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Fwd:PhillyIMC what about the non activists?

by Rosalie Sunday, Aug. 06, 2000 at 2:14 AM

Excerpt "Without hesitation, he said that he did not feel that demonstrations accomplish anything and that politicians, who make the decisions, respond to whoever gives them the most money. He further contended that the demonstrators had no business blocking traffic, that if they wanted to demonstrate, they should do it in a place where the demonstration would not disrupt peoples’ lives. "

Friday August 04, @11:03PM



what about the non activists?

By Rosalie





hiladelphia, Pennsylvania, Afternoon of August 1st On a city bus in Philadelphia, on my way back to the Independent Media Center, I, together with five other riders, was caught in a traffic jam in the City Hall area where an R2K demonstration was occurring. Despite the fact that I was in a hurry to get back to the Media Center, I decided not to get off the bus, but rather to engage the bus driver and the other passengers in a conversation relating to the protest.

Wanting to be overheard by the other passengers, I asked the bus driver, “What do you think about what’s going on out there?” Without hesitation, he said that he did not feel that demonstrations accomplish anything and that politicians, who make the decisions, respond to whoever gives them the most money. He further contended that the demonstrators had no business blocking traffic, that if they wanted to demonstrate, they should do it in a place where the demonstration would not disrupt peoples’ lives. He also expressed displeasure with the police, who he felt were too easy on the demonstrators.

The three riders, who got involved in the conversation were also annoyed with the demonstrators, mostly because of the traffic jam, which they blamed on the protest. One rider said that the delay made her less sympathetic to the issues raised by the protest and another rider stated that he would have to pay an extra .00 to the baby sitter because of the delay.

Subsequently, after having spoken with some other Philadelphians, as well as with Independent Media Center and R2K participants about their own encounters, I’ve concluded that the negative sentiment toward the demonstrators and demonstrations is widespread and not simply held by an isolated few. With the commercial media supporting, if not playing a major role in helping to generate these attitudes, it is no surprise that so many people have adopted this posture.

In responding to “those who protest the protesters,” I suggest that the Direct Action Network prepare a statement that could be included in an issue of the Unconvention and also be encompassed in a letter to the editor, an Op Ed piece, and/or a community directed leaflet. The statement could also be read/discussed at a press conference and generally used in organizing in the communities before/during the various events. The important thing is that these attitudes not be ignored.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Evening of August 3rd I just had a conversation with a woman in the ladies’ room at the William Way Center. Unlike the riders on the bus, she was quite sympathetic to the demonstrators but, at the same time, did not know what action to take in responding to the unjust arrests etc. She did not know about the Direct Action Network, the Independent Media Center or Indymedia etc. She was an example of someone who did not need to be convinced of the importance and function of demonstrations, but rather wanted information about how to react and generally get involved.

Although we are about to close up shop in Philadelphia, we still have time to begin to think about how to relate to communities of the Los Angeles.

Be strong and pay close attention, Rosalie

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