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Protesters Use Denver Convention as Forum

NAM Special Exchange with The Final Call, News Report, Ashahed M. Muhammad Posted: Aug 26, 2008

DENVERProtesters marked the beginning of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver by demanding justice for political prisoners, redistribution of Americas wealth to help the poor, and an end to what they perceive as a failed economic and political system that leaves a majority of Americans without a voice.

The Recreate 68 Alliance held an End the Occupation: End the War rally and March on Aug. 24, drawing close to 1,500 vocal protesters, many of whom were not yet born in 1968. The organizers have planned protests at various locations during the entire duration of the DNC.

Despite the heavy police presence in Denver, seemingly in preparation for unrest, organizers say they simply want to have their voices heard and to be recognized for having the desire to make a difference. These are laudable goals, according to activist and Black Panther Party icon Kathleen Cleaver.

Its not the same movement (as in 1968)," she told The Final Call. "What it is the same bunch of criminals that are perpetuating imperialist aggression and war with the same devastating consequences directed against the people. The war is a war against the people."

Cleaver also warned against people looking at the political ascension of Sen. Barack Obama as an indicator that things are not as bad as they seem.

People who think that are looking for a way to avoid acknowledging how bad things are. So this is an opportunity for them. The people who are in the thick of how bad things are dont say that. The gap in between the wealthy and the poor living in the United States is greater now than at any time since the depression, so the people saying those things must be on that end of being benefited -- they are not on the end of being stomped on."

Organizers for the Recreate 68 Alliance say that when they talk about recreating the events of 1968, they are not talking about recreating the violent riots which were seen in 1968 in which, according to accounts, protesters were tear-gassed, beaten with nightsticks, and arrested for holding massive protests during the time of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago under then Mayor Richard J. Daley.

M1 from Dead Prez told the crowd that Mumia Abu Jamal sent a message to those in attendance at the rally that they do not need to recreate 68, they need to do 2008.

Its a slogan and if people were just going off the slogan, then they were wrong, said Ms. Clemente, who appeared at the rally with Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, despite the fact that the Green Party in Colorado tried to prevent them from appearing at the rally. Ms. Clemente said local Green Party officials tried to discourage attendance at the rally and march by spreading the word that the rally was canceled, and that the local Green Party is actually trying to get the McKinney/Clemente ticket removed from the ballot in Colorado.

Ms. Cleaver saw this as evidence of the same Cointelpro tactics of the 60s. She also decried the political system of the United States, saying that although the Republicans and Democrats use different symbols and are represented by different candidates, they are in reality two wings of the capitalist party.

This sentiment was shared by outspoken critic of the Bush administration and former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill.

Its not two parties, they're two sides of a coin," said Churchill, who is still involved in a legal battle with the University of Colorado which pressured him to resign after some writings and comments made immediately after 9/11 in which he said it was a case of justice and the chickens coming home to roost."

Numerous protests are planned by a variety of organizations throughout the days of the convention. The Progressive Democrats of America have a nightly schedule of speakers, including Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus and Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and advocate of womens rights in the military. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has scheduled a protest rally on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

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