All posts by Tristan Wingnut

Strength Flows From Diversity

The Republican Party plans to hold it’s convention in New York City. Two things are obvious: that George W. Bush will be chosen as their presidential candidate and that tens of thousands of us, with another view of how the world could be, will protest. For radicals this presents an opportunity. We can gather in huge numbers and make an impact. Certainly we make an impact in all of our home cities and areas as much as we can. Going where the Republicans choose lets them have a bit of control and takes some energy from other projects, but for many of us this is an event not to miss.

Already there has been a lot of talk about tactics since many of us want to do more than merely march. We are so filled with emotion by the daily outrages of those who claim to rule this world that to just stand by and say “No!” feels like a betrayal to ourselves. We will take action to stop them or make them feel a bit of what we feel every day. We will march, blockade, be arrested, sit down, break laws and impede the Republicans as we shout our rage from rooftops and alleyways. There have been many critiques, for instance that the Black Block (a militant protest tactic, to avoid being singled out by cops by all wearing black) will just be arrested and that many will be too liberal and just march into protest pit traps. Our goals should not be to force everyone to do things our way. If some people feel better with others dressed in the same fashion scheme, and take their joy in that and are arrested, then so be it. We know there will be arrests, and if some groups make themselves more into targets then that is for them to decide. If others feel the most secure following along and marching into a pen then let them. Our goal should be to, as someone once said, “Make the revolution irresistible.” Telling people that they are doing it all wrong is no where near as effective as leading through example. We fear to expose ourselves to attack and so it is much easier to criticize than to actually propose an idea and do it. Let’s break into small groups and take the whole city. Injustice resides all over, not just in Bush.

Our strength as a movement comes in our diversity and ability to be inspiring. While well-coordinated plans and numbers surely help, they should not be seen as the be all and end all. When we have had the most success has been when we united farmers, nuns, anarchists, immigrants, NGOs, unionists, environmentalists, concerned neighbors and many others. It’s not necessary to all do the same thing or even be in the same spot — all we have to do is show a similar position. When it comes to Bush there is massive opposition, we can ride the anti-Bush tide and his defeat may give a huge upsurge to positive ideals. Bush is merely a puppet of those who hold real power and in New York radicals can continue to educate those around us about larger problems of the governmental system and capitalism. There are many that say “Anyone but Bush”. Imagine if Bush disappeared today. We would get . . . Cheney. We all agree that we need to defeat Bush and the War in Iraq. So let’s fight but also try to show that the world could be different. We could treat each other better, share and trade what we have and empower local communities to head in the direction they see as most fulfilling.

Let’s face it — this struggle is a lot bigger than Bush or the Republicans. Maybe we will have the most amazing plan and best tactics and Bush will suddenly realize that he has been acting from his fear and hurt feelings and that he will be healed by trying to empower himself rather than dominate the world. Even after this we will still have plenty to do. Our struggle will not end in New York. We will have years to come. Let’s make the best of it and try to prioritize treating each other well as we organize, supporting diverse ideas and desires. We can’t just focus on the issues, we also must acknowledge how we feel deep inside. If the Convention carries on unimpeded but all the folks who came to New York feel truly fulfilled, united and excited to carry on, we will have the foundation for the future. If, on the other hand, the action is great but we all leave feeling pissed off at each other, disregarded and angry, we will have made little progress.

It is inside ourselves that we must find happiness and joy in life. When we look around we see so much that must change. Whether it’s children dying of disease after the water is privatized in South Africa, from pollution from chemical plants in the US or from bullets shot in Iraq, we can not find peace inside until we address the problems of the world. So many of those problems start right here in this country, thus we are uniquely positioned to effect them. And we will fight as hard as we can in New York and beyond while keeping in mind that the more we support each other (even when we disagree) the more those others will be there to support us when we need it.

Balloons Over Prague

Thousands disrupt Prague IMF/World Bank meeting

The IMF and the World Bank (WB) were created by rich nations after WWII supposedly to stabilize national economies and pull them out of poverty. Now over 50 years later they do the opposite. They continue in colonialism\’s footsteps, keeping some countries very rich while forcing two-thirds of the world\’s population into poverty. However, protests continue to gain momentum and pressure continues to mount on these institutions. They\’ve now hired public relations experts and James Wolfensohn, head of the World Bank with personal wealth of over $100 million, is quick to tell anyone who will listen how much he cares about the world\’s poor. Every four years the IMF and WB hold a giant meeting. This time the 14,000 bankers chose the Czech Republic. As an ex-communist country it is trying hard to show how much it embraces capitalism.

Organizing protest in Czechoslovakia was a challenge. There has only been an activist scene there since 1990. So with almost no funds and no NGO support a small group of Czechs and foreigners did what we could. September 26th, the first day of the meeting, we gathered at Namesti Miru (Peace Square). The government\’s threats worked to some degree: only 5-8,000 came. They were, however, the most militant protesters from all over Europe. There were 11,000 police, the entire police force of the country. The rally ended at 12:00 pm and we split into three marches. Our plan was to surround the Congress Center and block in the delegates.

The Congress Center is perched on a hill, bordered by a river and a deep valley. The Yellow march took the bridge over the valley. They were Belgian, French and others, led by Ya Basta from Italy. They used inner tubes and foam armor for protection, and at one point released balloons into police lines. They were well organized but were unable to force their way through 500 police with armored personnel carriers and pepper spray.

The Blue march went through the valley. It consisted of about 1,000 anarchists from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Greece. Two blocks from the center they met a wall of heavily armored police with water cannon tanks. A huge battle began. Protesters threw rocks and an occasional molotov. Police continually used water cannons, tons of concussion grenades, batons and teargas. After about two hours protesters were pushed back, and built burning barricades in the streets. Some reached the Congress Center and spray painted it.

The Pink March had several factions including many socialists. The main highway was occupied all day. In another place Spanish protesters were beaten and arrested. Pink and Silver was a big Samba Band mostly from the UK. At one point they got right up to the Center.

The delegates finally escaped by taking the subway. At 6:30 over 1,000 of us went on an energetic march downtown. At 7:30 we met another group that had blockaded the delegate\’s opera, forcing it to be canceled. At this point some people went to a main square and smashed symbols of capitalism: a bank, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds. Others marched to the delegate\’s banquet: it was also canceled. The IMF/WB were so scared that they quickly wrapped up their meetings the next day and fled the city, canceling the last day. We shut them down. We won!

In all, several hundred protesters, 120 police and 2 delegates were injured. That day police arrested 422 people, mostly as they left protests. The second day\’s small march was surrounded by police; most were eventually let go. Police swept the city. They stopped, searched and arrested 468 more people. Once in jail, hundreds were beaten, many severely. No prisoners were allowed phone calls or a lawyer, and most were denied food, water and sleep.

On the 28th there was a protest for the release of those in jail. Riot police surrounded and arrested 70 people. They were released that night with pressure from the Spanish embassy and jail solidarity. Most of the other prisoners were released over the next few days, many with bruises and injuries. 230 were foreigners, who were driven to the border or given 24 hours to leave the country, making it hard for them to file official complaints. Six are still in jail. In all 20 face charges such as assaulting police or criminal damage.

We demand the release of the activists still in prison, and the dismissal of all charges. We further call for investigation into police actions and beatings in the jails.

Support: Solidarita, L.K. , P.O. box 13, 679 21 Cerna Hora, Czech Republic.

Phone +420603-310170.

For legal info: