500,000 people protested the Republican National Convention — its wars abroad, assaults on the environment, and crackdowns on workers — in New York City in late August and early September. From the massive, mellow march the day before the convention to hundreds of confrontations in which small groups hassled delegates, to the 1,800 arrests, was the week of protests a success? The RNC underlined the limits of protest. Outside of New York, news about the protests was hard to find. Massive police presence in New York curtailed our ability to disrupt the delegates’ work.
Yet the protests made it much harder for Bush to use New York as a prop for his war on terrorism message. Things would have been worse if he had come to New York and no one had hit the streets. The protests showed that not all Americans are united around Bush and his agenda of fear and violence.
In deciding to hit the streets, you can never be sure that it will be “worth it” — that it will help promote change. But you can always be sure that if you decide not to hit the streets, you’ll loose a chance for progress. It’s up to the opponents of the system to make the effort to show up wherever those in power gather if there appears to be any chance it could make a difference.