Latin American Solidarity Coalition
Washington DC protests
April 10-14, 2003
report by Ed, Rose, and Michelle
Fort Collins Action Collective (FCAC) including the Prominent Nipples left the choice city last Thursday evening (4.10) embarking on an anti-imperialist journey to our beloved nation’s capital. The home of gothic concrete slabs of empire and domination representing the state’s formal institutions, buried within the doctrines and bureaucrats weaving the processes of social informal institutions, while other global elites meet near by, defining the global neo-liberal political spectrum.
Mucho gracias for the VAN PACKET team for an excellent informative tool that was used regularly!!!!
Saturday(4.12): Latin American Solidarity Conference (broke at noon for anti-war rally)
The conference was broken into small discussion lectures & workshops ranging from “Globalization & Miniaturization of Latin America” to “History of Indigenous rights & struggle” to an informative and interesting workshop on the concept of asylums/sanctuaries, A campaign to provide a safe haven for Columbia human rights activist whose lives are in danger from an extremely corrupt gov’t and solid para-military presence. Two sessions in the morning one began at 9:30, the second at 11:00. Our friend Guadalupe Sequeira was there as well. We all broke for the rally, which cut the day in half. An El Salvadorian dinner served at 4:00, the final workshop session, then 4-5 night lecturers who we hardly saw due to exhaustion from a busy day and long car ride.
Saturday: Peace/Anti-war march called by A.N.S.W.E.R. 1-4pm
Numbers unsure, but when the procession past me I counted 27 ¾ people in a row, 2 seconds to pass me, apx 50,000 seconds elapsed, plus others straggling behind, my estimates concluded to about 17,666,740,607 people in the march, mas o menos
Diverse mix of demonstrators, sat and listened to speakers on Pennsylvania & 16th, there was a fountain pool, that contained demonstrators dancing, singing, playing drums chanting peace slogans while splashing in the fountain, straight out of Woodstock’s heydays. After the march began police in the ‘front lines’ beat several demonstrators, others can elaborate on details, but I saw a couple demonstrators with ice bags on their faces. While walking on the sidewalks, I was told by several cops to ‘get in the streets’, ??, so that the motor cops and bike cops could race through. The march ended with little arrests J, and little or no property damage L, just kidding.
What happened with the ACC: There was a plan to meet and march with out a permit before the ANSWER rally. There were only about 100 people there and no one wanted to get arrested before Sunday. So in a spokes council, at which FCAC had a spoke, it was decided that we would stick to the sidewalks and meet again later. As we all walked along the sidewalk turned to street and there was a spontaneous, un-permitted march. We marched almost entirely to the rally in the streets- no arrests. The block marched together in the ANSWER march and was one of the main targets for the random beatings. The cops on bikes seemed to have themselves more worked up then the protestors were intimidated by them. The response of the crowd to the police brutality was amazing. People stayed very clam for the most part, were helping those in trouble, and yelling shame at the police. The ANSWER car with loud speakers was trying to identify and help those beaten and was also leading chants like “Back off cops”.
To begin our beautiful Sunday morning, a few of us decided to go to the anti-corporate media action. On our way, we ran into a group of guys dressed in black who decided to join us. It turns out that the ABC station was not having any guests arrive that morning, so the ten of us were the only people there. We started doing some chalking on the sidewalk and ABC called the police. The ten of us chalking managed to attract probably 40 cops. They told us that we weren’t allowed to block the door and then they hung around us for a while before deciding to go wait for us around the corner.
Fortunately, the action at CBS was more eventful. Donald Rumsfeld was in the office and denied the request to answer a few questions. He snuck out the back door. Probably 25 people were chanting and yelling as his car went by. There were a lot of news stations there and some people expressed what they were concerned about. There were some rumors that a news anchor might have been coming out to speak, but we left in order to make it to the LASC march.
All gathered in Malcolm X Park also known as Meridian Park. A colorful crowd representing people of many ethnic backgrounds and of Latin American national visitors, kids & babies, a code pink crew with pink umbrella’s, anarchists, socialists, reformists, NGO reps, migrant workers, one cloaked in a black face mask representing the indigenous people of southern Chiapas, speakers from Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, & Native Americans. Most of the speeches conducted in both English & Espanol. As a half dozen or so spoke inter mixed with songs and chants, demonstrators sat, or milled around interviewing, working on our media skills. A smaller crowd than on Saturday, but more intimate and focused on the issues at hand. We were able to meet many of those who post on LASC listserves, as well as Witness for Peace organizers, WB Boycott organizers, ACERCA organizers, SOA watch organizers CISPES orgs. etc. awesome networking opportunity, made many solid bonds.
March began, all following a pick-up truck, with a PA speaker system strapped to the back. A ‘black bloc’ followed up on the rear, “1...2…3…4 we don’t want your fucking war, 5..6..7..8 organize & smash the state!” & “What’s the reaction? Direct Action, Whats the solution? People’s revolution”, could be heard many rows from the bloc, while code pink chanted a deep soulful “All you people gonna rise up, have your say I say and rise up this day ” melody, while other young feministas rapped a prepped
we are the bridges brigade
we mamas don’t get paid
gonna rob and take it back
basic freedoms that we lack
So whose the real thief?
the IMF or you and me?
been robbin from the poor
not gonna take it anymore
so shake your booty for a revolution
take to the streets
that’s our solution
Many colorful people banners and a variety of old & new chants J.
First stop Taco Hell: All stopped to throw shame on the bell of hell.
A couple of beat-boxers hopped on the PA system on the pick-up, and threw down some lyrics, directing our energy to the clear glass windowed store front guarded by dozens of bike cops.
“We gonna boycott Taco Bell, We gonna boycott Taco Bell”
“Yo no quiero Ta….co Bell, Yo no quiero Ta…..co Bell”, a deep chant pitched in a low voice vibrating through the PA system pouring into the streets.
Next stop: Inter-American Development Bank (IMF’s bastard child that moved south)
“ IDP, stop the PPP” (Plan Puebla Panama)
“ El Pueblo Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido” (people united can not be defeated)
Next Stop: Occidental Petroleum: Not given a permit to march to building front, cheeky oil pissers, so we stopped at US Chamber of Commerce & US Trade Representatives.
Next Stop: Mcpherson Square Park to listen to more hip/hop, a Native American duo, acting out a skit telling their forlorn oppressors to ‘shove it, shove it, shove it!’
Next Stop: IMF/WM bi-annual meetings. By this time the crowd dwindled to half its original size, the ‘black bloc’ stayed in the streets to regroup. This was the most uneventful part in my opinion, no action, just shame on you chants in the park directly across from the meetings while waiting for delegated to walk out. Walked over to the bloc, no action here either, just some ‘kick the can’ and the usual chants.
At the end of the day, the bloc took over a street and were having a little bit of confrontation with the cops, but it didn’t seem like anything was too steamy. After staying in the street for probably an hour, they took down the banners. When we left the intersection was still blocked off by police, but there were only a few individuals left hanging around in the street.
Jen Knight and I walked over to the LASC strategy evaluation meeting after the march. Its was cool meeting the people who post notes and news on the many list serve’s. The meeting started with evaluations of the conference, then turned into a debate on process and consideration with ANSWER calling an anti-war march two weeks before a conference that was planned for over a year. Apparently there were spokes from both steering committees in the room. This discourse was quite interesting because some groups run on consensus, others ‘majority rules’, where the facilitator did not understand the consensus process. This made the discussion move extremely slowly and alienated those who were not part of the discourse.
“Close down the SOA, we don’t need you anyway
People of the North & South, say….
Close down the SOA, we don’t need you anyway
People of the north & South say…”
“They say free trade we say NO Way!”
“Shut then Down, Get up & do it NOW!”
FCAC car ride chants:
“Go Bananas, go go bananas
Go bananas go go bananas”
“Smash imperialism smash smash imperialism
Smash imperialism smash smash imperialism”
“Latin America, IMF & US
It was a valuable networking opportunity; we all had a lot of fun, felt very empowered, and learned a great deal along the way. Hasta –Ed, Rose, Michelle