[sixties-l] Fwd: The Protest Bush and the Cops Couldn't Stop

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Thu Jan 18 2001 - 15:56:22 EST

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    >By Gary Wilson
    >Chicago Mayor Richard Daley famously said of the police riot
    >that disrupted the Democratic Convention in 1968 that the
    >police are there "to preserve disorder."
    >Something similar might be said of police in Washington
    >preserving the disorder known as the unelected presidency of
    >George W. Bush.
    >The Washington police have conspired with the incoming Bush
    >administration to use all their powers to try to stop
    >demonstrators from voicing their opposition along the
    >inaugural parade route Jan. 20.
    >There is no doubt that tens of thousands will show up at the
    >inauguration parade to protest the incoming Bush
    >administration. They will come from Washington itself and
    >they will come from around the country on buses, trains,
    >planes and automobiles.
    >Jan. 20 will see the biggest counter-inaugural demonstration
    >since the second criminal administration of Richard Nixon
    >took office in 1973.
    >The overwhelming tide of demonstrators that is heading for
    >Washington forced the police to finally grant permits for
    >the mass protests.
    >For months the police had worked in secret with the Bush
    >inauguration committee to defy the law and not grant permits
    >to the demonstrators. When it became clear that tens of
    >thousands were coming to demonstrate whether or not a permit
    >was issued, the police admitted that the legal permits for
    >several sites claimed by the Bush inauguration committee in
    >fact legally belonged to counter-inauguration protesters.
    >However, police attempts to block the protest did not stop
    >after publicly issuing the permits to protesters. Rather,
    >the tactic changed.
    >Police instead announced that for the first time in over 200
    >years police checkpoints would be set up to approve people
    >and signs entering the mall area of Washington.
    >Protest organizers are challenging this attempt to set up a
    >mini police state to prevent protesters from being seen and
    >heard along the inaugural parade route.
    >Workers World talked with several top organizers of the
    >counter-inaugural protest at the International Action
    >Center. From these interviews it is possible to get an
    >inside picture of the events that led up to the Jan. 20
    >protests and the biggest government effort in decades to
    >block political protests in Washington.
    >Those who were interviewed include Teresa Gutierrez, co-
    >director of the IAC and a central figure in the progressive
    >coalition organizing the Jan. 20 demonstrations. Gutierrez
    >heads the U.S. Out of Colombia Committee, a nationwide
    >organization that opposes the U.S. military buildup, begun
    >by the Clinton administration, which threatens to open a new
    >Vietnam-type war in Colombia.
    >One aspect of the protests that Gutierrez has been focusing
    >on is defending the rights of undocumented immigrant workers
    >who are being threatened if they join the protests.
    >"The Bush administration thinks it's okay for undocumented
    >workers to come to Washington to cook their food and tend
    >their gardens, but not to protest," she said.
    >WW also interviewed the two IAC representatives who met with
    >the police on Jan. 9 when the permits were finally issued:
    >Larry Holmes and Brian Becker.
    >Holmes and Becker are also co-directors of the IAC, and both
    >are veterans of past political demonstrations in Washington.
    >Both, like Gutierrez, were arrested last April 15 in
    >Washington, when the police rounded up almost 700 anti-death-
    >penalty protesters the day before planned demonstrations
    >against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The
    >illegal arrests were an attempt to intimidate and prevent
    >the anti-IMF actions.
    >The picture that emerges from the interviews, reports in the
    >Washington Post and public statements by the police is that
    >something similar is being attempted this time.
    >Some of the protest organizers call this the post-Seattle
    >strategy. That is, ever since the new protest movement
    >against the oppression and destruction wrought by global
    >capitalism emerged in Seattle in December 1999, the police
    >have adopted a strategy toward demonstrations that is on the
    >borderline of constitutionality.
    >This strategy was seen in Washington in April and over the
    >summer at the protests outside the Republican and Democratic
    >The struggle for the counter-inaugural protest started three
    >months ago, on Oct. 6. That's when the IAC applied for
    >permits for three protest sites at the Jan. 20 inauguration.
    >The focus of the protest was to show opposition to the death
    >penalty and support for a new trial for political prisoner
    >Mumia Abu-Jamal. Both George W. Bush and Al Gore support the
    >death penalty, so it did not matter which one won.
    >According to the federal law that covers protest permits for
    >the District of Columbia, unless the permit is denied within
    >24 hours the permit is automatically granted. Apparently the
    >permit was granted at that time, but the police refused to
    >confirm it.
    >In the meantime, a hard-right majority of the U.S. Supreme
    >Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush, who had half
    >a million fewer votes than Al Gore nationally. The high
    >court did this by upholding the disenfranchisement of
    >thousands of voters in Florida, particularly in the African
    >American community.
    >These events changed the character of the demonstration. Not
    >only would the protests at the inauguration draw tens of
    >thousands, but there would be many more issues raised.
    >Getting the permits became even more important. A broad
    >sector of the population could be expected to join the
    >protests: from the African American majority who live in
    >Washington to union members across the country and all the
    >rest who want to protest the illegitimate crowning of George
    >Bush II.
    >Last April's events showed that the Washington police had
    >adopted a new strategy of non-cooperation with
    >demonstrations. Their refusal to acknowledge the permits
    >appeared to be aimed at intimidating anyone thinking of
    >going to the Jan. 20 protests. The TV images of police
    >gassing and beating demonstrators last April might be enough
    >to discourage a big turnout for the Jan. 20 protest.
    >The police then started a campaign in the mass media to try
    >to criminalize the Jan. 20 demonstrators. Police officials
    >started talking about terrorist threats and violence.
    >What they hadn't counted on was how deep and widespread the
    >anger is with the incoming Bush administration. In fact,
    >each passing day saw more groups and individuals joining the
    >IAC's call for a demonstration. Each day the estimates of
    >the protest's projected size rapidly increased.
    >As it became clear that the police tactics weren't
    >intimidating protesters, the police moved to grant the
    >permits on Jan. 9.
    >Many questions remained, however. What about the giant
    >bleachers the police have already erected in the areas where
    >protesters hold the permits? Also, with the announcement of
    >police checkpoints to enter the area, what good are the
    >permits if the protesters are not allowed access?
    >Holding a permit is clearly not enough. The nearly 700
    >protesters illegally arrested last April had a permit for
    >their peaceful demonstration. Though there was no legal
    >basis for the arrests and all the charges were later thrown
    >out by the courts, the legalities did not stop the police
    >from making mass arrests.
    >The IAC began to publicize the many ways the police were
    >attempting to deny the rights of counter-inauguration
    >protesters. At a Jan. 9 news conference Holmes and Becker
    >laid out many of these facts, joined by the IAC's lawyers
    >from the Partnership for Civil Justice. The news conference
    >was attended by the major media and broadcast on CNN and C-
    >The IAC offices in Washington and New York were flooded with
    >thousands of calls of support. The next day, however, the
    >Washington Post carried a front-page story that was
    >practically a news release written by the Secret Service.
    >Most of the story quoted the Secret Service on possible
    >threats from terrorists carrying shoulder-held missile
    >launchers. There were pictures of supposed Secret Service
    >training for just such a possibility at the parade.
    >The absurdity of implying that the legal protests were
    >somehow a front for launching a missile attack on the White
    >House only angered more people. An outraged worker at the
    >Washington Post approached IAC organizers to let them know
    >that the original front-page story had been about how
    >protesters' rights were being denied. On orders from the
    >top, that story was replaced with the one the Secret Service
    >That story about protesters' rights has since been buried.
    >But the Washington Post reports continue to read like they
    >are dictated by top police officials.
    >Then, on Jan. 16, the IAC went to court to try to protect
    >the rights of all demonstrators. Organizers sought an order
    >to have the bleachers and other obstructions removed so that
    >the protests can be held peacefully--that is, without
    >threats from the police.
    >This includes removing the 16 checkpoints that will make
    >getting into the inaugural parade area like Robin Hood
    >having to get permission from the sheriff of Nottingham to
    >pass through the checkpoint at the bridge over the moat
    >surrounding the White House castle.
    >Six of the checkpoints are reserved for an elite few who
    >have paid high fees to the Bush inauguration committee for
    >tickets. The other 10 checkpoints are supposed to handle the
    >other half-million people expected at the parade, including
    >demonstrators with permits.
    >That means that each checkpoint will have to pass about
    >50,000 people through each gate. The police indicate they
    >may detain and search anyone carrying protest signs, banners
    >or literature.
    >The legal basis for this, they say, is a new law passed two
    >years ago that gives the Secret Service emergency powers
    >over the inauguration. Under this law, the police contend,
    >they can do almost anything they want.
    >The Secret Service has refused to meet with the IAC and has
    >refused to make public what rules and prohibitions it has
    >ordered under its emergency powers.
    >There was no sign at the IAC offices of worry about the
    >police. Volunteers kept coming in. The phones rang nonstop.
    >The list of cities sending buses kept getting longer.
    >There can be no doubt that the wide opposition to the
    >incoming Bush administration will be seen on the streets of
    >Washington Jan. 20.
    >Jan. 25, 2001
    >issue of Workers World newspaper

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