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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: DNC
Dems Begin Damage Control Over Protest Pits
28 Jul 2004
Modified: 29 Jul 2004
On Wednesday afternoon, a "ad hoc" group of Democratic delegates held a press conference in the DNC protest pit with the stated intention to "speak out against the conditions within the protest zone" and "call on the Democratic Party leadership to also make a public statement opposing the zone."

But any possibility the event would represent real political movement on the convention floor was sooned dashed as the bright lights and cameras dazzled delegate spokespeople into the usual partisan song and dance blaming the protest pens on Bush and absolving the democrats of any responsibility.

Save Our Civil Liberties (, sponsor of the Monday morning street theatre action that garnered national media coverage, was again present to hold the dems accountable.

About 15 activists, draped in black hoods with hands bound, lined the Canal Street entrance into the protest pit.

Signs reading "Stop Homeland Repression" and "Dissent Is Not Terrorism" framed the participants, most on their knees or lying prone on the cement. Delegates, media and the general public entering the protest pit were forced to walk through and over the pit "prisoners".

"We were there to hold the democrats accountable for their silence over the barbed wire rimmed protest pit that lies in the shadow of the Fleet Center," said Laurel Ripple, who was falsely arrested and pepper sprayed during the 2003 FTAA protests in Miami. "The street theatre was a powerful reminder to the human costs of their inaction."

Delegates told the press that Kerry is pro-civil liberties but later conceeded the limitations of the Democratic Party platform towards the Patriot Act and other civil liberties issues. Out of fear of appearing soft on "terrorism" the Democrats have backed down from a repeal of the Patriot Act in their convention platform and have merely moderated several provisions such as the right to law enforcement library searches.

Jason Swatzki, delegate outreach coordinator for the Backbone Campaign apologized to the media for lack of Democratic attention and said that "change takes time" within the party [yawn].

When pressed to define what the "ad hoc" group of delegates would be doing to move these issues on the convention floor, he replied there was nothing they could do right now because there was "other convention business they had to take care of."

Towards the end of the hour-long street theatre action, the hooded "prisoners" began chanting an open question to the Kerry campaign, "Hey Kerry what do ya say, will protest pits go away?"

As long as there is "other convention business" to take care of, the answer seems clear. While a sliver of hope exists that Democrats can turn the tide on the criminalization of dissent, activists know that regardless of the answer, creative resistence to the corporate duopoly of democrats and republicans will continue.
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