Someone owes Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan an apology. In a July 13 letter to the "LA Times," he gave "fair warning" that during the upcoming Democratic National Convention, police would "get tough" on "international anarchists (who) have attended training camps where they have learned strategies of destruction and guerrilla tactics."
So far the city of angels has issued few parade permits to protesters, while the city council first granted and then withdrew permission for them to rally at Pershing Square, the one large open area near the downtown Staples Center, the site of the DNC. Meantime, the LAPD wants to corral demonstrators in a vacant lot that has been described as about the size of the right-field foul territory at Dodger Stadium.
Some, like former Chicago 8 defendant and current Democratic state senator from Los Angeles, Tom Hayden, said the mayor's letter sounded "hauntingly" like another Mayor Richard J. -- Daley of Chicago, circa 1968. Others questioned whether his honor had been listening to too much boogie-woogie music. Anarchists? As in Emma Goldman, Mother Jones, Joe Hill and Big Bill Haywood? The Haymarket riot of 1885? Sacco and Vanzetti? Talk about old school.
In his letter, Riordan said they "communicate their methods of malice over the Internet," and challenged people to "log on to http://www.D2kla.org to see just how determined and organized these anarchists are." The address leads to a Web site for demonstrators converging on LA Aug. 14-17 for the DNC. But they are mostly people exercising their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly to protest corporate globalization, militarism, poverty, starvation, health care, welfare, campaign finance corruption, racism, sexism, ageism, "homo/trans-phobia," environmental destruction, prison conditions, genocide, nukes, guns, capital punishment, sweatshops, fur -- just about everyone, it would seem, except anarchists.
The coalition includes the "Direct Action Network" <www.directactionnetwork.org>, committed to overcoming corporate globalization and all forms of oppression; "Los Angeles Independent Media Center" <la.indymedia.org>, which recently carried a presentation on how to report police misconduct; and the "Power to the People Roadshow -- Democracy Action Tour" <www.artandrevolution.org/roadshow>, a July 20-30 rolling teach-in from San Diego to Sacramento "to educate, inspire and mobilize young people to head to Los Angeles to expose the hypocrisy of the Democratic National Convention."
The groups have come together under the amorphous umbrella of anti-globalization, or global justice, a movement few had heard of until last November, when 50,000 demonstrators surprised officials in Seattle, stalling a meeting of the World Trade Organization. Seattle became the Woodstock of the movement when local police overreacted to an outbreak of looting and vandalism, radicalizing bystanders and bringing the protests to world attention.
With less success, anti-globalizationists tried to clog Washington in April. They also intend to pester the GOP at its national convention beginning July 29 in Philadelphia, before moving on to Los Angeles, where they plan to be a pain in the Democrats' ass.
But what about LA Mayor Riordan's anarchists? Well, it turns out they are indeed invading Los Angeles.
According to "Your Guide to Online Anarchy" <infoshop.org>, "thousands of anarchists will join thousands of other activists at the conventions for the two major parties in this so-called 'democracy.'" Also, the "North American Anarchist Conference" <naac.8m.com> is holding its "Festival of Communities in Resistance" Aug. 11-17 in Los Angeles.
"Online Anarchy" has a page called "Choose and Lose 2000: An anarchist guide to NOT voting," along with biographies of comrades Goldman, Jones, Sacco and Vanzetti, and information on the "Anarchist Cookbook," a 1971 bomb- and mischief-making manual not available on the Web, but that can be purchased from Amazon.com or a bookstore.
NAAC provides a handy quiz to determine if you have anarchist tendencies yourself. The questions include: If you knew all of the police were on vacation for a day, would you: a. Kill all of your neighbors. b. Loot your neighbors' homes. c. Do what you normally do, and maybe drink a beer in your front yard after work.
So everyone who doubted that anarchists are about to invade LA owes Mayor Riordan an apology. As to the mayor's threat to "get tough" on lawbreakers, one might think the template for how not to host a convention would be the so-called police riot during the 1968 DNC in Chicago. But when you think about it, there hasn't been as much interest in a political convention since.
As the Robert De Niro character says in "Wag the Dog," political conventions have become like "pageants." And with the networks cutting back their coverage, maybe the mayor of Los Angeles is just trying to boost ratings. Only instead of Albania, he's declared war on international anarchy.
And here's the really clever part: As the mayor noted in his letter, "the vast majority of demonstrators will be orderly and responsible," and relatively few will be "rogue demonstrators, anarchists whose sole intent is violent disruption."
But what if all the protesters are treated like
anarchists? What if they are all denied the right to assemble near the
action? Maybe then they'll end up in the streets with the hooligans, making
them all look like anarchists. Encourage the police to welcome them to
LA and voila, the whole world will be watching.
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