Help is on the way for the protesters arrested during the Republican National Convention, but if recent history is any guide, the fallout from the federal and municipal governments' totalitarian tactics won't be sorted out for yearsif ever.
The same prior-restraint tactics that were used against protesters at the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia (by John Timoney and the feds), and then perfected by Timoney (once again with federal help) at last November's FTAA protests, were used to perfection against New York City protesters. Don't say we didn't warn you.
And good luck on getting a thorough review of police tactics by an independent panel. Such a review occurred in Miami, but with little impact. The issue for now, anyway, is whether help will come from the Democratic Party, in the form of a real campaign for the presidency.
While we're waiting for Kerry's campaign to begin, go to the National Lawyers Guild's RNC Mass Defense page to keep hope alive.
For a good overview of the aftermath of the closely watched and suppressed August 29 march, see my colleague Jennifer Gonnerman's account from Pier 57. Also see "The Rise of the Homeland Security State," a worthwhile first-person tale by Voice contributor and march arrestee Nick Turse for Tom Englehardt's estimable TomDispatch.com.
Meanwhile, the new version of Camilo Viveiros has been born: His name is Josh Banno. Viveiros was the protester at the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia who was accused of throwing a bicycle at Timoney. The housing activist endured four years of an agonizing and costly legal battle before he was acquitted. (See this Bush Beat item for details.)
Banno stands accused of setting the dragon float on fire during the August 29 protest. He spent nearly a week in the Tombs and still faces five felony charges, according to the newly formed Banno Defense Committee.
While Bush protesters like Banno fight locally, where's the putative No. 1 Bush protester, Kerry?
Framing that question in a declarative way, as usual, is The Black Commentator's editor in chief, Glen Ford, who says of Kerry:
He made the party bland, projecting generalities and banalities, and focusing all attention on his own personal character and history. He refused to take up the cause of a vast majority of Democratsand now, a clear majority of Americansby presenting an exit strategy from Iraq.
More to the point about the national party's disconnect from its frustrated horde of protesters is The Black Commentator's Margaret Kimberley, whose latest Freedom Rider column praises the New York City marchers for doing what Kerry's campaign has not only not done but has even scorned:
Those 400,000 people are the ones whose voices should be heeded and yet they are the most scorned. The August 29 march was the largest demonstration at any political convention in American history. Of course, the significance of the event was lost on what passes for leadership among the Democrats. Terry McAuliffe, chair of the Democratic National Committee, went out of his way to disassociate the party from the people who despite their misgivings about John Kerry are the most committed to getting him elected. “We have nothing to do with the demonstrators,” McAuliffe proudly proclaimed.
The Democratic base is crying for help but has been left to its own devices in fighting the Bush administration. While their party’s nominee did not utter one word of even qualified support for their actions they continued to hold marches, vigils, and other actions while the convention took place. John Kerry said nothing about the FBI harassment of protesters that took place before the convention even began. He said nothing about the people who left their home states to march through the streets of New York, all in an effort to get him elected.
Wake up to the fact that The Black Commentator is not some black-only site, like a UPN or WB black sitcom (see what Alvin Pouissant has to say about blacks on TV). Go on, white people, click on it. Don't be afraid.