It has been quite a week here in Los Angeles; a week that has seen riot police in the streets beat demonstrators, trample them with horses. Police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds. And it’s not just demonstrators that have been targets. Journalists, legal observers and ordinary people have been pelted with rubber bullets or clubbed with batons. It has also been a week that has seen an enormous amount of corporate influence and money flowing through hotel suites and the convention itself. But this contrast between the protests rallies and marches in the streets and a gathering of officialdom is no new phenomenon. The past year has truly been a year of resistance. From the thousands that took to the streets to shut down the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle to the mass protests at the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington DC. More recently, the Republican Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic Convention here in Los Angeles. In a little more than a month, there will be large demonstrations at the IMF/World Bank meetings in Prague in the Czech Republic.
As for the movement here in this country, when the corporate media cover it, they often refer to the masses of people in the streets simply as “the protesters”. They also like to use the term “anarchists”. The movement is rarely reported as a pro-democracy movement or resistance movement or anti-government movement as it would be if it was happening in some far off country.
Some have painted this as a reminiscence of the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. But this is a movement that can and will stand on its own in the history books. In fact, it is one of the strongest movements in modern US history. And it has a vast array of issues. From globalization to police brutality; from the environment to the prison industrial complex; from anti-war and anti-nuclear struggles to the struggle for immigrant rights. With this diversity, the media has a difficult time pinpointing leaders because it is largely decentralized. The media sees this as its weakness; the movement sees it as its strength. As one activist put it earlier this week, this is a leaderless movement with strong leadership.
Well, today we are going to do something a little different on the program. We are going to have a Town Hall Meeting of sorts to discuss the question “The Resistance: Where Do We Go From Here?” Joining us to do that are a number of people. We are also having this discussion with a hall full of people here at Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles.
- Michael Franti, MC of the hip-hop group Spearhead.
- Medea Benjamin, Green Party candidate for Senate in California. She is also the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange.
- John Sellers, Director of the Ruckus Society. He was recently released from prison in Philadelphia where he was arrested during the Republican National Convention. Sellers was originally held on $1 million bail. It was later reduced to $100,000.
- Jello Biafra, founder of the punk band “The Dead Kennedys.”
- Tim Ream, founder of Pick Axe Productions.
- Dwayne Holmes, is the organizer of the 1992 gang truce in LA. He was one of the leaders of the street gang the Crips.
- Fidel Rodriguez, an organizer with Communities for a Better Environment. He teaches at the largest incarceration camp in the country. He is from the Chumash tribe.
- Maria Elena Durazo, President of Local 11 of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers.