On Tuesday, Sept. 2, members of the Imperialism, Stand Together attended the “March for Our Lives” called by .and FIST–Fight
The militant march, which drew up to a thousand people demanding economic human rights, marched past a state prison and a homeless shelter before passing the State Capitol on its way to the Xcel Center, where the is being held.
For the entire route, we were surrounded by hundreds of cops on bikes, horses and “undercover” officers wearing the same khaki shorts.
Meanwhile, as we were marching, a free music festival attended by thousands of people was happening at the State Capitol. Word that Rage Against the Machine would perform had drawn many youth to the concert. According to witnesses, as Rage came to stage to perform, they were told if they played they would be charged with an “incitment to riot” felony. Then the sound, lights and all electricity was shut down.
Onstage with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Rage lead singer Zack de la Rocha grabbed a bullhorn, did a song and announced they were marching over to join Poor Peoples March.
The march swelled to thousands. We left the State Capitol and started on our way to the Xcel Center. About halfway there, the cops started raising tensions–one cop sprayed a whole section of protesters with pepper spray after he said an activist has marched “too close” to him.
We got to the Xcel Center, which was the ending point of the march. As we got ready to leave, we could see that we were being surrounded by cops, and as we made our way out of the area we could see that other intersections were being blocked by the cops as well–effectively penning in protesters.
All of a sudden, loud explosions could be heard–the sound of concussion grenades being fired into the penned-in crowds. Tear gas and pepper spray was used as well on the protesters.
We have heard reports that more arrests were made last night at the protests. As we were driving back to our housing in Minneapolis, we also saw that several cop cars had pulled over a minivan of protesters on the highway; and were searching the van while the activists were forced to sit on the ground on the highway.
TODAY, Sept. 3, we participated in a press conference to announce plans for a Day 4 protest, happening tomorrow when John McCain is expected to speak at the RNC and accept the presidential nomination. As usual, the corporate media tried to bait the leaders of the various anti-war and anti-poverty coalitions into denouncing the “violence” that direct action groups had supposedly committed. Not a single speaker fell for this derisive trick, redirecting the reporters to the massive violence being committed against poor people at home and abroad.
March organizer Jess Sundin explained how the police had given them a permit for the middle of the day tomorrow–when students and workers will be occupied with their jobs and classes, and before McCain is scheduled to speak. Sundin told the press that the group intends to excercise their right to dissent and march at 5 p.m., whether or not the police department corrects the permit.
To find out more about the Troops Out Now Coalition, go to www.TroopsOutNow.org
To donate to help pay for organizing expenses, go to http://troopsoutnow.org/donate.shtml
To sign the petition demanding an end to police brutality and illegal conduct in St. Paul, go to http://www.troopsoutnow.org/rnc08protestrights.shtml