We recognize that protests at the RNC will take many forms. With that in mind, we have worked for common ground with other forces to ensure that our various projects work in concert, with a commitment to ensure no one's plans are disrupted or undermined by fellow protesters. Our coalition agrees to the following principles for the September 1, 2008, March on the RNC.
(1) our solidarity will be based on respect for diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.
(2) the actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.
(3) any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
(4) we oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
These principles were set forth by the Coalition to March on the RNC
and Stop the War
As Hurricane Gustov draws closer to the US gulf region, Bush and Cheney the night before have called off RNC appearances. Although Laura Bush and Cindy McCain step in, the hurricane is used as an excuse that allows McCain to have more distance between himself and the unpopular ruling administration. The RNC will continue but on a smaller scale for its opening day.
Still, the planned marches against it will go on.
The overall numbers of the march were much smaller than the projected 50-60 thousand. In the end, estimates are closer to 10 thousand.
Every Left group is there, but their contingents are small. It is a question of if this is the case because the RNC is in St. Paul, MN rather than if it had been an any other anti-war march in DC, where historically the numbers have been much higher. Perhaps the East Coast can draw out larger numbers because of the concentration of the populace in the region.
It is also a question of if war weariness and that the Left/liberal forces stayed away hoping that the Democrats will end the war if they are seated as the ruling party in November. Obama has come to the position he is in a nominee in large part because of a false illusion that he is the "anti-war" candidate. All evidence has determined that he will continue to prosecute wars abroad, expanding the front in Afghanistan and a new one into Pakistan.
The Anti-Capitalist Block has one of the largest contingents and continued to grow as the march goes forward. The ACB is not that different from previous anarchist/anti-authoritarian contingents. But what is positive is that its organizers and the bulk of its participants thought strategically about 1) raising the political profile of revolutionary libertarian politics 2)not wanting to recreate de-politicized caricatures of "anarchism" 3) attempted to make this public presence a space open to those not capable for various reasons to engage in more direct action, ie. families with children, those who are physically challenged, working people under attack.
The ACB also, never acted to counter the more direct action organizing. But the purpose of the ACB was not to engage in such actions either. Its presence was a political one and never sought to become a support mechanism for pure physical confrontation. It was only one part of the broader goal of creating a conscious social revolutionary movement against the Systems of capitalism and the State.
The legal and permitted march lasted for several hours often going at a snails pace. thousands of police on bikes, in riot gear, on horse back, and on various vehicles lined the streets or massed at intersections.
At one point a group of White male student types emerged with pro-Sadrist banners. ACB members argued that Sadr does not represent an anti-imperialism or a liberation movement. While Sadr represents an anti-US politic, the Sadr movement is reactionary in its professed political vision and if given the ability on a mass scale would seek to eliminate opposition and dissent just as it has in areas it currently controls in Iraq. In Basra, Sadrist militia have attacked mixed gender student groups, beaten opposition members, and outlawed behavior that does not conform to their (Sadrist) dictates. The American Sadrists state that the ACB participants are racists, just like the working class in this country. Like many authoritarian Left sects, this odd pro-Sadr contingent thinks that an "anti-US" position somehow opens up space for positive social organizing to emerge. But just like their authoriatarin Left sect counterparts, these pro-Sadrists represent attempts to limit free movements.
As the march winds down the protesters disperse. Street fighting soon emerges in various parts of St. Paul.
Through out the day reports come in that delegates buses have been disabled or rerouted.
Mass arrests take place. But there are also several daring un-arrests as protesters snatch back those who are grabbed by cops. One night time news report show a cop dragging a protester off the street when another protester does a flying leap into the cop, knocking him down, and freeing the guy who would have been arrested. Nice video!