This summer, the Republican National Convention will descend on Minneapolis-St Paul to add to the pacifying spectacle that is the 2008 presidential election. The most direct way to oppose this dog-and-pony show is just to stop it. It’s worth recognizing that the RNC is a symbolic event — we all know who the nominee is, and the convention is just a chance for his party to gather and toast themselves at our expense. Stopping the convention won’t stop the election, but it will disrupt their spectacle and prove that we have the power to shape our own communities and future.
In this spirit anarchists and anti-authoritarians from all over the US gathered in Minnesota’s Twin Cities last fall to discuss the 2008 Republican National Convention and hashes out a framework for anarchist resistance. Through a process of consensus in the main strategizing session and the action breakout that followed, attendees developed a three-tiered strategy for denying delegates access to the RNC.
The tiers are organized in order of priority according to the number of participants; if a small number of participants show up, only the first tier will be carried out, but if the numbers are on hand, all three tiers will be in effect.
Tier One: Establish 15-20 blockades, utilizing a diversity of tactics, creating an inner and outer ring around St. Paul’s Excel Center, where the RNC is to take place.
Tier Two: Immobilize the delegates’ transportation infrastructure, including the busses that are to convey them.
Tier Three: Block the five western bridges connecting the Twin Cities.
Those plugging into this strategy will be free to shape their actions as they see fit, using the tactics they consider appropriate.
It’s the plan we have, it’s the plan we’ve been working on for months. One of our best assets in RNC preparation is time. Organizing started almost two years in advance of this convention, and that is a huge advantage.
In the months since the pReNC, the Welcoming Committee has been directing much energy towards disseminating information about this strategy and facilitating cooperative organizing for RNC resistance. There are many reasons why this three tiered plan, focused on blockading, makes sense
The geography of the 2008 RNC lends itself quite readily to a blockading strategy — unlike conventions of past years, this one is being held in a city without the capacity to sustain it alone. St. Paul is not big enough. Thus, convention-related events are happening all over the Twin Cities metro area, bringing Minneapolis into the fold. And between Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are still not enough hotel rooms to house the thousands of conventioneers who’ll be descending on our cities for four days. So, delegates, media, staff and extras will be housed throughout St. Paul, Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs, requiring that they all be transported to and from their hotels en masse (mostly on several hundred city buses contracted specifically for that purpose). Thanks to the mighty Mississippi, they’ll mostly have to be funneled across a small number of bridges, and thanks to the car culture we live in, they’ll only have a limited number of entrances to downtown St. Paul from which to choose. Few conventions have presented such clear transportation vulnerabilities, and we would be foolish to pass up the opportunities those vulnerabilities present. The 2008 RNC is begging to be blockaded.
Diversity Of Tactics, Diversity Of Participants
Calling for blockades sets a radical tone for the day without dictating the forms of resistance that people engage in. Anything from a lockdown, to a pile of gathered materials, to a yoga bloc in an intersection, to a good, old-fashioned traffic jam, helps create the desired effect, and the more diverse the actions, the less likely the cops will be prepared to deal with them all. Last summer’s G8 protest in Germany created a change in the landscape of our organizing. Dissent! and Block G8 were able to mobilize huge amounts of people because of the open and participatory manner in which it was organized. The blockading strategy provides ways for large numbers of people who would likely be excluded from other strategies to plug in, through large, effective, accessible actions that meet people closer to their comfort level and provide clear avenues of participation for folks who aren’t experienced or aren’t already a part of strong militant networks.
Simultaneously, there is ample room for small affinity groups with the capacity to plan and execute their own actions to do so. The pReNC framework creates a way for all of these actions to complement each other, resulting in an output greater than the sum of its parts.
Opening Up Space
Not everyone is into blockading, and that’s cool, but a lot of other tactics — the more mobile and offensive sorts, for example, are hard to do well in a space where large numbers of cops have easy access to any sites of potential interest and there’s little else going on to hold their attention. Successful execution of the blockading strategy, however, will actually create spaces more conducive to other tactics than we would otherwise see.
Little Engines Can
Any strategy we come up with and have the resources to execute is bound to have its weaknesses — we are, after all, human — but one major recurrent weakness that we have the opportunity to alleviate in this round is that created by a lack of internal cohesion. Obviously, as anarchists, it is not our intention or our desire to see the homogenization of our movement; we do believe that our strength rests quite heavily on the diversity of thought and tactics found on our side of the barricades. But our strength rests as heavily on a shared understanding that diverse tactics are most effective when they are implemented in a way that is complementary to each other.
In touring the country and discussing the strategy with anarchists all over, it’s become quite apparent to us that lots of people are pretty damn into it. They’re organizing, seriously and in big numbers, and willing to put in the requisite work to make this specific strategy successful. Given any two plans of equal strategic merit, the plan that incites broader enthusiasm, energy and support, is the plan more likely to succeed — and we believe the three-tiered strategy is such a plan.
“For more info on RNC resistance, see: www.NoRNC.org. If you have questions, comments, arguments, and/or want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in the streets!”