Fw: (en) US, Free ZNet Update - Report from Philadelphia... August 1st 7 pm

Joe R. Golowka joegolowka at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 2 10:45:54 PDT 2000

Joe R. Golowka End the American Police State! Anarchist FAQ - http://www.infoshop.org/faq

"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality." -- Mikhail Bakunin ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Albert" <sysop at zmag.org> To: <znetupdates at tao.ca> Sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2000 8:24 AM Subject: (en) US, Free ZNet Update - Report from Philadelphia... August 1st 7 pm

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> Until 2 pm today I was at indoor events (more on those in
> another report) and after a brief rest I started walking the
> streets of downtown Philly, also know as Center City. Today
> had been designated as the Direct Action day. The
> Philadelphia Direct Action Group (PDAG), NYC Direct Action
> Network (NYC-DAN), Washington DAN and activists from other
> cities had agreed months ago to work together in the
> planning and organizing for this day.
> The idea was to build on the models used in Seattle last
> November and again in Washington, DC this past April.
> Affinity groups ranging in size from 5 to 50 (usually)
> developed the specific plans for their own actions, all tied
> together by a common theme: end the death penalty, support
> for Mumia Abu-Jamal and opposition to the ever expanding
> prison-industrial complex. A tactical team made
> recommendations to representatives of each affinity group at
> spokescouncil meetings. Each spokesperson would take the
> ideas back to their affinity group and return to the next
> meeting with the input, agreement or disagreement from their
> group. Of course, new proposals and ideas from affinity
> groups were always welcome.
> Each affinity group decided which of the seven sections of
> downtown Philadelphia (as proposed by the tactical group)
> they would do their action in. Then spokespeople from
> affinity groups in each section met together, figuring out
> what level of coordination was required. In addition, teams
> handling legal, medical, internal communications and media
> interfaced with the affinity groups and sectional clusters.
> One other important point: all of the groups working through
> this structure (and I counted at least 35 affinity groups as
> of Sunday night) agreed to a set of guidelines, including a
> commitment to non-violence. The specifics of what each group
> would do was left to them to decide, as well as the degree
> of cooperation they wanted to have with other affinity
> groups. As I understand it, there were other affinity groups
> not working through this structure, although I don¹t know
> how many.
> A few days ago there was consensus at the spokescouncil
> meeting that everyone would be in place and ready to go at
> 3:30 this afternoon. The Republican Convention begins in the
> early evening each day and buses pick up the delegates from
> their hotels at about 4:30. The basic plan for the direct
> action was to stop the flow of buses and thus stop, or at
> least delay, the opening of the convention this evening.
> At 2:30 I started walking through one of the areas where I
> knew some of the actions would take place. There was a quiet
> that was unsettling. Aside from an overwhelming police
> presence on the streets (every corner had two or three
> officers and every so often there were clusters of mounted
> police, motorcycle police, bicycle police and police
> vehicles), life seemed normal. That is if you think swarms
> of Republicans is normal.By 3 I started to notice some of
> the affinity groups gathering. Groups of two or three
> connected with others, moving down the streets to their
> pre-arranged meeting locations. Several roaming groups,
> including the Billionaires for Bush (or Gore) came by
> handing out play money, and a group dressed as clowns passed
> me. After walking around a little I found a quiet spot at a
> corner where I knew a street blockade was planned, but by
> 3:45 it was clear that they were not coming. A few of the
> legal observers where on hand, as well as two or three
> people from the alternative media who were prepared to
> document that action. I assume, but certainly don¹t know for
> sure, that the folks planning to do this action saw the very
> large police presence and changed their minds. I know I
> would have.
> At about the same time, a number of police vehicles with
> sirens and lights all going, went tearing down 16th Street.
> I had heard there might be a group blocking access to one of
> the main highways through Philly and they would be at 16th
> and Vine, just a few blocks away. The rush of cops in that
> direct was a sure sign that the action was underway. I
> walked down 16th heading toward Vine a few blocks away. But
> a full block before I could get there the police had already
> set up a blockade. All I could see was a mass of blue
> shirts, helmets and cop vehicles. In fact, the protesters
> had successful stopped access to the highway at that spot.
> (I learned several hours later that there had been about 40
> people in that action and the police took about two hours
> before arresting them. The arrests went smoothly, and there
> was no violence from the police.)
> Not being able to get close, I turned back toward my
> original spot, only to find a group of demonstrators running
> down the sidewalk toward me--followed by several mounted
> police. No matter how many times I see cops on horses, I
> still find it very scary. The cops only went about a block
> and a half and all of the protesters got away. Someone told
> me that several dumpsters had been overturned and that¹s
> what had set this off.
> By 4 I left this area and headed in the direction of the
> police sirens. (Remember that eerie quiet I mentioned
> before? Sometime about 3:30 or 3:40 that came to an end--and
> for hours the sound of sirens, rushing motorcycles and
> helicopters overhead was all you could hear.) I walked a few
> blocks to the corner of 13th and Arch, only to find that the
> group which had been sitting in the intersection for more
> than an hour ­ with cops watching on the side ­ had just
> left. Several things were already becoming clear: there was
> a massive police presence on the streets; the police had
> great mobility and were moving very quickly; the police were
> not arresting everyone, and in some instances where taking a
> fairly long time to make arrests.
> As I walked back to the Independent Media Center, I noticed
> an extremely large police gathering on Broad Street, one of
> the main arteries in downtown. In fact, police where
> blocking all traffic both ways at the corner of Broad and
> Locust. A group of demonstrations where sitting in the
> street a full block away. All I could see was cops and cop
> vehicles. There was no way to see what was actually
> happening with the people sitting in. I stood on the corner
> for about 40 minutes and aside from the bike-cops using the
> bikes to stop people from stepping off the sidewalk, I saw
> no motion. I assumed the street was also blocked on the
> other sides, so there was no point in trying to circle
> around.
> As I sit here working on this piece the Independent Media
> Center is buzzing. Calls are coming in from locations all
> around Center City: people are sitting in, police are
> arresting folks ­ or not, at least one instance of pepper
> spray being used, windows on Market Street (a big shopping
> district) spray painted, and massive traffic jams. I don¹t
> have access to the mainstream news right now, so I don¹t
> know if convention delegates got there, if things started on
> time or were delayed. But for sure, the usual flow of things
> in downtown Philadelphia was disrupted--this is not business
> as usual!
> Later this evening there will be a press conference and more
> details should be available.
> What I gather right now is that upwards of 200 people have
> been arrested and taken to different jails in and around
> Philly. The police had previously said they would hold
> people for at least 24 hours, but we shall see what happens.
> Finally, as I finish this report, I just heard that the
> police have managed to get everyone who is still on the
> streets into one location and again they have blocked off
> access to everyone else, including the media. At least one
> person from the Independent Media Center is with the group
> so perhaps there will be footage available--if that person
> is not arrested and doesn¹t have their video taken away.
> I will get another report out later this evening, bringing
> you more details and updates on the situation.
> By Leslie Cagan
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