DNC Protest, Split, and the Principled Stand of Cynthia McKinney
By Steven Argue
Protest plans have been in the works against the Democratic National Convention (DNC) for some time now, with organizers opposing the Democrat Party’s policies of war and occupation, backing of continued corporate policies that cause global warming, and their attacks on immigrants.
The people who have been organizing the protest schedule formed a coalition called Recreate ‘68. A rightward split has occurred in this coalition, and another group has also been formed called the Alliance for Real Democracy. The Alliance for Real Democracy is organizing their own separate events, one of which is a reception for Democrat Party delegates complete with drinks and BBQ.
The Alliance for Real Democracy is made up of the Colorado Green Party, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Colorado Street Medics, and Students for Peace and Justice.
While the Alliance for Real Democracy consists largely of white liberals who are trying to influence the hopelessly corporate run Democrat Party, Recreate ‘68 is made up primarily of minorities, socialists, anarchists, communists, and other radicals who have fewer illusions in reforming the Democrat Party and who instead want to organize the power of the people.
Glen Spagnuelo, spokesperson of Recreate ‘68, says he’s not bothered by the formation of the Alliance for Real Democracy, because both groups oppose the war in Iraq and neither is advocating a violent protest.
Yet, the Alliance for Real Democracy has gotten extensive coverage in the corporate media of Colorado for their violence baiting of Recreate ‘68. The stand of Recreate ‘68 is, however, one where they simply explain that they are not planning violence, but if the police attack them, they do not disavow the right of protesters to self-defense.
As Benjamin Whitmer of Denver explained in the letters column of the Rocky Mountain Times in a June 5, 2008 letter entitled, “Re-create 68 members aren't violent extremists”:
“I’m a little confused as to the media’s portrayal of Glenn Spagnuolo and the members of Re-create 68 as violent extremists. Though Mr. Spagnuolo is getting painted as Vlad the Impaler with a bag full of severed heads, I’ve yet to hear of him engaging in a single act of violent protest. Moreover, I’ve attended several Re-create 68 meetings – meetings which, it’s worth noting, are never without a media presence – and have yet to hear a single suggestion of violent protest from him or from anyone else attending.
“The controversy seems to stem from Re-create 68’s refusal to disallow the right to self-defense to its members. Re-create 68’s explanation of this refusal is clear. There will be people protesting with Re-create 68 arm-in-arm with their children and elders. In large part, these will be representatives of communities which have most suffered from the never-ending betrayal of the Democrats. To attempt to deny them the right to defend themselves is to deny a fundamental human right.”
Yet, the Alliance for Real Democracy is demanding everyone roll over and die when and if they are violently attacked by the police, and painting those who do not have such a commitment as “violent”. The coverage their denunciations have received in the corporate media play into the hands of government attempts to deny permits, and, ultimately plays into the hands of police violence if the government does decide to physically attack these protests. In fact, the Alliance for Real Democracy’s denunciations of the right to self-defense and denunciations of Recreate ‘68 as “violent” creates a ready made excuse for the police and government that may actually cause police violence.
In addition, the Green Party of Colorado has issued false statements to the press and all over the internet claiming that Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will not be participating in the Recreate ’68 events. Here is one such statement from Dave Chandler, co-chair of the Colorado Green Party, Green Party candidate for U.S. Congress in the Seventh Congressional District, and supporter of a Denver ballot measure that would seize the vehicles of illegal immigrants:
“Cynthia McKinney, Green Party candidate for President, and Rosa Clemente, Green Party candidate for Vice President are NOT participating in any Recreate ‘68 activities. Both candidates, and the Green Party of Colorado, are refuting this announcement and are stating that neither candidate, nor the Green Party of Colorado, are in any way associated with Recreate ’68, nor will any of their candidates be speaking at or attending any event, nor are they in any way associated with the group Recreate ’68.”
This is a blatant lie. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente will be speaking at the Recreate ’68 events.
Liberation News does not endorse the Cynthia McKinney campaign, partly because she is running on the Green Party ticket, a capitalist party. Yet, she has the right positions on many issues, and does show what a candidate who is not beholden to corporate interests can speak out on, such as for single payer healthcare, immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and for freeing political prisoners in the U.S. like Mumia Abu-Jamal.
It is for these reasons, and the good principled stand that McKinney is taking on the protests at the Democrat National Committee, standing up to the leadership of the Green Party of Colorado, that Liberation News prints Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente’s statement on the DNC in full:
Open Letter from Cynthia McKinney
As the United States activated Navy ships and the Air Force to begin an airlift of non-specified goods into the former Soviet state of Georgia, and military exercises began in the Persian Gulf near Iran, I received communications from certain individuals among the Colorado Greens who were organizing campaign support events there, suggesting that I not participate in an anti-war program being organized by other individuals in Colorado.
Perplexed, I began to do my research to understand the nature of the fissure that I seemed to be placing myself in the middle of. The communications to me about not participating in one of the scheduled events became more and more shrill. The events ran through August 26th. When the lineup of speakers, including Rosa and me, was announced for the events in question, I received multiple communications stating in various ways that the sender from the Green Party of Colorado, was on the verge of desperation over the latter.
Within a few hours, I was reading messages stating that the Green Party of Colorado would be ruined if I participated in the End the Occupations/End the War march and rally slated to take place on the morning of August 24th on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, or if Rosa participated in a Freedom March and Rally for Human Rights and Political Prisoners at Civic Center Park the following day.
An article appeared in a local Colorado newspaper stating that Rosa and I would not appear at the events for which we had been scheduled. Rosa responded to our Colorado Green Party contact that yes, indeed, we were appearing at the two events. Both Rosa and I then received messages demanding to know by a time certain what our plans were, and asserting that the Green Party of Colorado would be totally ruined if we associated with the group sponsoring the events. In addition, we were told that at least one resignation and sustaining membership would be tendered to the Party, and that Rosa and I could expect no support on the ground in Denver from the Green Party of Colorado, including a planned fundraiser and a place to stay.
Without receiving any additional response or information from either Rosa or I, the correspondent sent a message informing us that all Green Party of Colorado events previously scheduled for us had been canceled. Further, the message stated that ballot access petitioning by Green Party of Colorado would cease in neighboring Wyoming and that all efforts would be made to remove Rosa's and my names from the ballot in Colorado. The message also noted that the Colorado delegation overwhelmingly supported Elaine Brown at the Green Party Convention.
With the e-mail messages flying "fast and furious," I hope I have mentioned the highlights of this episode in somewhat chronological order. What Rosa and I would like to address now, is the ideological and rational order that produced this outcome. At the very first Green Party debate held in San Francisco earlier this year, I pleaded for unity of action and purpose as we face the challenges that confront us as a country. Rosa and I are proud to join with others who are sick and tired of war, occupation, human rights abuses, and the continued incarceration of our political prisoners. We are proud to join with others who are willing to do something about it. In the context of activities in Denver, that means cooperating with some organizations new to us and others with which Rosa and I have had a long-standing relationship. Let me explain some of those relationships.
I am proud to have received a Backbone Award from the Backbone Campaign, one of the co-participants of the anti-war, anti-occupation events in question, according to the organizers.
Rosa and I are pleased to have received the endorsement of M-1 of Dead Prez, who put out a video of endorsement and is rallying other conscious Hip Hop, Generation X voters to the Green Party with Rosa and I as its nominees. Rebel Diaz was on the stage with Rosa as she accepted her Green Party nomination for Vice President. Both Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz are participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.
Fred Hampton, Jr.'s mother, a victim of COINTELPRO, came to Georgia in the mid-1990s to help me gain reelection after a malicious redistricting case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ward Churchill has traveled to my Congressional district to educate my former constituents on the COINTELPRO of yesterday and the COINTELPRO of today. Natsu Saito introduced me to other victims of COINTELPRO. I asked Kathleen Cleaver to co-author a report that was submitted to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of the World Conference Against Racism, on the unsolved murders of Black Panther Party members who were victims of COINTELPRO. Fred Hampton, Jr., Ward Churchill, Natsu Saito, and Kathleen Cleaver are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.
As a Member of Congress, I supported the release of all political prisoners and welcomed information from the American Indian Movement about Leonard Peltier. I have at many times in my political career been allied with the ACLU, and have always supported Pam and Ramona Africa and the MOVE Organization. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, King Downing of the ACLU, and Pam and Ramona Africa of MOVE are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.
Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed the Power to the People Campaign and my Green Party candidacy. According to the organizers, Mumia will transmit a message to all of us participating in the events in question.
Finally, I have appeared on various stages with many Palestinians; I have proudly spoken at rallies organized by Larry Holmes. Debra Sweet with World Can't Wait was among the very first to my knowledge to organize around impeachment as an imperative and I support hers and all other impeachment groups in their efforts. And finally, I have known Ben Manski for a long time as a socially conscious activist who is also a member of the Green Party. According to the organizers, a Palestinian refugee is slated to speak at the events in question, as well as Larry Holmes, Debra Sweet, and Ben Manski.
Rosa and I have not been given any rational, ideological, or strategically-acceptable reason by the Green Party of Colorado to dissociate ourselves from the movement that this country so desperately needs and that these individuals and organizations participating represent, as we all attempt to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its complicity in all of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Therefore Rosa and I will keep our appointments in Denver and we hope that the members of the Green Party of Colorado will attend our sessions and listen to what we have to say. I have faith that by taking principled stands against war and occupation, human rights abuse, the prison-industrial complex, and in support of freedom for political prisoners, the Green party will emerge stronger.
Green Party Nominee for President of the United States
Green Party Nominee for Vice President of the United States
Liberation News endorses and encourages people to attend:
Recreate ‘68 Protest: Speakers and Free Concerts Schedule http://recreate68.com/?p=135
Alliance for Real Democracy: drinks and BBQ for Democrat Party delegates and their other scheduled events: http://slapstickpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/07/alliance-for-real-democracy-dnc.html
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