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RNC: ‘A Theatrical Performance in an Intersection’

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, Republican National Convention, protest, activism, radical environmentalists, Earth First,

WTO protestThe folks organizing the Republican National Convention are touting it as “the greenest ever.” The radical environmental activists at Earth First are planning to show up for the event, but not to cheer on the recycling program or the use of flex-fuel and hybrid vehicles. They’re coming to “demonstrate alternatives to both lobbying and voting for environmental action,” according to the July-August issue of Earth First Journal (article not available online).

In other words, they’re going to block traffic.

“The most direct way to oppose this dog-and-pony show is just to stop it,” reads the article under the nom de plume of “the RNC Welcoming Committee.” “Stopping the convention won’t stop the election, but it throws a big fuckin’ wrench in the GOP’s public relations machine, and the GOP needs that machine to survive.”

The authors exhort eco-activists to set up blockades of all kinds. “Anything from a lockdown to a pile of materials, from a theatrical performance in an intersection to a good old-fashioned traffic jam will help create the desired effect,” they write. The ultimate goal? “Denying delegates access to the RNC.”

Their strategy is built around the mnemonic catch phrase “Swarm, Seize, Stay”: “Basically, 3S means: Move into/around downtown St. Paul via swarms of varying sizes….Seize space….Stay engaged with the situation.” The article notes that an “action camp” will be held in southern Minnesota the first weekend of August to prepare for the RNC.

Earth First’s call to arms is certainly part bluster. The authors admit that their movement “suffers from being small and stretched thin,” and their stated goal of stopping the convention is probably but an activist’s dream. But the fact is that Earth Firsters and others of their ilk would love to turn RNC 2008 into a street-protest legend like WTO 1999. The authors even name-check that event: “The World Trade Organization protest of 1999 was successful in no small part due to Earth First!ers bringing proven techniques and skills from the forests into the city.”

Because there’s nothing like burning a dumpster in the street to show that you love the planet.

Image by J. Narrin, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.