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New Ground 70

May - June, 2000


  • A16: Direct Action Against the IMF - WTO by Ben Doherty
  • Reclaiming May Day by Bob Roman
  • Stalking Corporate Globalization by Ron Baiman
  • The Fightback by Joan Axthelm
  • Comments & Opinions: More Fallout from Kosovo by Harold Taggart
  • Fear and Loathing in D.C. by Harold Taggart
  • Rally Against Hate by Gene Birmingham
  • Mumia March by Harold Taggart
  • News Letters compiled by Bob Roman
  • Membership Convention
    Anti-Sweatshop Movement
    May Day Direct Action
    No More Prisons
    Debs Centennial
    NAFTA for Africa
    Smokey for President!

    A16: Direct Action Against the IMF - WTO

    by Ben Doherty

    The Wall Street Journal called us "global village idiots." James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank Group, called us "ill advised." Even some of our own comrades on the Left and within DSA itself believe that those of us who participated in the media spectacle called A16 are anything from silly, middle-class, privileged kids to dangerously misguided and disorganized fools.

    Let me relieve you of any of your misapprehensions.

    I scheduled a week of vacation from my job and boarded a plane to Washington National Airport on Tuesday. I had arranged for a place to stay with some women I had never met before: Lindsay, an ex-Chicagoan who was active in the movement to bring anti-racist politics and thinking to Chicago's queer activist communities, and Alexis. After a quick ride on DC's impressive public transport system, I arrived at their home in Columbia Heights, a racially and economically mixed neighborhood undergoing gentrification, a few miles directly north of the White House. I would be on my own for the beginning of my visit; Robyn and Charity, my comrades from Chicago, would arrive later in the week.

    It took just a few moments before I realized that my host lived at the organizational epicenter of activities for the week. The Mobilization for Global Justice's Convergence Center was a short walk (past the pack of television cameras that faced the door of the Cuban Interest Section on 16th Street NW) as were the other venues for the weeks events.

    During the first few days of my visit to Washington, DC, I surveyed my options and the city. I attended a variety of educational workshops: the World Bank Bond boycott, third-world women's activism against the IMF and World Bank, the bourgeois and worker's histories of the two institutions, women activists in the third-world and the impact of structural adjustment programs on women.

    These were just the events I attended; there was no shortage of opportunities to become enlightened on the devastating effects of structural adjustment policies, liberalism, and political economy in general and in specific. Various organizations from ACT UP to local DC Universities hosted well-attended day-long teach-ins, conferences, and panel discussions. Local DC community organizations even joined in the efforts by inviting the visiting activists to their ward and ethnic community forums that coincided with the week of activities. Officials from the IMF and World Bank had even agreed to a public debate against our own forces of truth and right. At the same time, the Mobilization's Convergence Center offered a different array of possibilities: daily trainings in non-violence, jail solidarity, blockades, legal and medical support with special sessions to deal with issues of gender, race, and legal status.

    Throughout the week, I wandered the city and bumped into more than a chance handful of comrades from Chicago, some of whom I had never met before and who lived in my own neighborhood of Uptown.

    On Thursday, the frenzied atmosphere of the District really began to take hold of the residents and the increasing numbers of protesters. I spent the morning with Harold Taggart at the weekly audience our fine Illinois senators grant their constituents. Unfortunately, the senators spent that morning pandering to schoolchildren who asked standard "provocative" questions that received less than provocative answers and avoiding questions from the herd of Steelworkers who also filled the overcrowded room.

    Later, after breakfast, I happened upon a small but noisy rebellion against Starbucks at one of their shops on a corner in Dupont Circle. The crowd of activists, young and old, overflowed onto the street and gathered many stares and comments from passers-by. Throughout the rest of the day, I rode the trains around the city and continuously bumped into people who had just arrived in town for the weekend's protests.

    Thursday night, I secured my agenda for the remainder of my visit when I attended the nightly "spokescouncil" meeting. These meetings had been occurring for the previous five evenings, but I had foregone attending them because I was still unsure of my readiness to participate in the planned actions. I was afraid that I would be letting myself down if I missed out on this opportunity and instead merely attended the legal rally on Sunday. However, everyone I met who sought to participate in the action appeared to be much more prepared for the possibility of arrest and more organized in that they were already in affinity groups. I, on the other hand, would necessarily neglect my supervisory obligations at work if I were arrested and I hadn't any idea of how to form an affinity group.

    The spokescouncil meeting was unlike anything I had ever seen. Hundreds of people filled the sanctuary of a local church. Anyone except the media was allowed to attend, but only "empowered spokes" one person from each affinity group who wore a flashy paper party hat were allowed to speak.

    After a few opening remarks and triumphant protest songs, the facilitator, a woman named Starhawk, led an exercise where people stood up and yelled out their vision of victory for the action on Sunday. An impressive array arose from the crowd. Many activists said that they wished to shut the meetings down, a very tangible goal. Several others wanted respectable mainstream media coverage. Some prayed for our own safety and sanity. Many hoped that we could set an example for others who would seek us out and join us to participate in similar, upcoming actions. The most memorable vision came from one woman who stood up and said that she hoped that the people of the world would see that Americans are willing to put their privilege on the line and stand with them to resist injustice, violence, and poverty.

    The facilitators began to describe the scenario for Sunday as it was currently conceived. The map of the city surrounding the IMF and World Bank buildings was divided into over a dozen "pie slices." Affinity groups would choose to either secure a slice of the pie or to be a "flying squad," meaning that the affinity group would float around the protest area at its own directive. The planning committee had designated four meeting places where the incoming busloads from around the country would drop their loads to disseminate throughout the area. The DC cops had taken it upon themselves to assist us in shutting down the city on Sunday and Monday mornings by erecting barricades around our target buildings. The plan appeared to be that we should confront the police at their barricades. However, at the time, all of this seemed very perplexing.

    Fortunately, the facilitators interrupted the meeting so that new people could break out and form affinity groups. Still unsure of myself, I went with the flow and found myself in a room of activists. Many were more unsure and confused by the terminology and the scenario than I was. A man from the Mobilization assisted us in deciding what sort of affinity group each of us would like to be in based on the amount of risk we wished to take and what sort of experience we had.

    My affinity group ended up consisting of a random bunch: an Israeli environmental activist and member of Hadash, three local high school students, a Canadian, a documentary filmmaker, Alexis, Robyn, and Charity. We would meet again the following day at the local office of Friends of the Earth. After the spokescouncil meeting adjourned, the Israeli environmentalist got me drunk on tequila and we mused for a few hours on the problems of the American Left and the failings of the Mid-East peace process.

    The next evening Friday I spent in still more planning meetings. I was operating on little sleep and no time to eat, so my momentum came only from the promise of excitement on Sunday. The spokescouncil meeting had increased dramatically in size such that people stood in stairwells, looked in from outside through the windows, and crowded onto the balcony and stage of the church's sanctuary. The agenda was similar to Thursday evening's meeting, but with more detail. As a representative of a new affinity group, I was required to choose what our task would be during the action. We had decided earlier to be part of a blockade, so we joined in a pie spoke cluster which already contained just about a dozen other affinity groups. Of course, the cluster required yet another meeting as well, which lasted until 1 o'clock Saturday morning.

    Saturday began with a fright. I woke up and found that the Convergence Center had been raided and shut down by the DC police. Apparently, the cops had a bundle of rags and a can of paint thinner with Molotov Cocktails and vegan vegetable soup with pepper spray. Within an hour, the organizers had opened a new center, but all of their supplies, puppets, and cooking materials were still locked up in the old center. Later in the day, the lawyers for the Mobilization were able to have the puppets released from their captivity. However, discouragement had affected some members of our affinity group and we lost three members to paranoia and rumors of planned violence on Sunday.

    On Sunday, our affinity group met at 20th and I Streets NW at 6 a.m. When we arrived, I could see a small line of people stretched across the intersection. I ran to join them. Just as we were locked arm in arm, a fleet of police motorcycles and a cruiser came speeding right up to us. The motorcycles were able to get around us, but the cruiser had to turn away. In just a few more minutes, hundreds of other people arrived on the scene and we moved a block south to face the police barricade at 20th and Pennsylvania. There we remained for the next eight hours as we prevented delegates, media, police, and even an angry resident who just wanted to take his Burger King meal home with him from crossing through our line.

    All possibilities of fear were taken away, and so was all boredom nixed. For eight hours, we were audience to impromptu percussion outfits and jazz ensembles, radical anti-capitalist lesbian cheerleaders, street theater, and parades full of puppets. We gave interviews to media while we loudly called out people in the crowd who looked like potential delegates who might want to cross our line. Everyone who passed by us commented that we were doing a great job. A family of tourists snapped our pictures and shook our hands. Some bystanders claimed to envy us in our collective power and dedication; two even joined us.

    Around 10 a.m., we learned that we had not been successful in stopping the meetings but that some delegates had been unable to pass through our barricades. Our blockade had to make a decision: would we abandon our line? A roving gang of black-bloc anarchists confronted us and reminded us that we were not alone. Just a block away at 21st and Pennsylvania, many activists were locked to each other. If we were to leave, they would be more susceptible to police violence. At that point, our decision was simple: we held our blockade in solidarity until they were finished. At 2 p.m. and with vicious sunburns and bloated bladders, we abandoned our line and returned to dull reality.

    Reclaiming May Day

    by Bob Roman

    As befits a city on the edge of the plains, Chicago's May Day was a sprawling event, underpopulated for the space it occupied, but noisy, fun, educational at times, and possibly even politically relevant.

    The events began to be planned soon after the Battle in Seattle. Though "planning" is a loose description of the process where there were a multitude of socialist, anarchist, communist and religious cooks throwing vegetables and tofu into the stew and frequently at each other. Tasks were accomplished whenever an individual was inspired to move, not infrequently far too late to be very effective. Yet, come May Day, it happened. It is a wonderful thing that such a bumblebee could fly. That it flew so well may be a sign of the times.

    Chicago DSA and Chicago DSA members were among the significant players in this "conspiracy", along with the Open University of the Left, the HotHouse, Hammerhard MediaWorks, Eighth Day Center for Justice, Art and Revolution, Jobs with Justice, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Pueblo sin Fronteras, Chicago Greens, SEIU, AFSC and the Illinois Labor History Society, to name just a few of the 45 participating organizations. One often heard speculation about the Chicago Police Department as being among the informal participants in the planning process.

    Educational and fundraising activities preceded the main event. The Open University of the Left organized a series of five panels addressing, in various ways, the question typically posed to protestants: if you don't like this system, what would you replace it with? Four of these were held at Loyola's near north campus on Saturday, April 29th. A fifth was held on Chicago's near south side, at the HotHouse on Sunday afternoon, April 30th, followed by a highly successful fundraising party at the same location. Some of these events were sparsely attended indeed while others had quite an audience.

    May Day dawned, warm and rainy, with some 200 demonstrators outside Chicago's Board of Trade. This was originally planned as the start of a morning of civil disobedience and as such it attracted the full attention of the news media. Anarchists and journalists were crestfallen that it went no further than being a large, noisy picket line, but this did mean that journalists had to at least mention the issues presented by the demonstrators.

    The main event was three noontime marches which all came together for a 1 PM rally at Tribune Tower on Chicago's near north side. Chicago DSA joined the largest of the three, which approximated the route of the "original" May Day march (historian Bill Adelman confided that they were unable to establish the exact route) up Michigan Avenue.

    The major theme of the Michigan Avenue march was to have been support for the Day Laborers Organizing Project. In fact, aside from a stop at the Art Institute in support of SEIU's organizing efforts there, it was difficult to discern any particular message; the march was a potpourri of protest, puppets, ideology and plumage.

    Some 700 participants danced and shuffled their way up a rainy Michigan Avenue to the Tribune Tower, where they were joined by several hundred marchers from Chicago's west side Puerto Rican and Mexican communities. The rally at the Tribune Tower was an ending for May Day 2000 in Chicago, not a period but an ellipsis, which was followed by another rally that afternoon in Chicago's Loop, which will be followed by


    Stalking Corporate Globalization

    by Ron Baiman

    The 42nd Annual Debs-Thomas- Harrington Dinner, held in the ornate ball room of the Congress Hotel in Chicago on May 5, was moderated by William McNary of U.S. Action and Illinois Citizen Action, and dedicated to honoring Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky with the annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner award. The dinner was as usual, inspiring, exhilarating, and fun, but this time, also serious and thoughtful.

    Speaking Truth With Passion

    Bill McNary is a man whose ability to rouse a crowd and speak the truth is second to none. He set an upbeat and militant mood with a joke about the cheese lobby trying to include cheese in the communion through extravagant financial "contributions". He noted the just breaking news of the tremendous victory of the Northwest Suburban "Justice for Janitors" campaign.

    Bill's energetic and passionate oratory was matched by Carl Shier's heartfelt introduction to Jan Schakowsky. He noted her long history of unbending and principled leadership for progressive causes and her renown organizing skills which allowed her prevail in the race for the 9th District seat in Congress.

    Start Winning!

    The much loved and venerated (by progressives!) Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky next accepted the award with great emotion and thanked some of the important people in her life many of them past awardees for working with her on her chosen path. Jan noted how she is trying to exploit her "nugget of power" as much as possible, most recently by helping to move Democratic Party debate on prescription drugs costs in the direction of price controls rather than toward more "business friendly" (and ineffective) policies. Her rallying cry for the evening was that: "Progressives need to stop whining and start winning!"

    DSA in Action

    In his remarks, DSA's National Director, Horace Small, built further on this theme by stressing that "the new DSA is not the old one" in that the new one is much more committed and serious about activism. He cited the leading role that the "new DSA" played in the Washington anti-IMF/World Bank demonstrations. This included bringing more than 300 people to DC and his serving as co-chair, with Michael Moore, of the main teach-in rally before the demonstrations which was broadcast on C-Span and received other press coverage.

    Fighting Back

    The featured speaker at the dinner was Harold Meyerson, editor of the LA Weekly, prolific writer for Dissent and other left media, DSA strategist and visionary, and one of the foremost political commentators on the left. Meyerson gave a talk which, in the best tradition of democratic socialism, was unlike a typical (non-democratic socialist!) post awards dinner talk deep, serious, and intensely thought provoking and engaging. This was a serous discussion of the burning issue of our times to which the dinner was dedicated: "Fighting Back: Building the New Movement Against Corporate Greed and Globalization."

    He started with a description of his recent experiences in Seattle and with the Justice for Janitor's strike in L.A., claiming that both represented a turning point that they dramatically increased public awareness of the magnitude and dimensions of the fight against capital and global capital. He highlighted in particular his astonishment at watching on-lookers in Beverly Hills spontaneously contribute cash to "Justice for Janitors" demonstrators as they marched through their neighborhood.

    In the case of the "Justice for Janitors Campaign", he noted that the "solution" was clear and straightforward: recognize the union and raise wages and benefits for the janitors. However, he claimed that in the struggle against corporate globalization, the movement knows more about what it is against than what it is for. For example we are clearly against plant closings and 20% and then 40% reductions in living standards in already desperately poor countries like Indonesia, because of an IMF restructuring program, but is not so clear what we are for.

    Meyerson noted that some on the left (Corn and Cooper in The Nation) have set a two year "deadline" for the movement against "free trade" to have definable goals. He contended that the problem is deeper than just setting goals, saying that the left needs to provide an in-depth analysis and find models and workable reforms with which to even grapple with and understand the brave new world of corporate globalization. He cited in particular, the work of Jane D'Arista, of the Economic Policy Institute and University of Boston, who has outlined a plan for a "democratic Federal Reserve" for the world in which rich nations would have half the votes and the most populist poor nations the other half. Meyerson noted that this was structured much like Michael Harrington's proposal for a global "Economic Security Council" outlined in his last book: Socialism Past and Future.

    On a more concrete institutional level, Meyerson claimed that two institutions standout as "Archimedean points" of leverage for organizing for a more democratic and just world economic order. The first is the European Union, which for all of its failings, is a multinational body which has attempted to set politically-based (as opposed to market-imposed) standards for worker rights, and other environmental and social programs, which "level up". This effort is in contrast to the exclusively commercial and property rights "leveling down" focus of the WTO, for example.

    The Ghost of Michael Harrington

    Meyerson's second key organization was more surprising. He drew an historical analogy to the role of the early railroad and steel unions in the U.S. which were the first national organizations to oppose the already national (and not local or state) power of the large corporations at a time when federal governance was minimal. Like these early U.S. industrial unions, Meyerson claims that the U.S. AFL-CIO has emerged as one of the strongest supporters of international labor standards. This he attributes to the earlier and more extensive experience of the U.S. labor movement with the devastating impact of "free trade" policies (most notably NAFTA). A "free trade" impact which European Unions, for example, are just now beginning to experience.

    He also cited John Sweeny's comments to the "biggest players" (overwhelmingly corporate and rich-country, lobbyists and representatives) at the neo-liberal international economics confab at Davos, Switzerland. In this forum Sweeny has come out in direct opposition to the neo-liberal agenda, stating that: "A world organized solely as a market cannot and should not survive."

    Meyerson concluded his remarks by claiming that the new AFL-CIO is really a "Harringtonite" institution in that it has recognized the importance of broad coalitions with other progressive constituencies and the need for global social-democracy if not democratic socialism. Perhaps we have indeed come full circle with John Sweeney's DSA membership!

    In any case few could argue that Meyerson's remarks were not thoughtful and directed to the critical issue of our times: How do we face the brave new world of global capital? His notion that we in DSA may be on the programmatic and ideological cutting edge of this battle conveyed the sense that once again history is moving in our direction (though not in the classic Marxist sense yet!) and was certainly invigorating for those of us who would dare to believe this.

    The dinner ended with the usual chorus of "Solidarity Forever", but I dare say that the guests who remained to the end of Meyerson's lengthy address were more taken by the thoughts of the evening than by the quality of the singing!

    Author's Note

    An excellent recent reference on neo-liberalism is Arthur MacEwan's Neo-Liberalism or Democarcy: Economic Strategy, Markets, and Alternatives for the 21st Century (New York: Zed Press, 2000).

    The Fightback

    By Joan Axthelm

    It happened in April, just prior to the marches protesting the International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington, DC (in activist lingo, "A16"). About 120 students and youth gathered for a conference, "The Fightback - Students, Labor, and the Corporate Economy", hosted by the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) and the University of Delaware Student Labor Action Coalition (UDSLAC). The sponsors of the Fightback were: Center for Campus Organizing, 180/Movement for Democracy in Education, Student Alliance for the Reform in Corporations (STARC), Student Environmental Action Coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, Prison Moratorium Project, Student Labor Action Project, Student Peace Action Network, and Students United for a Responsible Global Environment. While the largest contingents came from the Midwest and New York State, participants came from all over the US, as well as Canada, Mexico and Sweden.

    What was remarkable about this conference was that these young activists weren't coming to hear Manning Marable, Noam Chomsky, Barabara Ehrenreich or other lefty icons, but to listen to and learn from each other. The activists at the Fightback were there to get informed about campaigns students and youth are leading. They wanted to have conversations about how to better work together, stay informed, and think about what kind of priorities the youth & student movement should have. Rather than just another clearinghouse of information by a number of different organizations, the Fightback was a conference for youth and student activists by youth and student activists to network, learn, and strategize.

    The Fightback had its beginnings in conversations between YDS and other national youth organizations, such as the Students in Alliance to Reform Corporations (STARC), 180/Movement for Democracy in Education (180/MDE) and the Center for Campus Organizing. These organizations worried that while students are expected to become part of mass mobilizations and to find ways to rally for progress and change, little has been done to ensure that youth organizations are themselves educated and trained or have a promise of existing for more than five years. Most youth organizations receive attention and funds when first starting out, but in many instances, as time goes on and other new projects develop, the attention and funds dwindle and the networks and infrastructure that were so carefully (and sometimes not so carefully) built come tumbling down. New organizations are built in their place, but most often without the knowledge of the successes and failures of youth organizations before them. Rather than building upon our history of youth activism and politics, the wheel is re-invented and old knowledge and networks are lost.

    The Young Democratic Socialists (and its predecessors) is the exception to this rule, fortunately, because of the long-standing support of the DSA and its predecessors. With this support, the organization is able to keep on staff a youth organizer, which is invaluable to the life and organization of a national youth group. The DSA support also allows YDS to have some institutional memory in past publications, Coordinating Committee and Conference notes, and, of course, from the membership that goes on to be the supporters of YDS as they themselves were once supported. Most importantly, because of the autonomy given to YDS, it is able to be a real youth organization that makes its own mistakes, celebrates its own successes, and has its own decision-making system that teaches leadership and organizational skills while enjoying the support of DSA. Most youth organizations don't have these luxuries. This is perhaps why YDS was integral to the formation of the Fightback.

    The conference was held at the University of Delaware, just an hour and a half from Washington, DC, and lasted for the Friday and Saturday before the Anti-IMF rallies. Transportation was arranged for the attendees to go down to Washington, DC on Sunday and non-violence training was provided for those who were interested in direct action. Participants had a range of workshops and plenary sessions to choose from. These were generally hosted by youth activists engaged in the topic at hand. The topics covered included the new opportunities for student labor alliances, the politics of immigration, socialist feminism, environmental racism, democratizing the university, the prison industrial complex, racism within and outside the movement, anti-sweatshop work and the global economy, and many more.

    Most important, however, was the chance to break out into small groups and then, finally as a complete group, discuss the issues learned about in the workshops and plenary sessions, what it is to be a youth activist, and what can we do to make sure others have that opportunity. The international students - from YDS's sister organizations in Sweden, Mexico and Canada - added an important perspective to these questions. In the break-out sessions, participants answered questions like, "How do we work better as a movement?", "What should our relationships to unions and non-governmental organizations be like?" and "What issues should be a priority for the student movement?" Some answers focused on what a student movement would look like and whether the US has a coherent one, the diversity of ideologies encompassed in student activism, and the need to keep a bottom-up decision making process available to everyone. The discussion also touched on the ways that corporate globalization has united many causes and the need to look at our past to help us find ways to our future.

    In sum, the conference was a great success. It was able to bring students from far and wide to meet, discuss, and learn from each other and it was done in a context of democratic socialism. Many who attended were able to see democratic socialism for what it is and liked it. Sadly, not as many student movement leaders were in attendance as expected - drawn away to the DC pre-protest activities organized by big NGO's - a common problem faced by the student movement (we go to adult organizational events, but don't support our own). But the students and youth who did attend took the questions and information posed seriously. While not a pivotal point in the history of the student movement, the Fightback contributed to its continuing growth.

    Special thanks is given to the Chicago DSA for its generous contributions as a local and as individuals. Your help made much of the conference possible. A report of the conference is in the works and should be ready for distribution by the end of the summer.

    More Fallout from the War in Kosovo

    By Harold Taggart

    General Wesley Clark, the general who commanded NATO forces during the Kosovo War, took an early retirement. He stepped down under a cloud of controversy. The war that was acclaimed as a turning point in how war is fought demonstrated that wars could be won by air power alone, U.S. leaders had bragged. In reality, the war was fraught with fraudulent claims of successes. General Clark has been chosen as the scapegoat.

    In the March-April 2000 issue of New Ground, we reported that the genocide of Kosovar Albanians was grossly exaggerated. We also reported that the "accidental" bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was no accident. Now Newsweek Magazine (May 15, 2000 issue) in a story titled "The Kosovo Cover-up" reported that the Serb army suffered little damage. This contradicts the claim by Secretary of Defense William Cohen that Serb forces in Kosovo had been severely crippled. For instance, Newsweek reported that about 14 tanks had been destroyed. NATO had claimed 120 were destroyed. Striking safely from 15,000 feet, NATO planes destroyed far more farm wagons with a limb mounted on them than they did tanks. The same discrepancy applied to artillery pieces and armored vehicles. A decoy bridge was destroyed numerous times.

    In this "most successful air campaign ever," billions of dollars were wasted, the stockpile of Cruise Missiles nearly depleted and NATO "won" what the Serbs had offered before the war began. The Serbian military was not defeated. The Serbian and Kosovar citizens were defeated.

    Frequent conflicts and wars, valid or invalid, are necessary to justify the huge expenditures allotted to the U.S. military. This is done even though there is no enemy that could launch a conventional war against our homeland. What we have to fear most is terrorist attacks. Our frequent, baseless conflicts and wars create the anti-American hatred that produces those terrorists.

    Fear and Loathing in D.C.

    by Harold Taggart

    In 1954, the Pentagon submitted to President Dwight David Eisenhower a plan code named "end run." End Run called for a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union. Eisenhower asked if the Pentagon could guarantee that no Soviet Bison or Bear long-range heavy bombers would escape the attack and strike the United States. The Pentagon said it couldn't. On that basis, Eisenhower did not approve the plan to annihilate the Soviet Union and nearly 200 million people. The United States passed up the opportunity to fulfil Hitler's dream.

    Since then, the Pentagon has been obsessed with creating a shield that would stop a counter attack if the United States launched a nuclear attack against another nuclear power.

    The speaker was Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear physics at the City University of New York. The occasion was part of the IMF/World Bank protest in Washington D.C. Professor Kaku spoke on April 14, 2000 on the subject of the Ballistic Missile Defense system, commonly called Star Wars. Professor Kaku is a leading expert on string theory and a world-renowned physicist. He spoke eloquently against any further research for weapons in space. Professor Kaku recently found the plans for the U.S. nuclear strike against the Soviet Union as he researched newly declassified Pentagon documents. His point was that when these weapons exist, they can fall into the hands of unstable, demented or misguided leaders in any nation.

    No first-class physicist will work on the Star Wars project, Kaku said. Consequently, second-rate physicists are doing the work. The constant failures are testament to the quality of people the Pentagon got to do the research, Kaku said.

    The BMD protest and teach-in was the first major action of the weekend that brought about 35,000 people together in Washington D.C. to register their disapproval of the role the International Monetary Fund and World Bank play assisting transnational corporations to loot and plunder third world nations. About a hundred people attended the BMD teach-in outside the Treasury Department. An equal number of police kept vigil over the group that assembled a couple blocks east of the White House. The police conducted an in-your-face confrontation with the attendees. At seemingly regular intervals, they nudged the protesters into a smaller and smaller area for no apparent reason other than annoyance.

    The actions of the police on Friday were typical of their approach for the rest of the weekend. They acted unpredictably. They prodded, probed and provoked. The police that were visible did not wear the black riot gear that was standard attire for Seattle police during protests against the World Trade Organization in November and December 1999. D.C. police did, however, wear transparent protective visors and many had transparent hand-carried shields that were about five feet tall. Visible faces of the officers, unlike in Seattle where black visors of Darth Vader-like uniforms concealed the faces of officers and deputies, reduced the tension felt by protesters. Possibly the change was not to reduce tension. On Sunday, when the main march was held, the sun was bright and the temperature rose above 80 degrees. The humidity was near 100%. Several men and women protesters stripped to the waist. Police, in their bulletproof vests and full-body garb, were sweating like pigs. Several suffered heat prostration and had to be taken to nearby medical facilities for treatment.

    The reduced tension was misleading. On Saturday morning, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the Convergence Center, the heart of protester activity. What was a jar of artists' paint thinner to normal people and a tank of propane gas for heating food to sane people, were Molotov Cocktails in the cynical minds of D.C. law-enforcement officers. The fire marshal and D.C. police entered shortly after AFT agents found the "weapons arsenal." They arrested some giant puppets and confiscated signs and other materials used to create a carnival atmosphere and send a colorful message during marches. Two people were arrested.

    Police raids and suspicious vehicle stops uncovered other "terrorist tools." These tools were heating system pipes. They are used to bind several protesters together so that it is more difficult for police to physically remove their limp bodies from intersections or other strategic locations. With much fanfare, the police displayed the contraband to the excited media as if they were caches of illegal arms or drugs. Never mind that this kind of tubing and pipes are found in nearly every basement in America.

    The cunning police also frustrated banner hanging or drops and strategic structure climbing. They asked all hardware stores in the area to remove anything, including bicycle locks, that could be used as a climbing tool.

    The police had the guns, but the protesters had the brains. The protesters had the advantage. Within two hours of the closing of the original Convergence Center, a new Convergence Center was up and running in a nearby Latino church and community center.

    On Saturday, two major protest actions were held. One was at a Gap outlet in Georgetown. The second was at the Justice Department located on Pennsylvania Av. between the White House and Congress. It began an hour later at 3:00 p.m. It was held to oppose the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) which has grown to over two million inmates, one-fourth of all the world's prisoners. The U.S. has more people incarcerated than any other nation in the world. Only Russia, which was the recipient of blueprints of our system after the fall of Communism, has more people in prison per capita. The transfer of the model of our system to Russia totally failed except for the crime part. Although many people in our jails are innocent as was proven recently by a group of students at Northwestern University, the count is skewed the other way by our failure to put most of our wealthy criminals in jail. If young, novice students can do a better job solving crimes than our professional police, prosecutors, and judges, it's time to overhaul the system.

    The PIC protesters numbered six people at 3:00 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., the number had swollen to 2,000. Giddy with their success, the leaders seemed reluctant to end it. For about an hour, protesters marched in the standard oval on the sidewalk just north of the Department of Justice. Then, like a projectile from a slingshot, they sped off toward the White House and IMF and World Bank buildings. The police, apparently caught off guard, hustled to keep up.

    Metal portable barriers surrounded all the target buildings. No one made an effort to break through them even though they represented little more than a token obstruction. The march went north and past all the buildings.

    At 19th and "Eye" streets, I saw Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange, a human rights group located in San Francisco. Medea was scheduled to have a press conference with an official from Bolivia regarding that nation's experiment with the privatization of the drinking water system. The Bolivian drinking water experience was fundamental to understanding the roles of the World Bank and IMF. The Bolivian drinking water system was privatized and turned over to the California-based Bechtel Corporation. Shortly thereafter, many Bolivians were spending one-quarter of their incomes on their water bills. There were massive demonstrations, and the experiment was discontinued.

    I caught up with the March 21st and Pennsylvania, where they doubled back, turned north on 20th St. and recrossed "Eye" St. At K St, home of most lobby and public relations firms, police had set up a barricade manned by dozens of police officers. This was a narrow block with no exits except each end of 20th St. A couple dozen additional police moved forward and boxed in the leading third of the marchers. A third line of police drove the rest of us back toward "Eye" St.

    To everyone's surprise, the police announced that the forward group was under arrest for parading without a permit. Technically, people walking in the streets as opposed to on the sidewalks, are parading. However, that didn't stop the police from also arresting those on the sidewalks, several of whom were local shoppers. They arrested 617 people. That was the largest mass arrest of the weekend and occurred the day before the official protest starting time. The rest of us were wondering around in the middle of Pennsylvania Av., technically parading, and were not arrested.

    Most of those arrested opted for "jail solidarity." That involves refusal to give a name or any other information. They are processed, initially as John or Mary Doe. That creates a huge amount of paper work for the police. Usually they are given the option to pay an amount, about $50, and be released or demand a trial or hearing depending on local laws. Those who refused or couldn't pay the fine, were held. Ultimately, those people were charged with jay walking and let go for a $5 fine. The crime was expunged from their records.

    The tone of the demonstration and police responses was set early in the weekend. The police continued to annoy, irritate and provoke at every opportunity. The protesters were determined to avoid violence. Each time a police officer bumped into someone, ran over someone's foot with his motorcycle or instigated some other form of confrontation, the chant of "No violence! No violence!" went out from the crowd. Violence remained the exclusive domain of the police and the state.

    Rally Against Hate

    by Gene Birmingham

    About 200 people attended a Rally Against Hate on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, April 4, at the Geneva Road Baptist Church in Wheaton, IL. The rally resulted from the formation of a coalition by Progressive Independents for Action for the purpose of speaking out against hate crimes, lest their perpetrators assume that silence would mean assent, if not approval.

    Chaired by DSA member, Steve De La Rosa, the coalition included DSA member, Libby Frank, among representatives from NOW, Donn Schneider from West Suburban DSA, Stuart Anderson, DSA member of ACLU, and Gene Birmingham, Chicago DSA, identified as United Church of Christ clergy.

    Other groups were NAACP, Metro-West Suburban Peace Coalition, American Association of University Women, Pax Christi, Du Page Voices for Racial Justice, Citizen Advocacy Center of Elmhurst, Du Page County Federation of Labor, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Baha'i Youth Services Institute which performed a symbolic dance, Synagogue Congregation Etz Chaim and the Anti-Defamation League, which supplied the keynote speaker, Shoshana Buchholz-Miller.

    Other speakers were author, Glenette Turner, social poet, James McGrew, and Pastor Andre Allen of Second Baptist Church of Wheaton, who delivered excerpts from King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Music by "Mighty Joe" provided entertainment until the rally began. The host church, represented by Pastor Lynne Kelley, provided child care and a program in keeping with the rally theme. Refreshments and conversation followed the rally, offering opportunity for participants to become acquainted. An offering of $550, in addition to other receipts, for a total of $700, convinced the coalition to continue to address the hate crime issue in Du Page County.

    After expenses, the offering was given to the Rapid Response Network of Voices for Racial Justice, by which people concerned with hate crimes could respond quickly and unitedly to hate crimes.

    A Pledge in the program read:

    No matter where hate violence occurs, the community will be damaged. In order to heal our community, we pledge:


    Mumia March

    by Harold Taggart

    May 13 marked the anniversary of the Philadelphia police department's annihilation of the MOVE organization. To commemorate the barbaric incident, world-wide demonstrations were organized. The demonstrations centered around another Philadelphia legal system injustice: the framing of Mumia Abu Jamal for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

    In Chicago, approximately 250 demonstrators turned out for the Mumia protest. In Paris, France, more than 2,000 demonstrated. The disparity is indicative of the lack of a sense of morality and justice among Americans. Unless told to do so by the media, most Americans don't know when to be outraged by a gross injustice. For instance, the U.S. has the highest prison population in the world. Where is the popular outcry? The government is recording all of our phone, e-mail and fax communications. Where is the outrage?

    What they lacked in numbers, the Chicago demonstrators more than compensated in enthusiasm. The clouds, cold and wind did not dampen or cool the spirits of the protesters who gathered on the southwest corner of the Federal Plaza. For one and one-half hours, speakers railed against police brutality, injustice in the legal system and the fate of Mumia Abu Jamal who was tried for his political views, not to find the killer of a Philadelphia police officer. Speakers ranged from Congressman Danny Davis to former death row inmates who had been found innocent. Parents of some who had been killed "mistakenly" by police also spoke.

    About 3:00 p.m. the protesters stepped off on a march scheduled to go through the center of the loop then down Lake Shore Drive. The March went up then back down State St. where numerous shoppers and tourists were treated to vibrant chants and colorful signs succinctly proclaiming the outrages of the legal system. The march then went east through Grant Park and over to Lake Shore Drive without incident. Police were everywhere. They were on horses, bicycles, foot and in a variety of vehicles.

    Fulfilling a promise to my wife, I left the protest at 4:00 p.m. at Lake Shore Drive and Balbo. As I arrived at the intersection of Balbo and Columbus, a large Paddy Wagon turned the corner on Balbo and drove toward my comrades on Lake Shore Drive. All had been peaceful at that point.

    Since then, those who stayed reported that that 12 people were arrested at Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt. I was told that a policeman grabbed a flag. The owner resisted and other police assisted. Protestors held on the their comrade and the melee began.

    Protesters moved onto Lake Shore Drive. This was part of a contingency one of the coalition groups had planned and had not informed the rest of the group. They shut down that busy thoroughfare for about twenty minutes. Then the arrests began. Witnesses said the police were generally restrained and seemed to be acting under orders not to break up the demonstration or attempt to splinter it. The cops were as aggressive as possible within these constraints. Some officers were spotted hiding their badges at this time.

    After the Lake Shore Drive incident, the rest of the rally participants continued on to the Aquarium. There they were not restrained from interacting with the museum visitors.

    News Letters

    Compiled by Bob Roman


    Save the Date!

    The Chicago DSA Membership Convention will be Saturday, June 17, the exact time and venue still to be determined. The membership convention (a fancy name for a membership meeting) will elect three officers, adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year, and some manner of work plan. Resolutionary socialism is also in order.

    The three officers to be elected to a two year term are the female Co-Chair, Treasurer and Political Education Director. The formal duties of these officers are specified in Chicago DSA's Constitution, but all of the positions offer opportunities for creativity and growth.

    Ideally, the budget and workplan should have some degree of integration. This year will be more important than usual as Chicago DSA is in a good position for organizational and programmatic growth. Your participation is important! For more information, call the CDSA office (773 - 384 - 0327) or any CDSA officer.


    Anti-Sweatshop Moves

    The student anti-sweatshop movement continues to gather steam in Chicago, with the recent decision by DePaul University to sign on with the WRC as the monitoring agency for the university's licensed products. This follows by some months a similar victory at Loyola University.

    Unfortunately, things are not going so well at the University of Chicago, where the Young Democratic Socialists chapter has been a key component of the anti-sweatshop coalition from its beginning. The University Administration has decided to sign on with the FLA, an agency generally considered to be an industry "paper tiger". The Administration has, however, offered to continue talking about the issue and has helped sponsor forums on the issue, possibly hoping to filibuster the issue to death, or possibly wishing to find a profitable compromise.

    None of these campaigns are happening in isolation, however, as the students from various university campuses around Chicago are meeting regularly and exchanging information with students around the country.


    May Day Direct Action

    An example of such coordination was the direct action at the Old Navy store on State Street on May Day. Students from the UofC YDS and Anti-Sweatshop Coalition and students from Loyola infiltrated the store in small groups. At a pre-arranged moment, they gathered together to descend the store escalator while singing "Solidarity Forever" and leafleting the patrons. Exiting the store, the demonstrators performed a skit illustrating the forced "race to the bottom" that characterizes corporate globalization.


    No More Prisons

    Prison Moratorium Project & Raptivism Records are proud to announce the release of the No More Prisons Hip Hop Compilation CD, which is now available at record stores (Tower, Virgin, HMV, Warehouse, etc.) in NYC, Boston, Chicago and California, as well as online (www.Amazon.com, www.CDNow.com).

    The CD, recorded to educate the public about prison expansion and raise funds for activism, contains 23 original tracks and features more than 70 artists, including Group Home, Apani, Last Emperor, Cocoa Brovas, Grandmaster Caz, Hurricane G, dead prez, Danny Hoch, Prof. Cornel West, Daddy-O, Edo G., Vinia Mojica, Last Poets, Kool DJ EQ, OGC, Chubb Rock & more.

    PMP and Raptivism are also sponsoring a 40-city No More Prisons "raptivist" tour to raise awareness, publicize the CD and provide training to young prison activists. The tour will feature experienced young organizers and artists from the CD who will be available for conferences, workshops, trainings, spoken-word performances and hip hop show.

    For more information, contact Kevin Pranis at (212) 727-8610 x23, email kpranis@igc.org or go to www.nomoreprisons.org .


    Debs Centennial

    The year 2000 is the centennial of Eugene V. Debs' first campaign for President. The Debs Foundation maintains Eugene V. Debs' home in Terre Haute, Indiana, as a museum, and it has announced that it will be sponsoring a "scholarly conference assessing the influence of Debs on 20th Century America". The conference is being cosponsored by Indiana State University and is planned for Friday and Saturday, November 10 and 11, in connection with the Foundation's annual banquet. The sessions will be held on the ISU campus and will be open to the public.

    As the 1999 DSA National Convention passed a resolution encouraging the commemoration of the centennial of the founding of the Socialist Party in 2001, this conference should be of special interest to DSA members. For more information, call (812) 237 - 3443 or email soking@scifac.indstate.edu.

    The Debs Foundation has just recently established a website: www.eugenevdebs.com . The site is very attractive and informative but is heavy on graphics. Consequently, it's best viewed with a fast connection or with patience.


    NAFTA for Africa

    While us lefties have every reason to be encouraged by recent events, there's still plenty of bad news. When last we visited HR 434, the "NAFTA for Africa" act was stalled in conference committee, paralyzed by the extreme differences between the version passed by the House and the version passed by the Senate (see New Ground, #68, page 10; #64 page 3; #63 page 1). Possibly goaded by a changing political climate, the House and Senate conferees reached an agreement which largely follows the Senate version in that it includes the Caribbean Basin Initiative. The Senate, after evading some obstructionist maneuvers by opponents, passed the bill by 77 to 19. The House passed the bill by 309 to 110, with some very progressive legislators like Danny Davis and Major Owens voting on the wrong side of the issue. One hopes that it was a profitable legislative transaction, at least, and not ignorance.

    Smokey for President

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