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(en) US, New-York City, Media, Protesters Squabble

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 3 Aug 2004 07:06:51 +0200 (CEST)


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Bickering between the city and protesters over rally points
and metal pens has dominated the discussion of the coming
wave of anti-Republican National Convention protests, but
other protests are planned that are well beyond the reach of
permits, designated routes, schedules and spokesmen.
A group of anarchists working as a loose collective has been
organizing a freewheeling day of civil disobedience and guerrilla
street tactics to disrupt the convention. The anarchists said they
need to use direct action -- not staid, staged protests -- to spread
their message that government is bad because people know what is better for them then anyone else.

"It's more immediate, it's more visceral, it has a direct
impact on the people," said Jaime Moran, 30, an anarchist
active with the organization http://RNCnotwelcome.org .

Anarchists embrace direct action -- protests intended to
disrupt authority -- as opposed to traditional forms of
political activity like petitions and voting. For them,
going to a march sanctioned by police would be the
equivalent of voting for John Kerry -- not good enough.

"I think that for an awful lot of people who are angry about
what's going on, there's something very disempowering about
going to a big march," said Eric Laursen, 44. "Picking up a
sign, marching down a city street surrounded by a phalanx of
cops, sitting in a cage where you're not allowed to interact
with people in the streets, and then going to a rally in
some far flung corner like the West Side Highway -- it makes
you feel like you have no impact."

United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of anti-war
groups, recently agreed to Police Department terms for their
massive rally after extended and often contentious negotiations.

Asked how they plan to combat unplanned disruptions, police
officials would say only that they will enforce the law at
the convention.

Anarchists from 20 states have met in apartments, coffee
shops, Internet cafes, an art loft in Brooklyn and at St.
Mark's Church in the East Village. Some anarchists have
speculated that the 2004 Republican National Convention has
inspired the largest meeting of modern anarchists in one place.

"It's like a conference for us," Flanigan said. "It has
given us all a chance to exchange ideas, talk about tactics."

The anarchists say they want to capitalize on the visibility
of the convention to articulate their political principles,
which they feel is often obscured by unfair caricatures.

"The word has a black eye," said Moran, a soft-spoken web
designer. "In popular culture, it's represented as mischief
and mayhem and blowing things up."

What they're actually planning are a wide range of protests,
from street carnivals to sit-ins and barricades of RNC
sponsors and companies tied to war. A group called the A31
Coalition is billing Aug. 31 as a day dedicated to direct
action.

The events range from the whimsical, dressing up in
stereotypical stuffy outfits of khakis and button-down
shirts and taking to the streets, to the serious, attempting
to blockade Madison Square Garden and prevent Republican
delegates from entering the convention and siphoning off the
massive anti-RNC march and flooding in to Central Park.

"This is one mobilization where we could draw people who
aren't activists but are really angry about what's going on
and get them out in the streets," Moran said.

An anarchist group's pamphlet promises that anarchists will,
"occupy the areas around buildings of war profiteers and the
corporations that have hijacked our air, water, land,
pensions and voice."

"You have to put your body on the machinery," said Laursen,
who joined other students who took over a Columbia campus
building during Apartheid protests in the 1980s. "You have
to go there yourself and say you are going to stop this from
going on. This opens up a whole new agenda of things."

The philosophy of anarchy is tightly wed to direct action as
a means of political expression. Anarchy is a philosophy
deeply rooted in a political tradition dating to the ancient
Greeks. The word itself is from Greek, meaning "lack of a
ruler."

"What I hope happens," Laursen said, "is that, decades from
now, people will look back and say this is where protest
politics really turned into a movement to create a really
different type of society."


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