Crashing the Conventions, Organizing in Michigan

Mediamouse.org is reprinting this article by ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) because it covers organizing taking place in Michigan against the upcoming political conventions in Denver and the Twin Cities.

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We’re reprinting this article from Critical Moment, an amazing newspaper out of southeast Michigan, because it was written by a local group about organizing that is happening Michigan.

“Over the past several months, groups in Michigan–most notably ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) and Unconventional Michigan–have been organizing to build support for large protests at this summer’s political conventions. The two major party conventions–the Democratic National Convention (DNC – Denver, CO 8/24 to 8/28) and the Republican National Convention (RNC – Twin Cities, MN 9/1 to 9/4)–have been the target of considerable organizing both where they are happening and across the country.

Plans are in place for large mobilizations against both conventions. In the Twin Cities, the RNC protests will likely be the largest direct action/civil disobedience protest in recent years. On the opening day of the convention, groups from across the country have committed to an effort aimed at shutting down the convention. Through a series of meetings held in the Twin Cities and across the country, groups have agreed to a strategy aimed at establishing blockades to prevent delegates from getting into the arena where the convention is going to be held. The strategy has been built on the input of several groups and has been informed by recent mobilizations in North America, making it one of the more solid plans put out in recent years. Beyond the effort to shut down the convention, there are also plans for a large march on the opening day as well as a “call to action” for groups to “adopt a delegate” from their home state as a target for subsequent days during the convention. To find out more about what is planned in the Twin Cities, visit noRNC.org.

In Denver, there are a series of themed days planned to protest the Democrats with the emphasis that in many ways, their politics have not been much better than the Republicans. There are days planned to highlight immigrant rights, global warming, and the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, the plans are not as developed as the plans are for the RNC, but there have been calls for direct action aimed at disrupting party fundraisers, there is a plan for a tent city, and there will be a series of concerts featuring prominent political bands like Rage against the Machine. To find out more about the DNC protests, visit Recreate68.org and DNCDisruption08.org.

ACTIVATE has endorsed the direct action strategies for both conventions and have attended various meetings planning for the conventions across the country. Our group has also been doing presentations explaining the plans for the protests. Within Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), ACTIVATE has circulated a call to action calling for participation in the direct action effort to shut down the RNC and has participated in organizing against the RNC within SDS. Most recently, ACTIVATE collaborated with Unconventional Michigan in hosting a meeting in Lansing for Michiganders who are planning to attend the protests.

We know that many people Michigan–perhaps the majority–will be unable to get to the conventions and understand that at first glance, organizing against the conventions may seem as if it moves us away from our local work. However, we believe that organizing against the conventions nicely compliments our work here in Michigan. By holding trainings on the various skills that people need to participate in the protests–street tactics, legal, etc–we can learn skills that have a usefulness far beyond the political conventions and that can plug into a variety of organizing efforts. In hosting presentations about the plans for crashing the conventions, we have initiated conversations reflecting on what has worked for the left both nationally and here in Michigan over the past several years. The protests against the conventions–as some of the largest direct action oriented mobilizations in recent years–will also give our movements a much needed infusion of energy and inspiration.

Perhaps most importantly, we believe that organizing against the conventions offers a way to critique the electoral process in this country. Either through direct experience with organizing against the Iraq War or through study of past social movements, we have seen that elections are a dead end route for movements seeking systemic change. Time and time again we have seen “the left”–and the countless others who do not identify as a part of the left–put their faith into electing the “right” politicians only to see those politicians stab them in the back and betray the movements and individuals that supported them. With so many people seeking “change” this year, we believe that radicals have a unique opportunity to raise important critiques about the failings of representative democracy and capitalism–and the protests against the political conventions offer one way to do that.

To learn more about protests planned against the upcoming conventions and organizing in Michigan, visit ACTIVATEGR.ORG and UAMICHIGAN.WORDPRESS.COM.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org