One critical issue remains to be resolved before activists move out onto the streets of downtown Los Angeles for the DNC, and that is the apparent blackout of coverage by the national news media. Contrast the peri-RNC protests in Philadelphia with those surrounding the DNC in Chicago in 1968. In Chicago '68, the chaos stole the spotlight from the convention as the whole world watched. CBS and NBC documented the police brutality and overkill on prime time newscasts as Daley's thugs in blue turned that week into a tabloid exemplar of the dangers of a police state. Living rooms from coast to coast were bombarded nightly with lurid images of white suburban kids being beaten by shock troops in paramilitary gear, bringing compelling graphic evidence of America's level of social unrest and national disunity home to Middle America.
Fast forward 32 years to RNC 2000. The corporate media, especially television (where the majority of Americans go for news), totally ignores the protests in the streets and their violent aftermath in the Philadelphia jails, except for an occasional sound bite dismissing the protesters as "anarchists" and congratulating John Timoney for his fearlessness in spraying gas and kicking ass. Unless one picks up the Village Voice or other alternative media that Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia don't bother to read, one would barely know there were any protests at all.
Protests and demonstrations cannot change public policy. Their function is to turn the spotlight of public opinion on the abuse of power. If the national news media ignores the civil disobedience in Los Angeles as it did in Philadelphia, then all we will accomplish is to send a lot of devoted, good-hearted young adults home with black eyes, cracked skulls and red welts on their bodies, and we won't have accomplished a thing, and that is immoral.
The police don't care about our issues. The convention delegates and candidates clearly don't care about our issues. How can the activism community make the national media sit up and take notice in Los Angeles? How can we break through this corporate news blackout? We cannot in good conscience go out onto the streets of Los Angeles until we know how we are going to solve that problem.