Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recreate-68, Alliance for Democracy meet, fail to resolve differences over nonviolence

From a book-flogging blog modestly titled "Global Sense" (the blog and the book):
Representatives for many of the citizen groups planning events during the Democratic National Convention met together in Denver last Sunday morning, July 20, with the dual purpose of sharing information about their plans and trying to heal a rift among the activists.

There was only token representation from the Alliance for Real Democracy (ARD), which is the group that split off from Recreate 68 because R68 has refused to publicly renounce any and all use of violence at the DNC. . . .

Unconventional Denver has not openly declared their action plans beyond saying they want to “disrupt” the convention. An affiliate of the Unconventional Action coalition, this group opposes “electoral politics” with an upraised black fist as its symbol. They remind me of the radical socialist groups in the Vietnam War era.

The Alliance for Real Democracy, in contrast, plans to build “Resurrection City” with an art and music festival as their nonviolent way of protesting the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as calling attention to global climate change.

Some of the groups that actually were represented at the consulta included Code Pink (playfully creative nonviolent street theater protests), Food Not Bombs (feeding those in “tent city” and other protester encampments), The People Call For Change (PC4C - evening programs during the DNC to build a positive vision of the future), The World is Listening (a thousand compassionate listeners at the DNC so people can speak out rather than act out), and the Network for Spiritual Progressives (NSP - holding a two day interfaith conference at the start of the DC with Rabbi Michael Lerner and others supporting the Global Marshall Plan).
Perhaps half of the consulta was devoted to talking about the schism between R68 and ARD. For some there, this dispute was philosophical. For others the dispute was emotional, as if those who left R68 to start ARD had committed a personal betrayal. . . .

Seeking clarity during the consulta, I asked overtly for a show of hands by those who believe violence is acceptable at the DNC. Only a few hands went into the air. The comments in the discussion that followed my question, however, told me that many in the meeting hold a belief that the police plan to get violent, and many of the activists there belive they’d be justified responding in kind. I felt my heart sink.
He's just now figuring out the "self-defense" ploy?
Because the ARD members and others who do not sanction violence (even if called “self defence”) sent only token representation to the consulta — or else stayed away entirely — the rift between Recreate68 and its Alliance for Real Democracy offshoot, in my view, may be too deep to bridge, given the rifts of philosophy and ego.

However, the consulta attendees agreed the next three-hour meeting in August will include an hour devoted to reconciliation between the factions. This will be facilitated by The World is Listening and one of my ministerial colleagues in the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

With the convention only weeks away by then, a reconciliation at the next consulta may or may not produce tangible results during the DNC, such as one massive coordinated march that fills the streets with peaceful people before the world media. Instead, I belive there will be a series of separate protests, mostly peaceful and some not so.
Sounds about right.
Yet the attempt at mediation and reconciliation may have some long-term benefits. Can those calling for the end of war learn to practice peace in their own community? I hope so. As Gandhi advocated, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.
Update: Notice that though Glenn Spagnuolo still claims R!68 represents over 40 groups, it appears now to be only them and Unconventional Achtung. Some grassroots organization.

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