[Hpn] Y2GO2D2KLA

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:57:06 -0700


Crashing the party
(Or: Y2GO2D2KLA)

By Daniel Zoll

WHEN AN ANGRY army of protesters descends on the Democratic National 
Convention in Los Angeles Aug. 14, members of Colombia's indigenous 
U'wa tribe will be leading the way.

It's a perfect expression of how globalization - so aggressively 
fast-tracked by Democratic nominee Al Gore - is inspiring far-flung 
movements to get connected.

The U'wa have been fighting L.A.-based Occidental Petroleum's 
environmentally destructive plans to drill in their sacred homeland, 
and they vow to commit mass suicide if it goes through. Occidental's 
partner in the project, Royal Dutch/Shell, has pulled out, citing 
human rights and public relations concerns.

Al Gore, whose father was a vice president and board member of 
Occidental, owns at least $500,000 in the company's stock. 
Environmentalists have lobbied Gore to divest or to pressure 
Occidental to abandon the project. Instead, as the Nation reports, 
the Clinton administration "has been quietly helping the company - a 
generous donor to the Democrats in recent years - to win support in 
Colombia for its drilling plans."

If the U'wa can travel thousands of miles to highlight corporate 
crime, environmental destruction, and social injustice, Bay Area 
activists have little excuse to stay home.

Paul Boden of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness says such 
forums are much more effective than simply voting for political 
change. "If we don't use these kinds of forums and we don't apply 
direct action as a way of applying pressure, then we lose out to the 
moneyed interests," he told the Bay Guardian. "Poor people and 
working-class people have never gotten shit in this country unless 
they demanded it."

The Democratic convention is the perfect venue for activists to 
educate a mass audience about the party's rightward, pro-corporate 
agenda and to connect concerns about globalization, the death 
penalty, and poverty with the party's advancement of these problems. 
A huge hell-raising in Los Angeles can deepen the growing public 
awareness of the Democrats' abandonment of the poor, people of color, 
workers, and democratic government.

But the L.A. mobilization (popularly known as D2KLA) is not just 
about Gore, his corporate sponsors, or the Democrats. It's about 
momentum. This is a pivotal moment in the new global justice 
movement, and it's happening in our backyard. The protests and events 
will shine a bright spotlight on issues of particular urgency to 
California, such as the criminalization of youth, and the 
prison-industrial complex.

That's why hundreds of Bay Area activists are now booking youth 
hostels and making carpool plans. Local grassroots social justice 
groups have been actively involved in planning D2KLA events, which 
means the protests should be more diverse than those in Seattle and 
Washington, which were dominated by white twentysomethings (see 
"Moving the Movement," page 23). Activists say the convention 
protests need to prove that Seattle was not a fluke, that the World 
Trade Organization and World Bank protesters didn't just go home and 
turn on cable and call it a day. "Nothing will really happen unless 
we crash the party," says hip-hop musician Rashidi Omari, whose 
Oakland-based band, Company of Prophets, will play at the Aug. 13 
Santa Monica event.

The U'wa-led march through downtown L.A. kicks off four days of 
alternative convention activities. Every day has an "action theme," 
beginning with "Human Need Not Corporate Greed" and ending with 
"Global Economic Justice." Participants can choose between permitted 
marches and civil disobedience actions at corporate offices or other 
targets coordinated with the daily theme. The DNC should also expect 
creative actions at its fundraising shindigs, organizers say.

Events include a mock Million Billionaire March; a Shadow Convention 
focusing on campaign finance reform, the widening wage gap, and the 
war on drugs; a "No More Ramparts!" march against police brutality; 
and a rally by the antiracist, pro-mass transit Bus Riders Union.

Those who can be in Los Angeles only one day should try to make it 
the first day of the convention, Aug. 14, organizers say. There are 
still free or low-cost rides and accommodations available for the 
week (see "Protesters' Resource Guide to Major Rallies and Events," 
page 23).

Here are several good reasons why you should walk, crawl, do whatever 
it takes to get to the protest next week.

Keep the pressure on Gore

The protests will remind Gore of the price he and the party will pay 
for deserting their traditional base. The party has rejected platform 
planks, proposed by the progressive caucus, calling for fair trade 
policies and a living wage. A few of Gore's many failing points:

Trade Though the L.A. protests will encompass a range of issues, the 
one that started it all, in Seattle, was trade. In a June 2000 
report, the United Nations Development Program, no bastion of 
radicalism, concluded that "multilateral trade agreements have 
serious consequences for human well-being and human rights." But the 
Clinton administration is still pushing its unfair trade agenda.

Environment Incredibly, many San Francisco progressives still believe 
the hype about Gore and the environment. Gore, who so eloquently 
defended NAFTA in 1992, must be pressured to explain the 
environmental disaster that has resulted on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Capital punishment While roughly the same number of blacks and whites 
are murdered, 82 percent of executions in the United States since 
1977 have been of prisoners convicted of murdering a white person. 
Finally there is some discussion in this country on the inequities - 
and the moral bankruptcy - of capital punishment. But Gore and many 
Democrats continue to support the death penalty.

Poverty Poverty has disappeared from the party's radar screen. 
According to a U.N. report, 750,000 Americans are homeless on any 
given night, some 40 million go without health insurance, and one 
adult in five is functionally illiterate. Clinton-Gore's welfare 
"reform" has swelled vastly the ranks of the homeless and hungry. The 
scandal of poor people being discarded by the state should be 
trumpeted as a central symbol of Gore's politics.

Food safety Before becoming vice president, Gore said he would 
support regulations on agricultural biotechnology. The Clinton Food 
and Drug Administration has been for sale to the highest bidder. "The 
Clinton FDA has been worse than Bush Sr.'s administration, because 
they have absolutely not listened to the public on anything," says 
Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers 
Association. Clinton's FDA has fought all calls for mandatory 
labeling or safety testing of genetically engineered food.

Defense and foreign policy There are two parties of war in 
Washington. One of the most shameful Clinton-Gore legacies is its 
economic sanctions against Iraq, which have killed hundreds of 
thousands of innocent women, men, and children. The Clinton 
administration is also considering deployment of a national missile 
defense system, which Gore supports. According to Physicians for 
Social Responsibility, such a system is "not only technologically 
unfeasible and expensive, it will only serve to undermine global 
stability and security by causing unnecessary tensions among various 
nations in order to defend against a threat that does not exist."

It's in L.A.

What better place to protest issues like police brutality, sprawl, 
underfunded public transportation, the water crisis, and the fact 
that Baywatch is now our country's number one cultural export? It' s 
also a great opportunity to support our L.A. allies. Paul Lee, of 
Korean Immigrant Worker Advocates, says his group is going to call 
Democrats' attention to the country's largest sweatshop zone - 
located just under the nose of convention attendees. "Given that the 
DNC is going to be held basically a few blocks from this massive 
sweatshop industry we have here, we want to bring this issue as much 
as possible to the eyes of the Democratic Party leadership," he said.

Support organized labor

Though the AFL-CIO has already endorsed Gore, many rank and filers 
say they will be on the streets. Among the unions that have endorsed 
some or all of the D2K Actions are the International Longshore and 
Warehouse Union (ILWU), the California Nurses Association, Justice 
for Janitors, and the Steelworkers.

Yell at Gov. Gray Davis

On the state level, nobody better represents the rightward shift of 
the Democratic party than Governor Davis. Among his many cave-ins to 
corporate contributors, the man vetoed a "Buy American" bill aimed at 
promoting domestic industry, citing potential conflicts with WTO 
rules. After he raised $129,000 at a July 1999 timber industry party, 
Davis's Board of Forestry watered down proposed timber regulations. 
The governor denies any connection between the contributions and his 
legislative agenda.

Make history

There's nothing like the smell of pepper spray in the morning. If 
that's not enough of an enticement, ask anyone who attended the 
Battles of Seattle or Washington, and they will tell you: it was fun, 
inspiring, scary - an unforgettable experience.

Educate yourself

The convention week is packed with teach-ins, speeches, and shadow 
conventions, all with speakers you are not likely to see on the 
Sunday-morning news shows. Among the many educational events is 
Global Exchange's pre-convention "Reality of Los Angeles Tour," which 
begins Thurs/10 and will spend three days exploring the prison 
industry, sweatshops, and environmental racism in the city. And on 
Sat/12, experts from Food First, Organic Consumers Association, and 
Greenpeace will march and speak at the "Stop Genetic Engineering" 

Get the media to listen

The turnout in Philadelphia was apparently not enough to get the 
media to cover the issues. As the watchdog group Fairness and 
Accuracy in Reporting observed in its July 25 report on convention 
coverage, "What emerges from this coverage is an image of activists 
as a paramilitary mob preparing to take to the streets to frustrate 
and discredit the police." The greater - and louder - the turnout, 
the more difficult it will be for them to ignore us.

For complete information on all D2KLA events, go to www.d2kla.org.

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