DNC Protest, Split, and the Principled Stand of Cynthia McKinney

Protest plans have been in the works against the Democratic National Convention (DNC) for some time now, with organizers opposing the Democrat Party’s policies of war and occupation, backing of continued corporate policies that cause global warming, and their attacks on immigrants.

The people who have been organizing the protest schedule formed a coalition called Recreate ‘68. A rightward split has occurred in this coalition, and another group has also been formed called the Alliance for Real Democracy. The Alliance for Real Democracy is organizing their own separate events, one of which is a reception for Democrat Party delegates complete with drinks and BBQ.

The Alliance for Real Democracy is made up of the Colorado Green Party, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Colorado Street Medics, and Students for Peace and Justice.

While the Alliance for Real Democracy consists largely of white liberals who are trying to influence the hopelessly corporate run Democrat Party, Recreate ‘68 is made up primarily of minorities, socialists, anarchists, communists, and other radicals who have fewer illusions in reforming the Democrat Party and who instead want to organize the power of the people.

Glen Spagnuelo, spokesperson of Recreate ‘68, says he’s not bothered by the formation of the Alliance for Real Democracy, because both groups oppose the war in Iraq and neither is advocating a violent protest.

Yet, the Alliance for Real Democracy has gotten extensive coverage in the corporate media of Colorado for their violence baiting Recreate ‘68. The stand of Recreate ‘68 is, however, one where they simply explain that they are not planning violence, but if the police attack them, they do not disavow the right of protesters to self-defense.

As Benjamin Whitmer of Denver explained in the letters column of the Rocky Mountain Times in a June 5, 2008 letter entitled, “Re-create 68 members aren’t violent extremists”:

I’m a little confused as to the media’s portrayal of Glenn Spagnuolo and the members of Re-create 68 as violent extremists. Though Mr. Spagnuolo is getting painted as Vlad the Impaler with a bag full of severed heads, I’ve yet to hear of him engaging in a single act of violent protest. Moreover, I’ve attended several Re-create 68 meetings — meetings which, it’s worth noting, are never without a media presence — and have yet to hear a single suggestion of violent protest from him or from anyone else attending.

The controversy seems to stem from Re-create 68’s refusal to disallow the right to self-defense to its members. Re-create 68’s explanation of this refusal is clear. There will be people protesting with Re-create 68 arm-in-arm with their children and elders. In large part, these will be representatives of communities which have most suffered from the never-ending betrayal of the Democrats. To attempt to deny them the right to defend themselves is to deny a fundamental human right.

Yet, the Alliance for Real Democracy is demanding everyone roll over and die when and if they are violently attacked by the police, and painting those who do not have such a commitment as “violent”. The coverage their denunciations have received in the corporate media play into the hands of government attempts to deny permits, and, ultimately plays into the hands of police violence if the government does decide to physically attack these protests. In fact, the Alliance for Real Democracy’s denunciations of the right to self-defense and denunciations of Recreate ‘68 as “violent” creates a ready made excuse for the police and government that may actually cause police violence.

In addition, the Green Party of Colorado has issued false statements to the press and all over the internet claiming that Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will not be participating in the Recreate ’68 events. Here is one such statement from Dave Chandler, co-chair of the Colorado Green Party, Green Party candidate for U.S. Congress in the Seventh Congressional District, and supporter of a Denver ballot measure that would seize the vehicles of illegal immigrants:

“Cynthia McKinney, Green Party candidate for President, and Rosa Clemente, Green Party candidate for Vice President are NOT participating in any Recreate ‘68 activities. Both candidates, and the Green Party of Colorado, are refuting this announcement and are stating that neither candidate, nor the Green Party of Colorado, are in any way associated with Recreate ’68, nor will any of their candidates be speaking at or attending any event, nor are they in any way associated with the group Recreate ’68.”

This is a blatant lie. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente will be speaking at the Recreate ’68 events.

Liberation News does not endorse the Cynthia McKinney campaign, partly because she is running on the platform of the capitalist Green Party. Yet, she has the right positions on many issues, and does show what a candidate who is not beholden to corporate interests can speak out on, such as for single payer healthcare, immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and for freeing political prisoners in the U.S. like Mumia Abu-Jamal.

It is for these reasons, and the good principled stand that McKinney is taking on the protests at the Democrat National Committee, standing up to the leadership of the Green Party of Colorado, that Liberation News prints Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente’s statement on the DNC in full:


Open Letter from Cynthia McKinney

As the United States activated Navy ships and the Air Force to begin an airlift of non-specified goods into the former Soviet state of Georgia, and military exercises began in the Persian Gulf near Iran, I received communications from certain individuals among the Colorado Greens who were organizing campaign support events there, suggesting that I not participate in an anti-war program being organized by other individuals in Colorado.

Perplexed, I began to do my research to understand the nature of the fissure that I seemed to be placing myself in the middle of. The communications to me about not participating in one of the scheduled events became more and more shrill. The events ran through August 26th. When the lineup of speakers, including Rosa and me, was announced for the events in question, I received multiple communications stating in various ways that the sender from the Green Party of Colorado, was on the verge of desperation over the latter.

Within a few hours, I was reading messages stating that the Green Party of Colorado would be ruined if I participated in the End the Occupations/End the War march and rally slated to take place on the morning of August 24th on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, or if Rosa participated in a Freedom March and Rally for Human Rights and Political Prisoners at Civic Center Park the following day.

An article appeared in a local Colorado newspaper stating that Rosa and I would not appear at the events for which we had been scheduled. Rosa responded to our Colorado Green Party contact that yes, indeed, we were appearing at the two events. Both Rosa and I then received messages demanding to know by a time certain what our plans were, and asserting that the Green Party of Colorado would be totally ruined if we associated with the group sponsoring the events. In addition, we were told that at least one resignation and sustaining membership would be tendered to the Party, and that Rosa and I could expect no support on the ground in Denver from the Green Party of Colorado, including a planned fundraiser and a place to stay.

Without receiving any additional response or information from either Rosa or I, the correspondent sent a message informing us that all Green Party of Colorado events previously scheduled for us had been canceled. Further, the message stated that ballot access petitioning by Green Party of Colorado would cease in neighboring Wyoming and that all efforts would be made to remove Rosa’s and my names from the ballot in Colorado. The message also noted that the Colorado delegation overwhelmingly supported Elaine Brown at the Green Party Convention.

With the e-mail messages flying “fast and furious,” I hope I have mentioned the highlights of this episode in somewhat chronological order. What Rosa and I would like to address now, is the ideological and rational order that produced this outcome. At the very first Green Party debate held in San Francisco earlier this year, I pleaded for unity of action and purpose as we face the challenges that confront us as a country. Rosa and I are proud to join with others who are sick and tired of war, occupation, human rights abuses, and the continued incarceration of our political prisoners. We are proud to join with others who are willing to do something about it. In the context of activities in Denver, that means cooperating with some organizations new to us and others with which Rosa and I have had a long-standing relationship. Let me explain some of those relationships.

I am proud to have received a Backbone Award from the Backbone Campaign, one of the co-participants of the anti-war, anti-occupation events in question, according to the organizers.

Rosa and I are pleased to have received the endorsement of M-1 of Dead Prez, who put out a video of endorsement and is rallying other conscious Hip Hop, Generation X voters to the Green Party with Rosa and I as its nominees. Rebel Diaz was on the stage with Rosa as she accepted her Green Party nomination for Vice President. Both Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz are participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Fred Hampton, Jr.’s mother, a victim of COINTELPRO, came to Georgia in the mid-1990s to help me gain reelection after a malicious redistricting case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Ward Churchill has traveled to my Congressional district to educate my former constituents on the COINTELPRO of yesterday and the COINTELPRO of today. Natsu Saito introduced me to other victims of COINTELPRO. I asked Kathleen Cleaver to co-author a report that was submitted to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of the World Conference Against Racism, on the unsolved murders of Black Panther Party members who were victims of COINTELPRO. Fred Hampton, Jr., Ward Churchill, Natsu Saito, and Kathleen Cleaver are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

As a Member of Congress, I supported the release of all political prisoners and welcomed information from the American Indian Movement about Leonard Peltier. I have at many times in my political career been allied with the ACLU, and have always supported Pam and Ramona Africa and the MOVE Organization. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, King Downing of the ACLU, and Pam and Ramona Africa of MOVE are all participating in the events in question, according to the organizers.

Mumia Abu Jamal has endorsed the Power to the People Campaign and my Green Party candidacy. According to the organizers, Mumia will transmit a message to all of us participating in the events in question.

Finally, I have appeared on various stages with many Palestinians; I have proudly spoken at rallies organized by Larry Holmes. Debra Sweet with World Can’t Wait was among the very first to my knowledge to organize around impeachment as an imperative and I support hers and all other impeachment groups in their efforts. And finally, I have known Ben Manski for a long time as a socially conscious activist who is also a member of the Green Party. According to the organizers, a Palestinian refugee is slated to speak at the events in question, as well as Larry Holmes, Debra Sweet, and Ben Manski.

Rosa and I have not been given any rational, ideological, or strategically-acceptable reason by the Green Party of Colorado to dissociate ourselves from the movement that this country so desperately needs and that these individuals and organizations participating represent, as we all attempt to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its complicity in all of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Therefore Rosa and I will keep our appointments in Denver and we hope that the members of the Green Party of Colorado will attend our sessions and listen to what we have to say. I have faith that by taking principled stands against war and occupation, human rights abuse, the prison-industrial complex, and in support of freedom for political prisoners, the Green party will emerge stronger.

Cynthia McKinney
Green Party Nominee for President of the United States

Rosa Clemente
Green Party Nominee for Vice President of the United States

Steven Argue is the editor of Liberation News. He can be reached at: steveargue2@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Steven, or visit Steven's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Dave Silver said on August 17th, 2008 at 6:37am #

    Cynthia and Rosa. Right On. The Alliance for Real Democracy and particularly UFPJ and code Pink once again show their true opportunist
    political stripes exposing their anti-communism in Left-l;iberal disguise. They supported for instance the orange flag wavers in the Ukraine against Moscow while getting support from ther CIA. They were to be embraced as “dissidents.” UFPJ supported a tour by the IRAQI fEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS that supported the Occupation, supported the puppet regime and wanted the troops troops to stay in Iraq. And forever tailing the Democrats feeding the illusion it can be part of the solution rather the problem.
    Recreate 68.
    Dave Silver

  2. Eric Patton said on August 17th, 2008 at 8:45am #

    If Leslie Cagan (UFPJ) and Medea Benjamin (Code Pink) are there, you know it’s going to be a liberal love-fest.

    I’m surprised to see IVAW on that list, but I guess Kelly Dougherty has decided to join the festivities as well. And I’m sure Hayden, Fletcher, Ehrenreich, Parry, and vanden Heuval (Progressives for Obama) will be joining them for beer and chicken wings, even if they haven’t officially RSVP’ed yet.

  3. ron said on August 17th, 2008 at 9:35am #

    Too bad that IVAW decided to join with UFPJ against ReCreate 68. I wonder what RATM thinks about this, given that they are putting on a free concert there under the auspices of the liberals. Carl Davidson (a progressive for Obama–whatever that means) is dissing the Recreate 68 people while he helps arrange a welcoming BBQ for Obama. The antiwar movement needs to quit taking money and orders from the Democrats. They are not antiwar–just look at their platform.

  4. Rich Griffin said on August 17th, 2008 at 11:12am #

    I do wish Green party members would stop with the threats, esp. around ballot access! How sad is that?? We don’t have to all agree in lockstep; instead, it’s the harder work of finding the common ground that we can work together with and get things headed in a totally different direction in our lifetimes.

    Bravo, Cynthia and Rosa!! (:

  5. Eric Patton said on August 17th, 2008 at 11:44am #

    Don’t worry. Davidson won’t be able to partake of any of the barbecue he procures, since he’d have to stop fellating Obama long enough to do so.

  6. HR said on August 17th, 2008 at 12:20pm #

    Looking foward to a disintegration of sellout dems, nothing more than a ghost of a party, on the 40th anniversary of the party’s death, in Chicago, in 1968. Good riddance to their fake progressivism, fake opposition and their phony candidates. Time for a new beginning, and the mess that McCain will give us will be just the thing to cause that to happen. And, “… most important election ever,” my foot. That’s the crap they sold us in 2004 and 2006.

  7. Deadbeat said on August 17th, 2008 at 2:07pm #

    The Alliance for Real Democracy is made up of the Colorado Green Party, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Colorado Street Medics, and Students for Peace and Justice

    Code Pink sabotaged the Green Party and Nader in2004 and UFPJ sabotaged the 2003 anti-war movement. The Left must jettison these two group. Why were they even part of the alliance? The Left needs to know who the allies and comrades are in order to build overall trust and unity.

  8. Tom Herring said on August 17th, 2008 at 8:30pm #

    Cynthia and Rosa, right on. You two are a beacon for honesty. Dont let the capon-hearted get you down.

  9. Martha said on August 18th, 2008 at 9:08am #

    Deadbeat, amen on who destroyed the Greens in 2004. One thing, when did Leslie Cagen start being called a ‘liberal’? Remember the board meeting where she refused to answer if she was a Communist? Why is she (and UPFJ) so inept? Because a grown woman can’t ‘fess up to what she is. Appparently, we need support groups for the politically closeted. I look forward to The Nation magazine cover with Leslie’s grinning face and the headline “Yep, I am!” Maybe Katrina can pose on it with her?
    They’re inept because they’re dishonest. They draw the lines between themselves and others because they’re scared of being politically outed by proximity.

  10. Ivy Rose Nightscales said on August 21st, 2008 at 3:43pm #

    Cynthia Mckinney and Rosa Clemente make history as brave, strong spoken women of color. They have my respect . If you vote, a vote for them is worth a lot for power for the people. Keep on keepin on Cynthia and Rosa. You have our love.

  11. Deadbeat said on August 21st, 2008 at 7:18pm #

    The McKinney and Clemente ticket by the Greens seems interesting on the surface. However I thought Elaine Brown would have been bolder and more radical, and a more interesting and exciting choice as Presidential candidate. She’s an excellent speaker and tells it like it is.

    However there is something that doesn’t seem to add up about the McKinney/Clemente ticket fielded by the Greens especially when contrast against the reasons why Ms. Brown left the Green Party.

    If Obama wasn’t running this year and had Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination then the chances for McKinney/Clemente to attract African Americans into the Greens especially in the urban areas would be greater. IMO if the Greens really want to challenge the Democrats they have to attract African Americans and Latinos. McKinney does have a good track record here.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that she is showing up on the radar screens. The focus at least by the media still seems to be on Nader and he seems to have lost some momentum based on recent polls.

    I also do not think that the Greens have really dealt with their weak internal structures that permitted the likes of Code Pink and David Cobb to sabotage the party. Because the Greens were a real threat to the Democrats in 2004 is why faux activists like Medea Benjamin sabotaged the Greens from within and the big Left celebs (Chomsky, Zinn, Albert, etc) generally abandoned Nader. Thus the Greens have been neutralized and are no threat to the Democrats and is why they’ve been ignored. Essentially McKinney’s run in 2008 is more symbolic than substantive.

    IMO McKinney’s run at best will be the basis for rebuilding the Green Party. On the other hand McKinney/Clemente gives those on the “Left” the out and “feel good” they need to vote for an African American/woman candidate without having to vote for Obama.

    Thus I do hope that McKinney is not being “played” by the “Left” but that she and Clemente will sometime in the future (it won’t happen this year) eventually offer a real third party alternative.

  12. swaneagle harijan said on August 25th, 2008 at 9:11am #

    For many years, i have done all i can to address the whiteness and privilege of the Green Party. When Cindy Sheehan came to speak on Vashon, She said it should be called the White Party. I am happy to see Cynthia and Rosa on the ticket and see this as a good sign. But the infrastructure needs serious attention. I have always felt that the key value of “Respect for Diversity” was way weak and that it should be replaced with ” Dismantling Bigotry and Ending Genocide”.

    My traditional Native American friends and i have HUGE issues with Ward Churchill and his known macho overeducated white guy stance, but that is for another time…

    I am not surprised at the exclusionary actions of Code Pink as i have encountered their elitism in various places in the West. The same can be said for some Green Partys, but personally, i find the Green Party one of the most conscious and workable groups i have come across in my decades of activism. Somewhere we have to find a basis to work from that is truly inclusive. I can understand how this division occurred having been part of the WTO protests and hearing first hand from my friends of color why they either did not participate or did their own thing due to the ongoing racism of leftists that still plagues this country.

    I believe that if the progressive left had truly done it’s homework around issues of exclusion and oppression, we would not still be dealing with such division to this day. Whether it is a woman being raped by an anarchist icon or a Native American from the rez being completely silenced, the crap continues. Then those with MOST privilege turn their backs on the rest of us who don’t fit the acceptable bill. I am sick to death of elitism. It may kill us all with it’s so called nonviolent cruelty and silencing. Shame on you Medea Benjamin….again.

    Beware of the covert manipulations of Ward Churchill, John Zerzan and others who are extremely privileged and speak in the tradition of white male dominators. They have left a trail behind them…

    It is time to listen to TRADITIONAL NATIVE AMERICANS, to women, to all communities of color that are most impacted by fascism and the migrants forced to leave their homes due to US fascist corporate greed. We do not need the manipulaters of Colorado with their money and hidden agendas ruining any chance the voiceless has. Just watch who get to be heard after Cynthia and Rosa speak. We must vigilant about who is allowed to speak.

    We HAVE to start somewhere and i am voting for Cynthia and Rosa. Sorry the Colorado Greens don’t get it.

  13. ubuntu said on August 26th, 2008 at 6:51pm #

    I am sad but not surprised to hear of the split, but consider this kind of thing inevitable at this point, with the lack of this country’s experience in doing broad movement-building. However, I am troubled to hear of the actions taken by CO’s State Green Party.