July 4, 2016
People from all walks of life will be marching on the Republican National Convention. Workers World spoke to some committed activists who have been organizing for the “Shut down Trump and the RNC” march to take place Sunday, July 17, on the eve of the convention.
Donnie Pastard is a longtime Cleveland community activist. She has also been organizing a “Real Cleveland Neighborhoods” tour to show the devastation wrought by the economy outside of the ritzy downtown area where the convention is happening.
“There are many reasons this march is important to me,” she said. “My reasons can be summed up in the words of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West: ‘There are over 150 million poor people in America [USA] who are not responsible for the damage done to them by the elite society. The poor did not create the deindustrialization of America, the poor do not start wars, and the poor didn’t create greed.’ The bought-and-paid-for government in the USA obliges Wall Street on the backs of the poor, and the poor are paying a heavy price.”
The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association is sending a delegation to the march. DAREA President Bill Davis explained: “I think we all have to stand up for the rights of all people. We will not stand by and let the RNC take us back to the 1930’s Nazi Germany!”
Southerners are mobilizing too. “This year we have decided to mobilize a caravan from North Carolina to Cleveland because it is an especially polarizing time for our class,” said Dhruv Pathak, a Charlotte, N.C., labor and community activist. “Racist billionaire Donald Trump is bringing out the most hateful, racist, Islamophobic sections of this country. So it is our duty as activists, organizers and socialists to mobilize to show these bigots that hate won’t be allowed, and wherever there is hate that it will be met with a fightback.”
Standing up to intimidation
Marching on the RNC demands courage and conviction. A mob of Trump supporters is descending upon Cleveland, and some of them have physically assaulted anti-Trump protesters already. Ohio is an “open carry” state, meaning that outside of the convention space, where firearms are prohibited, they can brandish their guns in public.
The people of Cleveland, especially people of color, are facing threats simply by living there.
Terrea Mitchell, an organizer and activist with New York People’s Power Assembly, is going “basically to support the activists there on the ground in Cleveland. Cleveland is a majority Black city that is being gentrified and during the convention space it is going to be taken over by a lot of right-wing folk. And it’s important that the activists there on the ground have folks coming out to support them because they’re facing violence and intimidation from the folks that will be attending the RNC. There are racist, fascist and white supremacist groups that will be descending upon Cleveland that, in my mind, will be there with the purpose of trying to incite violence,” she explained.
State repression against the right to protest, which has already begun with door-knocking by the FBI, Cleveland police and others, is another form of intimidation that both anti-Trump activists and city residents are being subjected to.
The city administration has established an “event zone,” within which free speech barely exists during the convention. The zone was made smaller after a lawsuit was filed, but still extends for blocks in any direction from the RNC site. There is only one permissible march route inside the zone and marchers have only 50 minutes to begin and end their march. A “Dump Trump” march planned for the Monday the convention opens has been denied a permit to start from Public Square, the heart of downtown Cleveland.
The movement knows from past convention protest experience that they are the ones being targeted. As Mitchell stated, “It seems that the Cleveland police are not going to be going against those [RNC] people but are going to be tough on the left contingent.”
People all over the country are refusing to be intimidated. Shut down Trump and the RNC! See iacenter.org for protest calendar.