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SDS Call to Action: Disrupt the DNC!
At our 2007 national convention, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) passed a proposal endorsing the work of groups organizing against the RNC and encouraging folks within SDS to organize against both the RNC and the DNC. Organizing against the Democratic National Convention (DNC)–which will take place from August 24th through 28th in Denver, Colorado–has grown at a considerable pace over the last year, including a significant radical and anti-authoritarian presence. However, though much important work has already been accomplished, it seems many remain captivated by the electoral spectacle and false promises of hope and change.
Many within SDS have grown increasingly excited about the prospect of achieving a significant victory at the DNC, thereby giving our movement a much needed influx of new energy, tactics, and experiences prior to the RNC, while also exposing the two-party monopoly for what it really is: a war party sold out and beholden to the same corporate interests as the GOP. A clear victory against the Democratic Party and Republican Party, in these uncertain times, gives radical communities a unique opportunity for exposure as a clear alternative to the two party system and the liberal left.
If we, as a radical movement, are going to attempt to pressure the Democratic Party candidates, the time to do so is before they are elected. We can’t roll over and wait until they are in office. But on the other hand, if we, as a radical movement, seek to utilize direct action to bypass the mechanisms and apparatus of the State, opting in stead to actively (re)create and establish viable, sustainable, decentralized, localized, horizontal, and participatory modes of communal self-governance, we must also challenge the Democrats, sending the message that in pressuring them, we are in no way endorsing or legitimizing their power, authority, or rule. In fact, we seek to abolish it, as well as all other coercive mechanisms of the State. If we think a movement can exist out of electoral politics, then we must reclaim the mantel of dissent. With these things in mind, we have several questions for the Democrats, as well as for ourselves:
• If voters gave control of Congress to Democrats in 2006–rather explicitly (and belatedly) due to dissatisfaction with the Iraq war–why is the United States still in Iraq?
• Why is it that none of the presidential candidates (Democratic Party or otherwise) pay any attention to polls of people in the country the U.S. has made such a mess of, in which overwhelming proportions of the people simply want the U.S. out, now?
• How are any of the elites in the U.S. political mainstream demonstrating any respect for “democracy” when they ignore the opinions not only of their own constituents but of the people who are most directly affected? Who, of these elites, can we acquit of war crimes? And how, if we offer support to any of these elites, do we escape complicity with these war crimes ourselves?
• By resisting (or refusing to participate in) the limiting mechanisms of the electoral process, do we, through inaction, effectively condone war crimes by failing to do everything we can to stop them? Or is it that by refusing to engage in concerted direct action (and failing to recognize that the political mechanisms of the State are both ineffectual and illegitimate), we, through inaction, are effectively complicit in war crimes by failing to do everything we can to stop them?
Across the country, groups have been talking–and talking seriously–about disrupting the DNC by means of direct action. The DNC–like the RNC–is shaping up to be an event that we won’t want to miss. But unlike the RNC, the DNC gives us the additional opportunity of saying NO to the narrow (two party monopoly) options provided by the State. We feel that the DNC is equally as important as the RNC, as neither party represents the people. We also feel that if there is no radical presence at the DNC, radicals at the RNC appear to be supporting the Democrats, when in fact we oppose the whole system. In the face of the last eight years, let us not forget the prior eight year Democratic presidency of Bill Clinton, which brought us NAFTA, 500,000 dead Iraqis, welfare reform, militarization of the US-Mexico border, etc.
For SDS, the call to disrupt the DNC (as well as the RNC) offers a tremendous opportunity to plug into what will likely be a major mobilization. Under the direct action strategy being discussed, SDS chapters can participate in this disruption by selecting and utilizing the tactics with which they are most comfortable. The direct action framework will allow SDS chapters to work with those engaging in similar tactics, both within and outside SDS. Finally, chapters are free to theme their actions how they see fit and there could conceivably be SDS actions highlighting everything from the role and complicity of the Democratic Party in the occupation of Iraq, to immigration and poverty, to the rising cost of tuition. Regardless of the themes and tactics chosen, imagine the excitement that we would all feel if SDS held down a few intersections and played a key role in shutting down the DNC… *
To that end, we are calling on SDS chapters to both endorse and participate in the direct action strategies for disrupting the DNC layed forward by Unconventional Action, DNC Disruption, Recreate ‘68, and Tent State. We are calling on SDS chapters to embrace a diversity of tactics and both endorse and participate in the model of dual power utilized by Recreate ‘68 in their effort to support the needs of their community while explicitly confronting the false illusions of electoral “democracy.” Those participating in direct action to shut down the DNC will be free to shape their actions as they see fit, using the tactics they consider appropriate.
We are calling on SDS chapters to endorse these strategy and to begin planning how they will fit into them-if they chose to participate-by familiarizing themselves with Denver and building their skill set by hosting direct action trainings, skill shares, and thinking strategically about how their chapter can be involved in shutting down the DNC.
Finally, we are encouraging SDS chapters to act in solidarity with calls put forth by Unconventional Action Denver, Recreate ‘68, Tent State, and DNC Disruption by undertaking actions in the lead-up to the convention against the electoral process, the DNC/RNC, and individual candidates. These actions should be used to build the skills, relationships, and solidarity that will allow our movement to both successfully disrupt the DNC, build alternatives, and grow beyond the DNC/RNC protests.**
Now until August: Just because delegates aren’t here yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get here early! Come to Denver, meet the locals, scout interesting downtown sites, and help us get it all together to make this the best convention ever.
SUNDAY AUG 24:
March Against Occupations and Militarization! Begin the day with a massive anti-war march. We’ll be in the streets in solidarity with all who oppose imperialism and its tools of war & occupation.
Space Reclamation: Following the march, we’ll reclaim space somewhere in Denver. In a city under police occupation, we’ll take space back from the capitalist elite and create our own autonomous space, highlighting our ability to create horizontal systems of organization. While celebrating, we’ll get to know each other and our community. We’ll tell stories, party, and conspire. Not forgetting that profiteers of imperialism use Denver as a headquarters, affinity groups are encouraged to autonomously target these corporations.
MONDAY AUG 25:
March Against Prisons: Free All Political Prisoners! A morning Freedom March demanding an end to the prison industrial complex and freedom for the many political prisoners currently incarcerated for their acts in defense of the earth, animals, and fellow human beings.
No Business As Usual: In the evening, clusters, affinity groups and individuals take direct action against major fundraisers, delegate parties, restaurant outings and corporations using the DNC to sweeten their position with the party. Picture restaurants, hotel lobbies, theatres, and other mid-sized venues: Opportunities abound for subversive pranks, over-the-top theatrics, anti-capitalist extravaganzas, and whatever else you can think of.
TUESDAY AUG 26:
March Against Walls and Borders: No One Is Illegal! A historic convergence of Latino and Chicano communities, Immigrants and their Allies will be taking place in the morning. We will be in the streets making connections between the walls that separate nations, people, genders.
Blockade the Spectacle: We Vote NO! Delegates will be meeting in the afternoon to finalize their platform and we will be standing in their path. Coordinated technical blockades, street theater, and other diverse actions will shut down the flow of delegates to the Pepsi Center while supporting those trying to infiltrate their messages inside. As the DNC reaffirms its agenda of co-optation, subverting democracy and protecting corporate and imperialist powers, we will bring their party to a halt.
WEDNESDAY AUG 27:
Actions and Alternatives: No Warming! All day creative direct action to stop the direct causes of global warming and the corporations profiting from environmental destruction. Let’s demonstrate alternatives so that people can see another way of living opposed to our consumer lifestyles which are destroying the planet. Possibilities include: shutting down polluters, targeting corporations in Denver funding Democrats and destroying the planet, bike blocs, guerrilla gardening, simplicity enforcement, consumer re-education, and anything your creative little hearts can think of to show the world another way to live.
THURSDAY AUG 28:
Media Savvy Actions: End White Supremacy! Today we will engage in visually stunning, media attracting actions targeting the Democrats’ complicity in racism in Denver and nationally through gentrification, police brutality, criminal injustice, the prison industrial complex, etc. We will target institutions and corporations that force US imperialism and racism on the rest of the world, as well as those that inflict it upon us.
Tonight we will party, sleep, and support our comrades before heading to Minneapolis to disrupt the RNC…
To endorse Unconventional Action’s direct action strategy for the DNC, please send an email to unconventionaldenver [at] riseup.net
To endorse this call to action, please send an email to sds2dnc [at] hushmail.com
For more on organizing against the DNC, visit:
Finally, an updated list of endorsers will be available at:
*This Call to Action was written through an open, participatory process that incorporated many voices within SDS. Many thanks to ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) for much of the language, which is adapted from the SDS RNC Call to Action. Also, many thanks to Animas SDS and THS SDS for their indispensable input, as well as various individuals within the SDS-AAC.
**We seek to connect the resistance to the DNC and RNC through a model of abundance, rather than compete within a model of scarcity. Crash BOTH Conventions!
– Animas SDS
– ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS)