BACKSTORY of the Protests at the Republican National Convention, Philadelphia 2000
FROM: The Ten Year Anniversary of the Protests
2010 marks 10 years since Philadelphia was the site of the 2000 Republican National Convention. The week of August 1, 2000, thousands of activists took to the streets of Center City Philadelphia for direct action against police brutality and the prison industrial complex and so very much more.
We were riding an exciting wave of mass direct actions against global capitalism following the previous November’s actions which shut down the meetings of the World Trade Organization in Seattle and large scale street actions against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in DC. This summer, we celebrate our fighting spirit 10 years ago, and celebrate our resilience in surviving R2K!
While activists from Philadelphia and afar were organizing to shut down the city in August 2000 and simultaneously helping with vast logistical needs for the multitude of other protests and actions that week in Philly, the Philadelphia Police Department (in tandem with the District Attorney’s office and judges) were planning repression on a scale we hadn’t anticipated.
In the months leading up to the RNC, organizers were spied on, picked off the street, infiltrated and harassed.
On August 1st, starting with an early morning raid of a warehouse and mass arrest of artists and puppet makers, cops chased and brutally beat activists on the streets with blessings of police commissioner John Timoney and the DA Lynne Abraham — and a million dollar insurance policy protecting the City against police brutality lawsuits.
Because police destroyed hundreds of our puppets, including skeletons representing the loss of 138 people that George W. Bush had executed as Texas governor, the corporate media told the world we had no message.
But we also created a new independent media, with collective use of internet, camera, radio and writing skills, which became Philly IMC. And while in jail, organizers met with “general population” detainees and publicized a list of demands: no more waiting 2 or more years to go to court, no more beatings, prompt medical attention, and more.
For many who organized for, attended and/or stayed around after to deal with the legal defense, the RNC was a transformative event. For some of us it was our first protest and led us down a road of lifelong struggle. While for others, the repression meant it would be the last time we would ever attend a protest again.
Many of us who are currently still active 10 years down the road still draw on the lessons learned while organizing as well as the trust and shared struggle from the RNC to further our current work. The best way to heal from trauma is to tell our stories together. Let’s support each other to build collective healing and share our lessons with newer activists.