Was the State of the Union demo the start of a new wave of protest in the U.S.?

30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
The thoughts and feeling I had after the Smash the State of the Union Demo on January 28th, 2003
Was the State of the Union demo the start of a new wave of protest in the U.S.? After attending the demo on January 28th I had a new, re-found, hope for the ?movement.? I always here comrades in other countries telling me about the demos they would go toin many other places in the world. They seem like fun festive events that accomplish something. After I received a scholarship to go to England to for the Fall 2001 semester, I was able to experience this first hand. While there I took part in the Anti-WTO protest in London. It was nothing like I had been to in the U.S. A fun Carnival-like atmosphere of 20-30 thousand people marching in the streets of London, complete with floats, marching bands and about 15 different national/international groups. While we did not ?Smash the State? every person went home with the feeling of, ?we need to get organized and organize other people to move, not just get agitated.?

After returning home from the State of the Union demo I had the exact same feeling. While we did not ?Smash the State,? we did some damn good work. We had a presence in D.C. that people could not mistake. While we stayed on the sidewalk, sometimes, we were strong. The cop?s shut down the traffic on the side of the street we were on. We caused senators to get stuck in traffic as they were leaving Bush?s speech. While we may not have had the numbers to do what we truly wanted (fuck shit up), we still accomplished our goal. If you think we were going to stop the war that night, then you are living in a fantasy world.

We made our presence felt in D.C., but that was not the best part. If you looked at the demographics of the march, there was a refreshing dynamic. Women in leadership rolls and on the front line, large numbers of people of color, more then normal, but the best part, was that the people there were not all black clad Anarchists. Now don?t get me wrong, I have marched with the bloc on numerous occasions, so this is not an attack on black clad Anarchists. But, in the unpermited march, there were: Hippy type peace-nicks who would not take their two fingers down the whole time, many people without masks on, the average anti-war rallier from the college, everyone knowing full well we were over 25 people, had no permit, and when we did take the streets for those few blocks, fell right in. It was beautiful, all of us with the same passion in our eyes and hearts.

Then when we realized we could go no further, we went back and partied. While on the lawn most people were not worried about which cop was going to take their picture, or who was watching them bob-their-head or shake their booty. People were having a good time. Some times activists need to unwind; some times we need to do political things without 100% political submersion. We need to do different/new things, and the other night was different. After talking to some friends, we came to the conclusion that the reason things are changing in the movement, is not because they are getting old, we all want to still smash the state, but because we, as a movement, are growing up. The amount of people that started becoming politically active, as opposed to politically conscious, grew drastically after Seattle. Most of those people wanted to repeat Seattle, and that was all. I know because I was one of them. Now, people have matured and are no longer running around looking for the next fight, but are actually doing political work. If you look at the corporate press from the day after the demo, every (local) paper reported what we did that night, most gave us our own article. Whether or not it was good or bad, the word got out, that there are people in opposition to Bush and his policies. We are winning, slowly but surely we are winning. Great work, thank you for resparking my fire.
Onward.
-Zach

Comments

thank you.
Current rating: 0
30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
i’d just like to say thank you, as a person who spent what felt like hundreds of hours and numerous high stress moments in planning the sorry state of the union concert and smash the state of the union march. it always makes the hours of work worth it knowing that people got their voices heard, but it re-lights my own fire to dedicate what passion and hours i have to organizing and protesting knowing at least one person had their spark re-lit because of something i felt a part of.

~lady speaker for shirts off coalition at sorry state of the union concert

Right On!
Current rating: 0
30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
I was just writing my own thoughts on the march and I went to check some stuff out on indymedia and saw your post. You summed it up much better than I could so I’m just going to forward your posting to our Shirts Off coalition listserv. We haven’t decided when the debriefing is going to be but it would be good to have you there. Contact us at visibleresistance (at) mutualaid.org or 866 860 9311.

Inspiration
Current rating: 0
30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
Thank you Zach for your powerful, amazing story. Inspiration runs many ways. This concert/rally etc. helped me rekindle my love in this movement–in part because of how excited everyone there seemed to be.
See also:
http://zoe_mitchell.pitas.com/

Indeed Indeed
Current rating: 0
30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
Indeed indeed I can only agree. This event took one jaded activist and made me feel like a “virgin” again. Well said sir morris, onward to victory!

agreed
Current rating: 0
30 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
the best part was running down the street after we blocked the cops motorcycles. That was the most exhilerating feeling I have ever experienced.

anarchist anti-war momentum builds!
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
check out the anti-war momentum post on the anarchist movement page of infoshop.org interactive:

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php?story=03/01/30/6340845

whatever
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
we know you posted all the responses zach.

fuckauthority
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
We don’t need your stinkin leaders!

Anarchists for Gun Control???
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
All I heard was a lot of liberal blather and videos lingering on facts about gun control. Anarchists have been co-opted and your liberal leaders will never let you smash the state.
See also:
http://www.trueanarchy.org/

World Wide Strike Date Feb. 10th 2003
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
In protest of the impeding war with Iraq and the continued bombing of its people a world wide general strike and boycott has been issued for Feb. 10th 2003. Please join your comrades in this struggle for peace and justice. Unite and Win! more info http://us.geocities.com/warisdumbstill
See also:
http://us.geocities.com/warisdumbstill

suggestion
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
Get Marching Bands out to these protests!
Get those dancing, flag twirling bands out to MAKE SOME NOISE! (N.I.O.N. Earth flags!)
Get REAL LOUD, REAL CREATIVE, AND REAL SHOWY.

The movement definitely needs to change into something else, not just the same old fashioned protests we’ve all been to a hundred times. We need to get the people who seem bored when they march, to realize why they’re there–to be excited about stopping this fuckin war, to be on fire about changing things. LOUD MARCHING BANDS CAN DO THAT!

Call up your high school band buddies, or get your award winning college marching band to come to the Feb. 15 Protest/March.

about that general strike
Current rating: 0
31 Jan 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
You should post that all over EVERYTHING in order to get the word out. The only place I’ve seen that date posted is on warisdumbstill.
I know a lot of people here in NYC are in favor of that idea, but if the day comes and goes and no one hears about it, it won’t do any good.

The UK is planning a general strike too, I don’t know if that day is the same day as theirs, but we gotta coordinate to make a dent in this society.

I’ll put the 10th on MY calendar, that’s for sure.

yeah right
Current rating: 0
01 Feb 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
while it may make us feel good that we are out marching in the street and listening to bands at that the anarchists are finally taking off their masks (wow, you can do it when you want to dance and not go home alone but you can’t do it at a demo?) but frankly, marching in the streets isnt’ going to change shit.

as it was so well said in army of darkness, “you aint’ in charge of but two things. jack and shit. and jack has left town.”

we can pat ourselves on our backs as much as we want and suck each other’s dicks just because we think we got something done. but let’s look around? the earth is dying, animals are being murdered, and humans are being pushed out onto the cold streets. now we can at least agree that bush wasn’t legally elected to office, but the mayor was. and why do these people want to be the mayor, the president, the CEO of some company? for control! but what if this job cost them something. not just their freedom from the press following them around or devling into their personal lives. but freedom from us not showing up at their homes at 3am and freedom from us not plastering the city with pictures of their faces and murder written above it. put out personal information about them: phone numbers, email addresses, etc. make it personal.

in the UK, things are different. the numbers are greater but people take this shit seriously. look at the campaign to close huntingdon life sciences (http://www.shac.net/ and http://www.shacamerica.net/). we’ve got a few political prisoners in this country for home demonstrations where shit got broken and the UK has even more. but what is so effect is that nobody wants a protester showing up at their house. mayday dc, while showing their speciesm by calling the mayor a pig, has at least picked up on this idea that it needs to be made personal.

and look at the results.

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1042491372438

Call to outlaw animal rights threats
By Geoff Dyer
Published: January 31 2003 4:00 | Last Updated: January 31 2003 4:00

The biotechnology industry has called on the government to introduce legislation that would criminalise intimidation and threats by animal rights activists.

Industry executives met ministers yesterday to call for measures to outlaw campaigns that tried to put animal testing companies and their backers out of business. These would be based on measures already used to prosecute football hooligans.

“If the intention is to damage legal businesses through demonstrations, there should be potential for criminal prosecution,” said David Chiswell, chairman of the BioIndustry Association. “How legitimate is it to demonstrate at 3am in front of someone’s house?”

The police wanted to take action, he said, but were hampered by laws that still left activists ample room to intimidate people.

The government has amended the criminal justice and police bill so that company directors under threat from activists can keep their addresses private. It has also provided banking and insurance facilities to Huntingdon Life Sciences, the testing company that has been the target of activists.

According to the BIA, in the last quarter of 2002 there were 62 home visits by activists to directors or employees of companies with links to animal testing, and 20,000 e-mails, phone calls or text messages were received.

Mr Chiswell said the government had given considerable support to the biotechnology industry on animal testing and other issues.

But he added: “The government has to recognise that this is a continuing problem, and put the appropriate resources behind it.”

As well as making it illegal to campaign with “the sole intention” of causing a business to close, the BIA called on the government to ban demonstrations outside homes. It also called for all directors’ addresses to be kept private, not just those immediately at risk.

Liberty, the civil rights campaign group, said the proposals were questionable. “There are clear controls already under public order laws that apply to demonstrations like that,” said the group.

The proposal was welcomed by the pharmaceuticals industry. “Everyone has a right to demonstrate, but surely there is no right to intimidate a person and his family for doing something that is completely lawful,” said John Patterson, chairman of the Association of British Pharmaceuticals Industry.

unity
Current rating: 0
01 Feb 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
Together it all makes a difference, there aint no one way to do it. You got your ideas, I got mine, when we all act on our ideas at once, a difference is made. That is the beauty of individuality and cooperation. Instead of blaming others and attacking those who are on your side, say good job, and continue on in your work. A lesson I need to learn as well.

Tofu-Eating Jew-Haters!
Current rating: 0
02 Feb 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
Fuck you, tofu-eating Jew-haters! How does it feel to be a bunch of mouth-breathing retards on the wrong side of history? Will you ever realize just how comical and irrelevant you are?

Got news for ya
Current rating: 0
02 Feb 2003
Modified: 11 Aug 2003
The people protesting are not “jew-haters” as you call them. However, they will not back down from what is right because someone calls them an anti-semite or tries to guilt them in backing down from their position. That just doesn’t work anymore. Save it for your next ADL meeting.