Taking Stock: What the Philadelphia Convention Protests Accomplished

Taking Stock: What the Philadelphia Convention Protests
Accomplished

‘The police stole our message,’ says radical historian L.A.
Kauffman, reporting from last week’s protests at the Republican
National Convention in Philadelphia, in her weekly web-column
Free Radical.

She means that literally. The Philadelphia police were so
well-organized in their response to protesters — confiscating
cell-phones, banners and street-puppets, and making early targetted
arrests of key organizers — the activists were reduced to a
riotous mass, unable to effectively communicate their message to
the media. So, rather than convey the protesters’ message of social
and economic justice, reporters focused on sensational images of
arrests and clashes with police.

But despite all that, says Kauffman, protesters made huge strides
in building a stronger, more broad-based national movement,
bridging an internal racial rift-between predominantly black and
latino social justice activists and mostly white environmental and
anti-globalism activists-that has long hampered their
effectiveness.

‘The lasting significance of the Philly action won’t be its effect
on public opinion,’ she says. ‘It will be how and by whom it was
organized. . . . The major players in Philly were a good deal
younger and far more racially diverse than the organizers of
Seattle or D.C. Activists of color were key in initiating the
mobilization and played central planning roles throughout the
months of organizing.’

Kauffman is excited by what she sees: ‘In 20 years of activism I’ve
never seen a comparable effort: a decentralized direct action based
on affinity groups and consensus decision-making process, that was
substantially shaped by people of color.’ — Leif UtneGo there>>

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