Beyond Voting Day of Action: Nov 3rd 2004

{mosimage} {multithumb} The day after the Presidential election, grassroots social justice activists planned marches to demonstrate that "Whoever Wins, the Struggle for Justice Continues".  Catalyst facilitated a planning process that brought together global justice and anti-war activists with locally based economic and racial justice activists.  The collaboration led to a highly successful Anti-Imperialist Contingent led by Siafu, Global Intifada and the Heads Up Collective 


Taking Democracy from the Polls Into the Streets

by Chris Crass

On November 3rd the march for democracy went from the polls to the streets. People across the country – in cities including Asheville, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, Tucson and in San Francisco – are declaring that the people are the decision-makers in society, not just on Election Day, but every day.

In this election between two pro-war candidates, each representing the dictatorship of the rich, there was massive voter disenfranchisement and voter intimidation targeting working class people, communities of color, young people and immigrants who are traditionally progressive/left and vote Democrat. With blatant, public efforts to undermine one of the most basic rights in a democratic society, with outrage at this imperialist system, we took to the streets to exercise our power and announce to the
world that people in the United States will continue to fight back.

At the 5pm march called by the anti-war coalition Not In Our Name, the groups Global Intifada, the Heads Up Collective and Siafu called for an Anti-Imperialist Contingent (AIC) to make visible struggles for justice in the US and around the world. Over 300 people marched in the AIC to demonstrate unity in struggle. The AIC included members from people of color and workingclass-led racial and economic justice community organizations, direct action global justice affinity groups, immigrant led-groups and white anti-racist groups.

"From Baghdad to the US/Mexico border, women, children and elders suffer and die every day because of the so-called 'War on Terrorism.' Bush has created and aided this plan for empire and Kerry didn't even pledge to stop it," says Lupe Arreola of St. Peter's Housing Committee and a member of Siafu. The AIC action focused on both the attacks against immigrant communities and the leadership of immigrants in social justice movements. St. Peters and the AIC surrounded the Mission police station and led a speak-out with street theatre denouncing the involvment of the SFPD in raids and deportations against the immigrant community. They called out for City Hall to enforce its INS raid free zone/Santuary City resolution.

Arreola continues, "We, as immigrant communities, must be out in the streets on Nov 3, in defense of democracy and in solidarity with other third world immigrants, and with the people of the world – from Port-au-Prince to West Oakland."

Raeanne Young of Global Intifada and Direct Action to Stop the War worked nationally to build the Beyond Voting campaign of mobilizing people to take to the streets Nov. 3rd. "We recognize that we cannot vote for freedom within this two party system. Real democracy comes from grassroots organizing, leadership and self-determination in our communities." She explains, "This time around we took it from the polls to the streets."

In vigils, marches and acts of civil disobedience around the country, communities committed to social justice stepped forward to reclaim democracy. Rahula Janowski of the Heads Up collective states, "As a white working class mother struggling to get by, I marched in the streets in solidarity with immigrants, communities of color and all working class people and poor people struggling to get by. We came together in the Anti-Imperialist Contingent not just to march against the Bush regime and this so-called democracy, but to work together to build a truly just society for us all."

Thanks to Ryan Phillips of Siafu and Clare Bayard of Heads Up for help with this article.

ps: pictures from the Nov 3rd marches
*This link includes pictures of the overall march with lots of pictures of the Nov 3rd march the AIC: http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/11/1703076.php

*There are pictures here from the march and an earlier Healthcare Not Warfare march at 9am on Nov 3rd in SF.
http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/11/1703133.php

*More overall pictures from Beyond Voting Nov 3rd 9am Healthcare Not Warfare march. http://www.basetree.com/photos/beyond-voting.html

pss: additionally, this is a speech from Mel Pilbin of the Heads Up
collective at the day-after-the-election protest at Powell and Market

We Continue the Struggle Against Imperialism
by Mel Pilbin

It's great to see you all out tonight. It's so important that we are in the streets today to express our outrage and demonstrate the power of our movements. My name is Mel Pilbin and I am a member of the Heads Up Collective and part of tonight's Anti-Imperialist Contingent. Heads Up is honored to be speaking. The connections that are being made in this march between U.S. imperialist war and the war on the working poor and people of color in this country are exactly the types of connections we need to be making to help build power and unity as a left radical movement. And power and movement building are going to be more necessary than ever over the next four years.

The Heads Up Collective formed shortly after September 11th to do anti-war organizing in the Bay Area that made explicit the connections to the wars being waged domestically. We are a white, anti-racist, anti-imperialist collective that prioritizes doing movement building work with economic and racial justice struggles led by poor people and people of color. We organize in the anti-war and global justice movements with a focus on Palestinian liberation and supporting anti-racist analysis and practice among predominately white sectors. Our overarching goal is to help build revolutionary, multi-racial, working-class led movements in the Bay Area.

Heads Up joins today with Siafu, Global Intifada, and our close allies to form the Anti-Imperialist Contingent. Siafu is a delegation of Bay Area anti-imperialist activists of color and white anti-racist allies that came together to protest the RNC. Global Intifada is a multi-racial affinity group within Direct Action to Stop the War that has a strong focus on supporting Palestinian Liberation and resisting racist attacks on civil liberties.

Our theme for tonight¹s march is the "Ghosts of the dead and the disappeared". In the tradition of Dia de los Muertos, we mourn the victims and honor the lives of those killed at the hands of U.S. Imperialism. Imperialism is the global system that causes the war abroad and the war at home in the U.S. We come together tonight to help make visible the struggles of Third World peoples around the globe as well as the policies that make those struggles necessary.

Today we are faced with the same system that we were faced with yesterday and therefore we have the same task we have always had; to build a broad and powerful revolutionary grassroots movement led by exploited and oppressed people and ready to challenge U.S. imperialism in solidarity with grassroots movements on a global scale.

As white folks in the movement we need to continue to build on the connections between local struggles and movements on an international level and work to support the leadership coming from oppressed communities. This is not just about liberation of other people, but also about our own liberation from these systems of oppression and from Capitalism.

We know we cannot vote for freedom within this two party system. We know real democracy comes from grassroots organizing, leadership and self-determination in oppressed communities.

Despite the disappointing outcome of the elections, I am inspired by what we are a part of building here and now. As we march today challenging the war in Iraq, the occupation of Palestine and U.S. intervention globally, we must also continue to challenge the daily war waged against exploited and oppressed communities within this country. Understanding how the issues are interconnected brings our movements together. We must continue to join in struggle to unify our movement and build power for what lies ahead.

The Heads Up Collective is proud to be in the streets with all of you tonight expressing our outrage and demonstrating our hope and revolutionary vision for a world beyond the Bush regime and Beyond U.S. Imperialism.

*Messaging developed by the Anti-Imperialist Contingent was used in this speech.

 

Read an Article from the Bay Guardian by Camille T. Taira