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by Maoist Internationalist Movement Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2003 at 12:19 AM

Report on the protests in L.A.


LOS ANGELES, Saturday, 22 Mar 2003--

Protestors have taken to the streets here every day since President Bush ordered the Amerikan military to expand its war on Iraq. On Thursday more than 3,000 protestors gathered in front of the Westwood Federal Building and shut down busy Wilshire boulevard for several hours. On Friday actions snarled traffic in several widely-spaced locales, including downtown and Westwood. Today around 10,000 people marched to the CNN building in Hollywood and then sat down in the world-famous intersection at Hollywood and Vine.

MIM finds the pace of events encouraging. As we wrote in January: "There are many movements that can sustain a one demonstration event, but sustaining energy over consecutive days is more difficult. If the situation with Iraq continues into the spring without decisive U.$. victory, we can predict that it should be a hot one politically based on the upswing in determination and numbers seen in the streets." There are more events planned here for tomorrow and another large rally scheduled next weekend.

MIM, RAIL and SLALA passed out over 1,100 copies of MIM Notes today and collected over 600 signatures on a petition opposing John Ashcroft's proposed Patriot Act II.

Organizers of today's march focused their ire on CNN as a propaganda tool for U.$. imperialism. They passed out signs saying, "CNN: War is not entertainment" and "CNN: Afraid to show us REAL reality TV?" MIM saw a hand-made sign with the slogan, "Embedding or in bed with?" This was a reference to the U.$. military's practice attaching journalists to military units in the field and regulating their communications equipment. The Pentagon warned journalists that unauthorized transmissions "are likely to be fired upon."(1)

A SLALA comrade rebuked a local TV news cameraman for showing up at the end of the rally to cover the arrests of protestors engaged in civil disobedience. Local coverage has typically focused on confrontations with police to the exclusion of the protestors' politics, while giving flag-waving soccer moms five minute segments to blather on about "my country, right or wrong." When asked what kept him from the bulk of the protest, the cameraman answered, "I had a little league game"--indicative of how serious mainstream Amerikan media takes its supposed role of keeping the public informed.

Other hand-made signs included explicit denunciations of Amerikan imperialism, which MIM liked. As usual there were also lots of signs and t-shirts attacking George Bush's arrogance and supposed stupidity, such as, "'Yee-hah' is not a foreign policy." MIM is less into the anti-Bush thing, except to the extent that Bush's bumbling thuggery exposes the systemic nature of Amerikan imperialism (see e.g. the article on the protests in Washington D.C. in this issue). To borrow Amerikan General Tommy Franks' phrase, this is not about one man, its about a corrupt and brutal system.

Many of the protestors knew of Patriot Act II, Attorney General John Ashcroft's proposal to close the "loop holes" in the original Patriot Act. Patriot Act II would remove judicial oversight of search warrants, allow secret evidence and secret trials, etc. etc.(2) One persyn who signed MIM's petition likened the new Patriot Act's provisions for stripping Amerikans of their citizenship to the Nazis' "Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race" of 1935. These laws proclaimed, "A citizen of the Reich may be only one who is of German or kindred blood, and who, ITAL through his behavior, shows that he is both desirous and personally fit END to serve loyally the German people and the Reich."(3) The "logic" of the Patriot Act II is that Amerikans who support certain types of lawful political organizing demonstrate by their actions that they have no desire to remain citizens.

Still, around half of the protestors approached with MIM's petition had not heard of Patriot Act II. MIM, RAIL, and SLALA handed out hundreds of flyers analyzing the proposal.

The mercenary hypocrisy award for the day goes to Amoeba records, across the street from CNN. Amoeba records sported a "Give Peace a Chance" banner while barring groups from setting up literature tables in front of the store. (CNN at least had the honesty to drape a huge Amerikan flag over its entrance.) MIM overheard a few choice quips from the store's staff. "Why do so many peace demonstrations turn violent?" "If they're going to demonstrate for peace they should be consistent: if you get hit in the face, turn the other cheek."

This is a misunderstanding promoted by sloppy bourgeois media reporting. Most of the anti-war protesters are not pacifists. For MIM's part, "turning the other cheek" is what the imperialists are telling the exploited to do. "Please ignore our rampage through your territory and work happily as slaves for our MNCs," they counsel. MIM upholds the right of the oppressed to armed struggle in self-defense against reactionary violence.


MIM Notes 279, 1 Apr 2003;
Italics added; www.mtsu.edu/~baustin/nurmlaw2.html;
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