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New Ground 48

September - October, 1996

Contents

  • Can the Soul of the Democratic Party Be Saved? "They Danced the Macarena While Liberalism Burned" by Robert Roman
  • DSA National Youth Section Congress Meets at the University of Chicago By Bill Dixon
  • Sidebar: Summary of Youth Section Congress Resolutions
  • Chicago Needs a Living Wage: Excerpts From Ron Baiman's Testimony Before the City Council by Dr. Ron Baiman
  • Chicago Conference on Ethics and Meaning By Stan Rosen
  • Chicago Police Raid Anarchist Headquarters As President Addresses Convention

  • Can the Soul of the Democratic Party Be Saved?

    "They Danced the Macarena While Liberalism Burned"

    By Robert Roman

    While there were a good few DSA members who attended the Democratic Convention as delegates, and while there were a good few DSA members who fomented and participated in protests outside the convention, DSA's participation at the convention, as an organization, was limited to organizing a "Progressive Caucus" forum.

    Entitled "Save the Soul of the Democratic Party!", the meeting was held on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 27, at Roosevelt University. It was held under the auspices of the "Committee on Economic Insecurity", consisting of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), DSA, and the National Organization for Women. In reality, it was an almost exclusively DSA operation. The national staff descended upon Chicago and, with the assistance of several Chicago DSA and Youth Section volunteers, distributed some 15,000 flyers, several hundred press releases; the staff spent hours schmoozing delegates and players for promises to attend.

    The forum was directed primarily at delegates, the press and other convention attendees. In particular, DSA was interested in coverage from the print media. As Alan Charney, DSA's National Director, explained it, the electronic media were welcome (Pacifica Radio and CBS attended) but too ephemeral for a complicated message. In the end, almost 100 delegates, reporters and election junkies attended the meeting. The room was full and the food (my responsibility) inadequate.

    Chris Riddiough, DSA's DC staffperson, chaired the meeting. Dr. Irene Jillson represented the ADA. Alan Charney represented DSA. The forum was shrewdly organized. As there was no way of knowing which of the players would come through on their promise to appear and, if so, when, Jillson and Charney spoke first. Then the audience was invited to speak. This was not something most of them were accustomed to in the context of mainstream politics where everything has become a controlled production. But there were lefties in the crowd to break the ice. The attendees were delighted to have the opportunity to be on a soapbox, unsupervised.

    Irene Jillson of the ADA spoke first. She spent most of her opening remarks talking about the ADA's recently adopted Liberal Platform, which she played a major role in bringing to fruition. (This has got to be the first political platform with footnotes, but it's a good document. Copies may be obtained from the ADA national office 202-785-5980 or adaction@ix.netcom.com)

    Alan Charney spoke of his intense feelings of outrage and disappointment over Clinton's failure to veto the welfare "deform" bill. And how this and other of Clinton's failures left him feeling deeply divided; his heart revolting at the thought of supporting Clinton but his head aware of what a disaster Dole would be.

    And this was the point of the meeting: however much Clinton has betrayed his base of support, his relative freedom to betray was a failure of the Left. What do we do to change this? What do we do about 1998 and 2000?

    As usual for public forums, there was much talk and little of it to the point. Among the players who bopped in from time to time, only Dolores Huerta, of the United Farm Workers and DSA National Vice-Chair, had anything interesting to say. In the course of her remarks, she said that we need a third party. About four people in the audience applauded wildly. The rest sat quietly, not with hostility but more as if she had uttered a nonsequitur. Dolores Huerta, and other advocates of third parties, needed to hear that reaction, or the lack of it. But more importantly, that particular audience needed to hear someone of Dolores Huerta's stature call for a left alternative to the Democrats.

    So can the soul of the Democratic Party be saved? I hardly think it has one that even the devil would care to have. Rather, what of the soul of the Left? I have a bias toward the concrete: what do we do?, and that would have been a bit much to expect from a meeting such as this. But a conversation about the concrete is vital, as a first step, if we are to avoid damnation.


    DSA National Youth Section Congress Meets at the University of Chicago

    By Bill Dixon

    So- suppose you're in your teens or twenties and you count yourself as on the Left. So where does this leave you? Somewhere, no doubt, but really nowhere very spectacular, particularly when compared to political generations of days gone by. That is to say, there is very little Left worthy of the name these days, and the same goes double for generational revolt. The decline of the Left and the eclipse of youth-movements of all stripes make for dry times for those organizing DSA's own Youth Section, which assembled at the University of Chicago August 23rd for its annual summer conference.

    When New Ground editor Bob Roman assigned me to cover the conference, I had some hesitations. Frankly, I expected this to be a paltry gathering by any measure, one made even paltrier by the fact that it came on the eve of the Democratic Party's return to Chicago, an event that would both invoke and attempt exorcism of the spirits of '68. There would be lies about Vietnam. There would be lies about the Daley machine and the Chicago police. There would be ex-radicals chirping on about "healing." There would be Clintonites covering up the atrocities of the newly signed Welfare Bill. And then there would be our Youth Section - minuscule, dissolute, bickering, and of all things, shy - in short, not the kind of outfit with which one can with any joy face the spirits of '68, let alone confront their antagonists. Anyway, since I owe Bob some favors and since New Ground readers know that socialist conferences are the kind of things that deserve publicity almost as much as they deserve attendance, please read on for my report. I'll try to relate a few surprises.

    First off, it might be a surprise to some that DSA even has a youth section. In this day and age socialism is alleged to have gone gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) into the good night of history's dustbin. And in the United States socialists have been without a public spokesperson since the death of Michael Harrington in 1989. Even DSA's most loyal VIPs, Barbara Ehrenreich and Cornel West, seldom mention the S-word, preferring for the moment to leave their politics unnamed if not unorganized. So it's remarkable that DSA's membership has grown by over 20% since the early 90's. And it is even more astonishing that youth section contacts continue to pop up, virtually unsolicited, all around the country.

    Back in the 80's and early 90's the youth section often thought of itself as a kind of semi-autonomous organization, straddling the shifting grounds of the ideological Left, the broader progressive movement, and campus activism. In those days YS activists claimed lineage to the Old Left of the 30's and the New Left of the 60's. Sometimes the claim was plausible, sometimes not. But around '94 that straddling act somehow took an unusually serious tumble.

    Nationally, the campuses had been silent since the Gulf War in '91. Declining leisure time for financially strapped students conspired with a general mood of disorientation and retreat within the Left to make the familiar rhetoric of student activism appear not merely clichéd but downright bizarre. In that kind of vacuum there wasn't much for a "youth section" to do or say. By '94 it seemed that not even the pretense of continuity could be maintained. Fewer and fewer people showed up to our events, and those who did seldom contributed and almost never returned. Some of us ventured the diagnosis that the youth section was extinct, and urged our off-campus comrades to pay heed to a dead canary.

    But then, once again, something changed. On more than a hundred campuses, hope sprang from catastrophe when the Republican landslide of '94 drove thousands of students across the US to protest anti-immigrant measures along with the increasingly infamous Contract with America. Here at last was our new niche.

    And so, since '95, the youth section, now even younger than before, has been trying to fit in to the modest and sporadic (if not completely hopeless) situation of contemporary campus activism. In this, its latest renaissance, the YS has around two hundred active members. About ten percent of that two hundred showed up to the Chicago conference, representing Athens and Miami, Ohio; Harvard; NYU; University of California at San Bernadino; and a lonely high school somewhere in the darkest depths of Pennsylvania.

    Another surprise: Cornel West showed up, uninvited (although most certainly more than welcome) and unannounced. West arrived along with Harold Meyerson of the LA Weekly, Jo Ann Mort of Dissent, and Mildred Jeffrey, formerly of the United Auto Workers and once a kind of godmother to the Students for a Democratic Society. Among the first to greet West were Elliot Ratzman (Harvard DSA) and I. While Ratzman chatted casually with his former professor, I folded my arms to cover the obscenities printed on my t-shirt and wondered how best to use our guests in a conference as tiny and disorganized as our own.

    Soon a makeshift panel was convened to discuss the new prospects for the labor movement and how they might involve socialist activism on campus and beyond. I, for one, was not surprised that the best of the speeches came from Mildred Jeffrey, who generously and vividly related her own activism within the Old Left and throughout decades of the labor movement. She also provided a chilling portrait of sexism within the Left and a frank injunction against male-dominated leadership. Her presence made the difference between a discussion that was merely polite and one that was politely political.

    The conferences continued with workshops and open-ended strategy and discussion sessions. This fall the YS will start a national campaign for its chapters focusing on the theme "Radical Democracy vs. Corporate Power in the Global Economy". Also the youth section's journal The Activist will receive a makeover in layout, cover design, and content.

    Most surprising to this reporter were the fruits of a short resolution session. Namely, the YS today calls for the decriminalization of drugs, democratic revolution in Cuba, and (!) "critical support" of Clinton's re-election campaign.

    The Clinton resolution specifically attacked the decision of the National Political Committee to refuse to endorse Clinton, calling it a "disappointing and isolating gesture that will only further the popular misunderstanding of the US socialist movement." Hotly debated and only narrowly passed, the resolution was the obviously the most controversial of the afternoon. Some claimed that there are no real differences between Clinton and Dole. Others claimed that DSA gains nothing by identifying with the candidate responsible for NAFTA, Managed Competition, and "Welfare Reform". The majority argued that indeed the differences between Dole and Clinton do matter and that it would be irresponsible of DSA to do anything less than to bear witness and throw down against the greatest Rightward evil.

    In October the youth section will be holding a public conference in New York City, dovetailing the major labor conference sponsored by the AFL-CIO, which will feature an entire host of prominent Left academics and activists. Those interested should contact Kevin Pranis at DSA HQ in New York: (212) 727 8610.

    Despite its small numbers and unstable structure the YS remains one of DSA's most important projects and still counts as one of the most serious networks of campus activists in the US. So if you are in your teens or twenties and you are on the Left....give us a call. Judging by the Chicago Democratic Convention of '96, the spirits of '68 need whatever the help they can get.

     

    Summary of Youth Section Congress Resolutions

    Resolution on Cuba

    The resolution on Cuba calls for

    The resolution goes on to state:

    "The most important cause for American leftists interested in defending the interests of the Cuban people is the support of Cuba's dissident Left....

    "...DSA-YS welcomes increased interaction with progressive movements in Cuba's Young Communists, and hopes to help them in their efforts to reform their party. The YS will attempt to send a delegation to next summer's Student and Youth Festival in Havana, and, along with our sister IUSY parties, shall engage Cuba's young leaders in dialog."

     

    Resolution on Drug Legalization

    Calls for the decriminalization and regulation of drugs

     

    Resolution on North American Social Charter

     

    Resolution on the November Elections

    The resolution expressed disappointment over the DSA NPC's decision to not endorse Clinton, calling it "an isolating gesture which will only further popular misunderstandings of the U.S. socialist movement." The resolution urged instead that DSA adopt a position of "critical support" of Clinton.


    Chicago Needs a Living Wage: Excerpts From Ron Baiman's Testimony Before the City Council

    Dr. Ron Baiman, July 8, 1996

    Distinguished members of the Chicago City Council, thank you for allowing me to testify in support of the "Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance".

    My name is Ron Baiman. I am currently employed as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Roosevelt University in Chicago. My specialty is Microeconomics and policy analysis including the employment and income effects of public policy decisions. I previously worked as a policy analyst for the New York State Dept. of Economic Development and as an Econometrician for AT&T.

    I would like to make three major points.

    I) Local Moderate Wage Floors Do not Cause Unemployment.

    First, contrary to what the authors of the RCF study (which the city funded and is relying upon in its estimates of dire consequences from the ordinance) claim, the economic evidence since the mid-80's is that a moderate rise in minimum wages, such as from $4.24 to $5.00 or $6.00 dollars, will not increase immediate or future unemployment. Most studies in the 80's have reached this conclusion and I'd be glad to supply references to those who want them. Again contrary to the statement by the authors that: "... the consensus among economists is that employment declines when the minimum wage is raised" (p. 18)

    I would submit that such a "consensus" probably only exists at the University of Chicago! In fact, on Oct. 2, 1995, 101 prominent economists including three Nobel winners, from virtually all of the major research universities around the country, except rather glaringly the University of Chicago, signed a statement saying that: "... the minimum wage can be increased by a moderate amount without significantly jeopardizing employment opportunities". I have the list for those who are interested.

    In particular the Wascher and Neumark study cited by the authors has been disputed because of its reliance on a database supplied by a research organization funded by manufacturers, restaurants, and retailers, (the Employment Policy Institute) who have a major stake in the research outcome - a database which has not been released to the public in spite of assurances to do so. Data collected independently by the authors themselves as well as by other researchers indicates no adverse employment growth effect (let alone an actual decline in employment!) from the 1992 increase in the NJ minimum wage - again I would be glad to supply references.

    This minimum wage evidence is relevant to the ordinance for the following reasons:

    a) The effective increase in wages due to the ordinance would be from an average of (at least) $5.90 to $7.60 (or a 29% increase), and not a 79% increase from $4.25 to $7.60 as represented by the authors. Moreover, this RCF figure is most likely an overestimate, as the Federal minimum appears likely to increase to $5.15 in the near future, as the methodology of the RCF study is seriously flawed (more on this below) and most likely underestimates the current wages of workers who will be effected by the ordinance, and as the wage and effected worker data from the RCF study indicates a much more significant wage (and employment) impact than other studies. In any case even a 29% increase would be within the bounds of a moderate local increase in minimum wages such as that investigated in minimum wage studies which have investigated increases from $4.25 to $5.00 through $6.00 (or from 18% to 41%).

    b) Service providers and contractors to the city or to city run facilities like the airports, cannot leave Chicago and/or reduce the scale of their operations in the city or at city owned facilities without suffering significant revenue losses, unlike many of the firms covered by (state and not federal as the RCF report suggests on p. 19) minimum wage law changes.

    c) Unlike the minimum wage laws the ordinance exempts small for-profit firms with fewer than 25 employees or who receive less than $50,000 in benefits which are the vast majority of firms receiving benefits. Larger manufacturing firms which benefit from city subsidies are likely to have a smaller share of labor costs (generally under 50%) and particularly a lower share of low wage workers (generally under 10% of all workers) so that the ordinance will have a much smaller relative cost impact on them.

    All this implies that there is no justification based on existing empirical data from minimum wage increases for the authors to assume that the ordinance will cause any reduction in employment growth let alone the 1,337 job losses....

    II) In Addition to Providing Substantial Income Increases for Effected Workers The Chicago Living Wage Ordinance is Likely to Increase Overall Employment in the City.

    This is because, unlike the case with minimum wage increases, the City can use its market power and discretionary funding power to prevent staff reductions by employers who are most effected and force other employers to absorb the cost which would substantially reduce the supply side cost effect of the Ordinance. This is already partially achieved by the alluded to exemptions for small business and cost mandates for social service non-profits included in the Ordinance itself. Given this relative suppression of the supply side cost effect and the fact that ... the cost and demand side effects of moderate local raises are generally about in balance, in this case the demand side multiplier effect is likely to more than offset the cost side employment suppression effect resulting in significant net employment gains in employment growth as a result of the Ordinance.

    This conclusion is closely tied to ... major methodological flaws with the RCF report which imply that its predictions regarding the effects of the Ordinance are hopelessly in error....

    III) The Ordinance Represents an Excellent Local Economic Development Policy at a Very Small Cost which Could Easily Be Absorbed by the City without any Tax Increases Given Different Spending Priorities.

    The $34.535 million required additional spending figure estimated by the RCF study is highly inflated as it includes:

    a) $15.620 million in dollar for dollar expenditure to prevent supposed layoffs from Contractors and Delegate Agencies which are derived from an erroneous sample, use inflated and misestimated employment loss figures, and in addition erroneously (except for social service delegate agencies for whom the Ordinance mandates that the city must absorb the cost) assume that the City has no bargaining power vis a vis these employers and must absorb the full cost of the Ordinance if layoffs and/or service cuts are to be avoided.

    b) An (undocumented in the report) estimated $4.210 million for "additional administrative costs resulting from the bureaucratic requirements to monitor and enforce the ordinance" (p. 35) in spite of the fact that the City has little information on its existing economic development programs and so would appear to spend rather little on their "monitoring and administration", and that one of the advantages of a "Living Wage Ordinance" is that it is generally simpler and easier to monitor and administer a wage floor than other special grant, loan, and tax concession development subsidies. In the absence of much "monitoring" of development programs which appears to be the current situation, the "administrative costs" of the ordinance would appear to be very slight, mostly a matter of disseminating information on the new wage floor to city agencies and contractors. In any case, if $4.210 million were actually spent on monitoring (which I would not necessarily object to, especially if the monitors could also enforce other city occupation related ordinances as well) one would expect this to create a fair number of additional new jobs!

    c) And finally, a last component of (undocumented in the report) $14.705 million of additional costs to other City agencies which far exceeds the amount estimated in the Center for Economic Policy Analysis (CEPA) report.

    This is implies that direct costs to the city are likely to much lower than those estimated in this report. Instead they are more likely to be closer to the CPEA value of $10-12 million and that the ordinance is more likely to increase employment growth rather than induce employment losses.

    The bottom line here is an issue of priorities. Even this worst case cost estimate is a small sum to pay for a measure which directly addresses the most fundamental problem of urban America. We all know that cities are in crisis in America. We also know that the most important reasons for our urban problems are poverty and racism.

    Contrary to the statement of the authors of the RCF study that: "...The primary cause of poverty is lack of full-time work not low wages.", the ... income polarization and extremely high poverty rate in the U.S. cannot be attributed to unemployment, as the U.S. currently enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates and highest poverty rates among advanced countries. Just in the last couple of weeks two reports have been released reconfirming that income and wealth disparities in the U.S. have reached their highest levels since WW II.

    The concentration of poverty is especially acute in Chicago, which contains some of the poorest census tracts in the country according to a recent study by a Roosevelt University demographer.

    This urban concentration of poverty results in large measure from the effects of a history of geographically discriminatory policies. Chicago in particular has lost thousands of high-paid industrial jobs in the last few decades. The proportion of America's poor living in cities has grown from 30% in 1968, to 37% in 1979, to 43% in 1990 (and urban-like near-city suburbs account for a large part of the remaining share of the poor). In 1960 the per capital income of cities was 5% higher than that of surrounding suburbs. In 1989 it was 16% lower.

    Yes, we should have a national and international "living-wage" requirement, but in the absence of achieving this do we should not do nothing. I believe that government can and must send a message that we cannot continue to tolerate the unjust "low-road" wage strategy of the American private sector. At least in government we have a voice in what we believe is fair and just, and we should use it. Chicago is not the first locality to contemplate such an ordinance. Baltimore, Milwaukee, and other localities have passed "living wage ordinances" and the sky has not fallen in.

    Why is it that the city can afford to spend $27 million ... to create another lake side park at Megs Field, but when it comes to something that directly impacts the most needy residents and has important economic spin-off benefits for poor and minority residents in outlying neighborhoods, as opposed to further beautification of the Loop, or South Loop, there's no money? How is it that the city can continue to afford to concentrate resources on downtown renovation which benefits mostly wealthy urbanites and suburbanites (even where there appears to be no pressing need) and then claim that it cannot afford even a marginal expenditure (equal to 3/4 of 1% of total city expenditures under this worst case scenario) which directly benefits mostly poor and minority outlying neighborhoods?

    Passage of "The Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance" would provide important economic development benefits to the City of Chicago. This is a modest but efficient "bottom up" economic development policy in terms of providing benefits where they can have the most impact and requiring very little oversight and monitoring, which can be pursued (in moderation) locally to the short-term and long-term benefit of the City's economy and its people.


    Chicago Conference on Ethics and Meaning

    By Stan Rosen

    The Chicago Summit for Ethics and Meaning was held August 25 - 26 at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. It was exciting, provocative, problematical and, overall, of great importance to democratic socialists as they seek to develop a meaningful program.

    The conference was attended by over 200 persons. Close to 300 attended a Sunday night panel, "From Counterculture to Caring Community"; this panel featured political activists related to the 1968 Democratic Convention. The conference was one of over six regional conferences that were an outgrowth of the Washington Summit held earlier this year.

    The positive energies of the conference were driven by the 60 local volunteers who planned, promoted and facilitated the conference.

    Seven years ago, I attended a Tikkun Conference where the basic ideas were presented by Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel. This conference was different in many ways. First, in the interim there has been an attempt to include union leaders and democratic socialists as a more prominent part of the program. DSA. Members Cornel West and Rosemary Reuther played important roles in presenting the relationship between traditional democratic socialist analysis and the focus of the conference. While not uncritical, they responded creatively and sympathetically to the focus of the conference. The Union Label appeared on the conference program.

    The conference included dialogues (workshops) that explored, in an open way, what is being done to bring ethics and meaning to community and government, the family, gender issues, the workplace, education, health care, and the environment. Several of these panels reflected the work of continuing study groups seeking to address issues and develop programs over time.

    The conferences did reflect a certain fundamental weaknesses of an approach that is narrowly psychological and that sidesteps, in a fundamental way, the realities of power politics in a capitalist dominated society, i.e., the need for structural change.

    Rosemary Reuther, a DSA member, partly and constructively countered the limited focus of ethics and meaning. She noted that

    "The very idea that any alternative economic or political system might actually be devised that could be better, more just, more democratic, has been driven off the map of public discourse. A left not only doesn't exist in America, it is declared obsolete everywhere. Neo-liberal capitalism reigns as the natural law, with endless assurances by its high priests that eventually its rising tides will lift every boat, although all evidence points to the growing gap between a small wealthy elite and the growing masses of the poor in this country and around the world."

    Cornel West, another DSA member, dynamic, colorful and articulate, pointed out that an examination of social indicators shows that conditions in America and in Chicago are worse than they were in 1968; dramatic institutional changes are needed. The student movement of 1968 is lacking today. He also spoke warmly and positively of the efforts of Michael Lerner and the important insights of this new ethics and meaning movement. Only through a synthesis of both the traditional economic analysis and these new ideas can we achieve our goals for a more economically equitable, more caring, humane and racist- and sexist- free society.

    In the orational style of Eugene Victor Debs, Joe Uehlien, the newly elected Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department and yet another DSA member, spoke in cautiously optimistic terms about the new changes and possibilities under the new leadership of John Sweeney. He admitted that unions had focused too much on the necessary but insufficient issues of wages, hours and working conditions. He agreed that in many cases labor and the left had abdicated ethical and moral issues to the political Right. He cited recent union negotiations on day care as examples of benefits that reach new workers and allies. He noted his excitement at serving on the Executive Board of the Foundation for Ethics and Meaning as an official representative of the labor movement.

    In response to a question about the Democratic Party, Joe Uehlien noted both parties were divisions of the party of corporate interest. We need to begin to think about alternatives. He represents a breath of fresh air, exemplifying the new, more open and progressive labor leadership presently emerging.

    Always rather telling to me, DSA spokespersons were never introduced as DSA activists, and it was never mentioned in their presentations. I also noted the lack of DSA attendees.

    This is an important movement, closely allied in spirit to Democratic Socialism, and it deserves both our support and our constructive input and criticism.

    The Foundation on Ethics and Meaning in Chicago can be contacted % Services Marketing Group, 8 S. Michigan Ave, Ste 2500, Chicago, IL 60603.


    Chicago Police Raid Anarchist Headquarters As President Addresses Convention

    CHICAGO (CounterMedia Press Release)- As President Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention tonight, Chicago police raided the site of Active Resistance, a counter-convention conference organized by the local activist group, Autonomous Zone.

    At approximately 8:00pm on August 29, numerous police vans gathered in the street. Uniformed officers forced their way into the building at 2010 W. Carroll, which has served as a central meeting site for the conference. Several conference participants were pepper-sprayed; two were hospitalized. Officers reportedly searched through personal belongings and confiscated radio equipment and papers from the site. Conference participants report that when they asked to see a search warrant, officers told them a search warrant wasn't necessary. No arrests have been reported.

    As officers entered from the back of the building, they ordered conference participants there to sit down. Those who did not sit down were pushed down. One officer threatened to push a woman down the back stairs of the building. Conference participant Lynn Harrington was kicked and, when she asked officers "what are you doing?," was pepper-sprayed in the face at close range. Conference participants report that they repeatedly requested a search warrant and officers' badge numbers, but were not provided with either. Participants were told they were not being arrested or detained. But when one woman and her three year-old son asked if they could leave, officers denied them permission. On their way out, officers reportedly pepper-sprayed participants indiscriminately. Conference participant Alex Berkman was sprayed repeatedly at close range and was hospitalized.

    Police vans then proceeded to another Active Resistance meeting site at 343 N. Western. By the time officers arrived at the second site, counter-convention participants had already removed their belongings and evacuated the building.

    Active Resistance has been host to over 700 activists from throughout North America and Europe who came to Chicago to attend workshops and discussion groups on issues ranging from community organizing to alternative economics. Conference participants also organized today's Festival of the Oppressed, a peaceful street-theater procession with costumes and colorful puppets made by participants during the week.

    The police raids this evening come at the end of a day of 14 arrests of activists and independent media makers. Eight conference participants were arrested at the Festival of the Oppressed procession, including the parade's traffic safety coordinator. Six videographers working with CounterMedia, a coalition of alternative media makers, were arrested while covering the procession. Their cameras were confiscated and some of their film was destroyed by arresting officers. Videographer Jeff Perlstein, who was arrested earlier in the week and participated in CounterMedia's press conference this morning addressing police harassment of independent media, was arrested again this afternoon. He reports witnessing an officer smash his camera on the ground.


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