war types in San Francisco and local issue things. I over-prepared with goggles, respirators, gloves and other items that seem silly now. Two days before I was supposed to leave, the Long Haul Infoshop was raided, which put me in a state of paranoia and worry.
Once in the Twin Cities the theme of raids followed with the convergence space being raided on Friday and houses of the 8 main organizers over the weekend, resulting in their arrests. Later we learned that they were being watched the whole time by the police, every word they said taken seriously. Monday morning held promises of the convention being crashed by Hurricane Gustav — we finally had Mother Nature on our side!
The first day held elaborate plans, most of which failed. Those were foiled by the police joined the march down town with “funk the war” which was half dance party, half riot. We breathed tear gas, dragged stuff into the street and enjoyed the fear of the crowd. I dressed extremely conservatively, in polo shirt and khakis, which was the smartest thing I had ever done. As a group of black bloc around me were all thrown to the ground I was invisible to the police. The would not look at me because I was not a perceived trouble maker. I witnessed a woman — a medic — thrown to the ground, and this changed things for me.
This event started a personal dialog that lasted for 3 days. The actions of the protesters created a spectacle, but barely reached media due to the impending hurricane and Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter. This begs the question, what does mobilizing at these events do? I left my community when it needed me the most to participate in this spectacle. I know not of one delegate bus that was permanently stopped that first day and that the delegate entrances were so relaxed, I walked right up to the gate and rubbed elbows with delegates, wearing an American flag hat, of course. If the Welcoming Committee’s task was to stop the convention, they failed. What the Welcoming Committee did do was revive the Anarchist movement and with this new energy, we must ask ourselves:
Should we spend energy attacking the structures of power, or should we build a world we want to live in and then fight to protect it?
It seems that the main focus of this mobilization was to attack the Republicans for all of their shit. This, however, resulted in building of infrastructure that needs to stay in place such as:
* A free Bike Shop
* Two free meals a day
* Housing for those who needed it, and
* A general location for radicals to meet and mingle
It makes me sad that some of these projects will disappear after the RNC is over. This shows we can all be united by a common enemy, but why must this be temporary? The common enemy is everywhere — all the time!
The Anarchist community is very good at organizing against things but not very good and organizing FOR things. I would like to see a national movement of people challenging the structures of power with their own projects and then fighting to protect them. The street fighting that goes on now is preemptive and always when the power expects it.
Tonight more people will go to jail, the police will torture them, and the RNC will go on as planned, nominating John McCain as their president. Most importantly, 8 people will have the hardest year of their lives for being idealistic and thinking they could change things. It will be a long trial with insane justifications.
Let’s come strong out of this one and remember we must have LOVE OVER FEAR!
Let’s bring back to our communities the passion from the RNC and build something more. The revolution is now and it’s not going to be in the streets: it’s going to be in our communities.