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News :: Peace & War : Protest Activity

The WWP, main force behind the Antiwar ANSWER, Splits

It is secretly being screamed all over left circles. The Workers’ World Party (WWP) has splintered. This will have no importance in the news if it wasn’t for the fact that for a long time the WWP – a formation of about 300 militants nationwide -- allegedly dominated ANSWER, one of the main antiwar coalitions in the US.

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News :: Crime & Police

Justice Dept. sending teams to Richmond, N. Virginia

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is dispatching teams of federal agents to Richmond, Va., the Washington, D.C. region and 13 other cities struggling with violent crime problems despite a dropping U.S. crime rate, Attorney General John Ashcroft said today.

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News :: Peace & War

Richmond groups join to organize anti-war march, rally

Groups join to organize anti-war march, rally

July 3 event in Richmond to include voter registration and educational workshops

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Richmond - this sleepy little Southern town, as it's oft described in newspapers from places that aren't sleepy or little or Southern - is about to rouse itself in protest.

At least that's what organizers of a coming anti-war march and rally hope.

The Virginia Anti-War Coalition, a conglomeration of groups that some people would describe as left-wing or liberal, plans its protest for July 3.

The march and rally are scheduled for "three days after phony 'transfer of power'" to Iraqis on June 30; the goal: "Bring the troops home now!" That's according to a news release put out a month before the rally.

Jim Straub, one of the organizers, said the left is so marginalized and silent in Richmond that organized protests tend to bring the like-minded together because they are their only outlet. "Sometimes it makes our job a little easier."

Straub, who moved here from Philadelphia, is a member of the VCU Living Wage Campaign. The groups in the anti-war coalition also include Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality; The People United; Progressive Mus- lim Network; Richmond A.N.S.W.E.R.; Richmond Food Not Bombs; Richmond Independent Media Center; Richmond Peace Education Center; Richmond Queer Space Project; VCU Muslim Student Association; and the regional D.C. Anti-War Network.

"We're all coming together," said Jen Lawhorne, one of the designated media contacts for the march. She expects upward of 500 people.

Muna Hijazi, a 25-year-old Palestinian-American, said she has been an activist for a long time. One of her goals in organizing the march is "to tell people in this town that there is not only active dissent . . . but it is OK to come forward and express that dissent."

The crowds at early anti-war events "have been astronomical," she said. "The fact that anyone gets out in such a conservative town, especially into four digits, is really saying something."

A march in August brought out 300 to 400, and now "a lot more people are concerned about what's happening in Iraq," Lawhorne said.

About 2,000 people turned out for a march in March 2003, but that devolved into what one critic called "basic wilding." A crowd broke off from the protest when it ended at Monroe Park and went on a little vandalism rampage, breaking a few windows along the way.

Lawhorne and Straub said that's not what the coming march and rally is about.

The event will include voter registration and educational workshops, Lawhorne said. "We're trying to reinvigorate the anti-war movement."

There is, though, the specter of the anti-war protests planned for New York City during the Republican National Convention beginning in late August.

One critic of the Richmond march, Michael Sarahan, a lawyer and former assistant city attorney who has been active in some of the organizations sponsoring the march, said the organizers are simply practicing for New York.

"The July 3 group is not well-meaning," he said. Instead, he said, it is being organized by a group of anarchists bent on forwarding their own agenda, and he wants it to fail.

Sarahan has mounted an outspoken campaign against the march organizers. He is trying to "ensure a peaceful day in our community in Richmond. That's the best I can do."

Lawhorne and the others said Sarahan has it wrong. "This isn't about going to New York," she said. In her view, there's plenty to work on here.

There is, for instance, CACI International Inc., the Arlington County-based defense contractor supplying civilian interrogators to the U.S. military at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. The company has an office in Richmond, and "I think people should know about it," Lawhorne said.

Straub, though, said the march here "is in every sense a practice" for New York. His goal is to reach out to as broad a section of society as possible.

Lawhorne and Straub were quoted in a New York Times article about plans for the upcoming protests in New York.

Straub said then that the idea of getting arrested there for civil disobedience didn't bother him.

"I am not going to have a work schedule for two weeks after, just in case," he was quoted as saying.

Lawhorne, 24, said the New York event will be one of the finer moments of the American left.

But, in a more recent phone interview, Straub said the march here will be peaceful, "safe and family-friendly. No civil disobedience." The group has a permit and is recruiting marshals to help control the crowd.

Richmond police Lt. Thomas French said the march will begin at Monroe Park, go east on Franklin Street to Ninth Street, south on Ninth to Main Street and then back to the park.

He said an estimated 11 to 15 officers will be along the route, primarily to stop traffic while the marchers pass.

He acknowledged the potential for civil disobedience and said "we've taken steps to deal with that . . . but we don't anticipate any problems."

Contact Gordon Hickey at (804) 649-6449 or ghickey@timesdispatch.com

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News :: Elections & Legislation

Greens For Impact launched

Greens for Impact is an organization of principled, pragmatic Green Party members and progressive populists dedicated to the goal of defeating George W. Bush in his bid for a second term as president, while simultaneously furthering the growth of the Green Party as an independent alternative to the corporate-dominated parties.

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News :: Environment

Action camp leaves uncertain legacy

The Clinch Ranger District realizes protests are likely following last week's Action Camp, designed to teach civil disobedience to people wanting to stop trees from being cut.

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights : Crime & Police

If I Get Shot By The Police

If I Get Shot By The Police

by Adam Bahner, Guest Commentator

Maybe the tempest of blue-on-black homicide hasn’t rained down on you. But the police slayings of unarmed black men that continue to grip America are a sinister eulogy; burying hope with one hand and exhuming a twisted justice with the other. As a black man, whatever that means, I’d better give you my take on things. If I get shot by the police, you’ll never hear it like it happened.

If I get shot by the police, you should know that I wasn’t a drug dealer, an ex-felon, or an addict. Better still, you should know that it doesn’t matter. In my life, I met countless men and women who’d been in each of those places. All had many things to teach me.

No matter what they say if I get shot by the police, I wasn’t brandishing a firearm. I wasn’t being aggressive. I may have been listening to music with a beat, but I wasn’t a thug. I repeat: I wasn’t a thug. Of course, nobody can be reduced to a slur.

Who is a thug anyway? A boy-made-man by violent urban divestment? A boy whose image-world became a temple of saccharine Eurocentric consumerism? A boy who saw no intelligent visions of himself? An exile whose neighborhood was run-down, torn-down, rebuilt, and gentrified without him inside? Know that I tried to make a difference in these issues. I tried to add my nuts and bolts to Lowell’s scaffold of truth.

If I get shot by the police, it won’t be called a “Musician Shooting,? a “Composer Shooting,? or a “Vocalist Shooting.? The headlines won’t say “Orator Shooting,? “Scholar Shooting,? “Pianist Shooting? “Superb Cook Shooting,? or “Loving Uncle Shooting.? The headlines won’t mention me at all. They’ll say “Police Shooting,? as though it makes no difference whether I was a man or a fire hydrant; as long as I got shot by a badge.

Your television set won’t say “an author was shot by the police this evening.? Only a “man,? a “suspect,? or a “resident.? I won’t have an occupation, because that evokes dignity and worth. Only the police will be named by their occupation; to shoot defective humans like me. The newsreels will make real this fantasy. Don’t buy the spin if I get shot by the police.

I won’t be “gunned down,? because “gunning down? affirms the victim. “Shooting? affirms the perpetrator. Police officers get “gunned down,? but others just get shot by them. Equal tragedy will get unequal rhetoric. Beware of this if I get shot by the police.

There will be no context if I get shot by the police. I’ll be an anomaly. A trivia. A statistic. Time will pass. I’ll be uttered at someone’s kitchen table during a TV commercial: “Remember the guy they shot that year? No…the other one.? Your local paper won’t situate me in the history of police brutality. It won’t be delivered with shrink-wrapped Cliff’s Notes to the legacy of American ethnic cleansing.

Every February, if I get shot by the police, I won’t be acknowledged on the intercom at your local grocery chain. I won’t appear next to sanitized, neutralized, and unrealized caricatures of Carver, Parks, and King. I won’t be in the fifteen-second-spots on your local network affiliates that celebrate Black History. I won’t be a topic as politicians remind us just how far we’ve come. The media will close-up the present as they trumpet closure of the past. You can bet on that if I get shot by the police.

There will be no justice if I get shot by the police. My shooter will get paid administrative leave. They’ll rush before a conduct committee; union-approved with citizens removed. If they are exonerated, no charges will be filed. If they are reprimanded, no charges will be filed. If they are white, race won’t be a factor. If they aren’t white, the question will be profane. Colleagues will give interviews, and be glad to have the officer back in action. Their family will be made a highlight of the difficult ordeal.

I will be silent; beyond the chamber of fiction. A never-was-didn’t-happen casserole in the atrophied kitchen of critical vision. A raindrop in the flooding genetic memory of some chocolate infant, unreal and unacknowledged in the tribulations of his tomorrow.

Adam Bahner can be reached at contact@adambahner.com. He notes that William Pepper’s latest book, An Act of State, makes a powerful case that Dr. Martin Luther King was shot by the police.

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:: Civil & Human Rights : Crime & Police : Elections & Legislation : Environment : Globalization : Indymedia : Media : Peace & War : Prisons : Protest Activity

Pics Virginia First Annual People United Activist Gathering

A weekend in the scenic Virginian river valleys, beautiful weather, great company, powerful energies for social change... It is likely many new or enhanced efforts will result from this gathering of activists, please check back with RegimeChanger.Com for details of upcoming events.

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News :: Environment

Anti-logging activists gather on High Knob

While the U.S. Forest Service makes plans for its controversial timber sale on Bark Camp, environmental activists from across the Southeast are making their own plans to stop, or at least slow down, the project.

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