“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
… what it actually says.
From July 25 to 28, the people will be peaceably assembling in Philadelphia. Nobody is forgetting 1968, but we all know that this is not 1968. Sanders people are negotiating details for four demonstrations, one at FDR Park, about a half mile from the Wells Fargo Convention Center, and others scheduled at a much smaller plaza four miles away. Sanders organizers are working with city officials to keep everything “peaceful and constructive,” and are expecting upwards of 30,000 people. Plans are already in motion to line up busloads and accommodations for Philly, and state organizations have begun raising money specifically for the demonstrations.
The negotiations come in the shadow of the May 4 Nevada State Democratic Convention, whose organizers deliberately created their own “Reichstag Fire” incident. The media is dutifully broadcasting the rage of the Hillary camp and its pundit allies at Sanders even remaining in the race. They are knowingly spreading the blatant lie that the Sanders people — with their “penchant for violence” — were throwing chairs at last week’s Nevada State Convention. On May 17, Sanders outlined the deliberately provocative behavior of the Nevada Democratic leadership, which was met with outrage that Sanders did not heed their call and start attacking his own people.
“No chairs were thrown.”
As Doug Johnson Hatlem revealed in the May 18 Counterpunch:
“No chairs were thrown at the convention Saturday. No death threats were made against the chair of the convention Roberta Lange. And Bernie Sanders delegates were not simply mad because their louder shouting was ignored.”
Controlling the stage, Chair Roberta Lange used the “time-honored” method of calling for a voice vote, ruling that the “ayes” have it, and surrounding herself with armed guards behind metal barricades. Then, as a final slap in Sanders’ face, Lange tried to use the liberal Senator from Nevada Barbara Boxer … oh, my mistake, the Senator from CALIFORNIA Barbara Boxer to try to threaten the crowd into silence.
“If you Boo me, you’re booing Bernie Sanders … Boo yourselves out of this election!”
No, they were booing Boxer. Liberals howled that the Sanders people were causing all this trouble over a measly two delegates, not even embarrassed by the obvious fact that the Clinton camp had gone all-jackboot over the same measly two delegates.
Allow me to be blunt. This was a calculated political assassination. Or at least a political assassination attempt, in the fine tradition of the Reichstag Fire of 1933, when the Nazis themselves burned down the German parliament, then used it as a pretext for passing an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties and institute mass arrests of their left opposition.
One might ask why the Democratic Party, feigning dismay that Sanders people might not vote unanimously for Hillary, would so stomp on the very people they claim to need. Recall 1972. George McGovern won the Democratic Party nomination by using new rules to outmaneuver and out campaign the party bosses of the day. Outraged at such impertinence, key elements of the party sand-bagged McGovern, preferring to re-elect Nixon than allow such an interloper to become president. Bottom line: winning a given election is NOT the Democratic Party’s bottom line. Rather, paramount is keeping control. It’s that simple.
Nevada — the DNC’s dress rehearsal for Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, keeping order is in the hands of Philadelphia’s “Finest.” The home of legendary Police Chief Frank Rizzo, who was elected mayor in 1975 after saying, “I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot,” they are a police force ranked by Copblock as Number 8 among 9 Police Departments With Corrupt Pasts.
The City of Brotherly Love has an ugly history of trying to suppress protest. In 2000, thousands of poor and homeless families marched down Broad Street to protest the first day of the Republican National Convention. Cheri Honkala of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, and National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, had fought tooth and nail for the right of her people to peaceably march against the Republican hate-fest. The city refused them a march permit and sent in police infiltrators, but Honkala’s people marched down Broad anyway and put the demands of the poor front and center. The following video recounts that march and the events leading up to it:
Battle for Broad.
So while Sanders organizers are now working with city officials to keep everything “peaceful and constructive,” the city’s number one priority is still to keep order, and 30,000 people is a whole lot of people.
Enter the poor, stage left.
This year, Honkala, more recently Jill Stein’s 2012 Green Party running mate, is working to organize a march of the poor and homeless down Broad Street, the March for Our Lives, to “draw attention to the economic issues that are decimating our city and country.” Again, the city and police are attempting to deny her a permit, claiming it would disrupt traffic or conflict with other events.
The May 17 Metro writes that Honkala:
“believes the city doesn’t want her group to expose the city’s struggles with poverty and homelessness as national attention is on Philadelphia for the convention this July. “This is basically cosmetics,” Honkala said. “This is ‘let’s sweep up and hide poor homeless people prior to the Democratic National Convention, let’s pretend like we’re doing a good job providing the basic necessities of life for people who don’t have these things.'”
As for the city’s excuses:
“That’s a game,” she said, adding that they had contacted the organizers of the other event on the same day: “We know this space is available at that time.”
Traditionally, demonstrations have been allowed to cut off traffic with or without permits. Broad Street is important because it will guarantee exposure to both the media and the public. It’s a straight run — from City Hall down Broad Street to the Wells Fargo Convention Center. Says Honkala:
“The city is not wanting to talk about the fact that right now, we can walk around City Hall and there’s homeless people sleeping outside. They’re going to spend $43 million on security for the DNC. Could they spend that on housing? … “We’re not going to go hide under a bench, we’re not going to disappear, we’re going to be here, and if they’re ashamed of poverty, hunger and homelessness, they can handle those issues. Permit or no permit, we’re marching.”
The power behind the blue curtain.
But let us not be distracted by the bad reputation of the Enforcers, lest we forget those they will be doing the enforcing for: the Democratic National Committee, headed by Florida Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Wasserman Schultz has been trying to quash the insurgent Bernie Sanders presidential campaign from the beginning. First she backed Hillary in restricting the number of presidential debates to an absolute minimum, preferring to schedule them on weekends, which have the smallest viewerships. In mid-February, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC quietly (secretly) reversed Obama’s 2008 ban on the DNC taking money from corporate lobbyists, opening the floodgates to Hillary receiving almost unlimited corporate cash. She is not going unchallenged.
Tim Canova — a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s law school in Fort Lauderdale and teacher of international trade law — is now going after Wasserman Schultz’s 23rd District congressional seat (consisting of portions of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties) in Florida’s August 30 primary. Canova had bitterly opposed Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Wasserman Schultz was one of 28 House Democrats to support giving Obama fast-track trade authority. That was too much for Canova, who says:
“No member of the Washington establishment has done more to help big corporations gain influence and power within the Democratic National Committee than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Not only has she repealed President Barack Obama’s ban on federal lobbyists donating to the DNC, but we’ve learned in the past week that she has recruited Republicans and anti-Obamacare lobbyists to be the official hosts and funders of the Democratic National Convention in July.”
As former Obama environmental adviser Van Jones put it on CNN:
“Debbie, who should be the umpire, who should be the marriage counselor, is coming in harder for Hillary Clinton than she is for herself. That is malpractice.”
Fighting for the Political Revolution, Canova has endorsed Sanders and has been endorsed by him as well. Like Sanders, Canova refuses corporate donations, having already raised over $1 million in small contributions. He of course supports the $15/hour minimum wage, and says:
“We can create millions of jobs for young men and women by investing in jobs programs. We must demand pay equity for women. We can make tuition free at public colleges and universities, as they were for my dad’s generation after World War II with the G.I. Bill of Rights program. And like Senator Sanders, I support paying for this with a small turnover tax — the so-called “Robin Hood tax” — on financial transactions.”
Meet me in Philadelphia!
Yes, 30,000 people is a lot of people. There is no reason to expect a love-fest, despite the fact that, per the Metro, Philadelphia is planning a “PoliticalFest,” designed to be “a six-day series of events and exhibits around the city with fun and educational programming for adults and children alike exploring the history of democracy in the United States.” PolliticalFest is Convention Chair Ed Rendell’s “‘brainchild,’ originally cooked up back in 2000 when as mayor he hosted the Republican National Convention.”
I guess nobody thought to tell Rendell that the 2016 Democrats are not exactly the same as the year 2000 Republicans.
A New Alliance.
Compare the leading demands of March for Our Lives with the Sanders Income Inequality planks:
Substantively the same.
Sanders the Democrat and Honkala the Green. Their forces 30,000 strong. Putting the cause of the poor and homeless front and center. That can make a powerful statement impacting far beyond the days of the Convention. They can strengthen each other.
The Sanders people have an opportunity to reach the Black and Latino communities directly, bypassing the Black/Latino Democratic Party power structure that has so long been Hillary’s trump card. The March for Our Lives forces benefit from greater media attention and a degree of protection in the face of the Philly’s Finest. Both face a common enemy — the DNC neocon/neoliberal Establishment power structure that has pulled out all the stops to shut them both out. Though of separate organizations, both share a common movement.
Oh, did I mention? 30,000 people, that’s a whole lot of people.
Broad Street at Philadelphia City Hall
July 25, 3:00 p.m.
— posted by Jeff Roby
May 21, 2016