Greens crash Democrats' party
Members vocal at convention
By Charles Shaw
Illinois Green Party
The Democratic Party held its national convention in Boston during the week
of July 26-29, 2004. Despite public opinion polls that showed that more than
half of Americans--and nine out of 10 delegates to the convention--opposed the
war in Iraq, the peace and anti-war community was grossly underrepresented in
There are a number of significant factors that contributed to the low turnout,
including the overwhelming security and police presence and the daily recurring
threats of transnational terrorism and so-called "anarchist violence,"
the prevailing notion that Bush and the Republicans are solely to blame for the
war, the lack of organization on the part of the larger protest movement, many
members of whom were clearly saving their energies for New York City, and the
unwillingness on the part of most Americans to make the Democrats look bad when
they are seen by many opponents of the Bush agenda as potential saviors.
|Members of the Green-Rainbow Party of
Massachusetts are confronted by riot police as they protest outside the
site of the Democratic National Convention.
Photo: Charles Shaw / Illinois Green Party
Despite these hindrances, the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party, the Green
Party of the United States (GP-US) Peace Action Committee and the Cobb-LaMarche
campaign emerged as leaders in the Boston streets. In collaboration with the
newly formed Bl(A)ck Tea Society, the Green-Rainbow Party co-sponsored two full
days of marches and rallies to open and close the convention.
Green presidential candidate David Cobb made speeches and appearances throughout
the week, and his runningmate, Pat LaMarche, spoke at a rally in protest of a
proposed bioterrorism lab in downtown Boston and appeared at a fundraiser, along
with Medea Benjamin, for local candidates Rich Zitola and Carolina Johnson.
Greens also participated in the "Really Really Democratic Bazaar," an
all-day progressive festival that took place on the Boston Common on Tuesday.
The Boston streets were virtually empty all week, and there was a police
presence everywhere. The Fleet Center was surrounded on all sides by a
10-foot-high cast-iron barricade and was guarded by heavily armed National Guard
troops. The paltry progressive contingent that made the trip to Boston found
themselves tailed all week long, followed by phalanxes of motorcycle cops,
helicopters and police in riot gear. Secret Service officers and undercover
police are suspected to have infiltrated each event.
GP-US Peace Action Committee co-chair Aimee Smith and Bl(A)ck Tea organizer Elly
Guillette were responsible for organizing a civil disobedience action on Monday
during the first march in which demonstrators communicated to the Boston police
that they refused to be caged within the so-called "Free-Speech Zone,"
a fence-and-razor wire pen set up to the east of the Fleet Center.
Because of this early firm stance and their commitment to nonviolent protest,
the police relented, and the "Free Speech Zone" remained essentially
empty the entire week.
By Thursday morning, the police were claiming they had evidence of pending
violence. When the march reached the Fleet Center, a mass of riot police were
deployed to clear the street, and uniformed officers attacked the crowd and
dragged off three young anarchists for having "accelerants and an
incendiary device," sparking a near riot. As it turned out, the device in
question was a paper-mache hook worn by an anarchist dressed as a pirate.
Many protest attendees felt that the most pressing question of the week was why
the progressive community still feels some form of allegiance to the Democratic
Party. Progressive priorities were written out of the party platform in 1975
after the McGovern nomination, and ever since, the party has moved rightward.
Even progressive champion Dennis Kucinich agreed to release his delegates to
vote for John Kerry in order to have a prime-time television address.
What was clear in the streets of Boston is that American progressives who feel
left out by the Democratic Party have coalesced around the Green Party. Cobb and
LaMarche were tireless advocates, making themselves available to the progressive
community all week long while Democratic leaders were cordoned off from the
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