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RNC Update 9 An Incredible Day

I believe that Liberty herself bent down with her torch to ignite a burnng flame of truth at the threshold of the convention of lies.
>Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 06:04:53 -0700

>RNC Update 9 An Incredible Day
>By Starhawk
>Three quarters of a million people marched today in New York City. That¹s
>NPR¹s estimate. The New York Times estimated 500,000, but called it ³The
>biggest protest ever at a political convention, the most emphatic ever, the
>biggest protest NYC has seen in decades, and rivaling the 1982 rally in
>Central Park.²
>It was an amazing day, long and hot and sweaty and with moments of tension,
>but overall just wonderful. I started early meeting with other trainers at
>Union Square, doing a mini-training for trainers to get teams prepared to do
>trainings for contingents while waiting for the march to set off. My team
>wasn¹t terribly successful at that as every time we found a contingent that
>was interested, they began marching. There were so many contingents forming
>up on side streets over such a large area that it was impossible to sense
>how big it was. We finally went back to the Pagan Cluster, formed up with
>our giant banners that were gifted to us by the New York artists, and
>marched behind the big green dragon our old friends from Washington DC
>brought up, together with a contingent marching under black umbrellas and
>crowded into a V-shaped banner, and the Rhythm Workers Union who have a big
>cart with drums on it that can be wheeled through the streets so people can
>play big Jimbes and not have to carry them for miles.
>We waited a long time to get going, but finally squeezed into the main mass
>of marchers on 7th Avenue. In a march this big, you only ever see a small
>fragment of what is happening. If you were in San Francisco watching on
>CNN, you had a clearer overview than we did. We had no idea how many people
>were there, except that it was a lot, but when we had made our way up to
>about 23rd St. I got a text message on our new high tech text messaging
>list serve saying that the head of the march had already reached Union
>Square and most people still hadn¹t left the assembly point. And I felt
>such a rush of joy. We¹d done it! We¹d overcome all the propaganda and the
>campaign of intimidation and the fear mongering, and people really had come
>out in the streets, unafraid, and it was beautiful! Masses and masses of
>people, some in T shirts or with banners of organizations, some with
>dreadlocks and wild tattoos, but most just ordinary looking New Yorkers of
>every color and age and kind, in such numbers that the march just crawled
>along for hours.
>I was working hard to keep our contingent together, and in its position at
>the back of the dragon¹s tail‹not always easy when the streets were so, so
>crowded. I must have been pretty seriously focused because my own brother
>turned up, offered his services as a mandolin player, and marched alongside
>me for about fifteen minutes before I recognized him. Of course, in my mind
>he¹s my baby brother, slim, curly haired, dark, and about thirteen years
>old‹not some big, gray-haired, middle-aged old coot. How did he get that
>I saw lots of old friends and old political comrades‹from all different eras
>and strands of my life, The sun was blazing hot and the pace was very, very
>slow‹the march stopping often and then resuming its slow crawl. Meanwhile
>text messages were coming in about the police harassing and arresting
>bicyclists. Apparently there is something especially menacing about these
>two-wheeled, human-powered vehicles and those who ride them, at any rate,
>the NYPD seems to be running a campaign to clear the streets of these moving
>threats to public safety. Aside from that, police presence was mostly light
>and unobtrusive, except for barricades that appeared near Madison Square
>Garden separating the street from the sidewalk, making it hard to duck out
>for a bottle of water and get back in. By the time we approached MSG, so
>many people were on the sidewalk they formed dual companion marches of their
>own, moving at a swifter pace than the march in the street like flanking
>streams with swifter currents.
>Our friends with the dragon had offered to help us if we wanted to do a
>spiral dance in front of the Garden, so as we got near I began drawing the
>cluster together, speaking to our friends in the Rhythm Workers¹ Union to
>coordinate some drumming of a rhythm we could chant to, looking for an open
>space. We found it, around 33rd St. We dropped back behind the dragon,
>because the sound system inside it was too loud for our ears. The police
>are rumored to have a sound weapon that will disperse crowds with painful
>levels of noise, but this was friendly fire that drove us back. Where the
>crowd thinned just slightly, we grabbed the opportunity, formed our circle
>and began to spiral in, chanting,
>No army can hold back a thought,
>No fence can chain the sea,
>The earth cannot be sold or bought,
>All life shall be free.
>The spiral stopped the already slow march, and I felt guilty about that, but
>the march had been stopping anyway for hours and we felt another five
>minutes or so wouldn¹t kill anyone. Then some energy roared through me like
>a freight train, and I stopped feeling anything else. Some of it was
>horrible, nauseating energy that needed to be released and cleansed. Some of
>it was powerful, earth energy, a kind of raw life force that pulsed and
>thundered and rose up into a great, focused cone of power. Someone told me
>to look behind, and in the relatively empty space between us and the line of
>cops at 34th St., the dragon was burning.
>The flames rose up and in that moment, it seemed a perfect icon of our
>magic, a powerful spell, although I can¹t rationally explain why. Later
>Delight said the dragon is luck and the Republicans¹ luck was burning. Of
>course, it had tactical repercussions. The cops grabbed some people and
>arrested them. A few people threw bottles back at the cops from the middle
>of the crowd. The police drew a line at 33rd Street and pushed us off down
>the street, blocking the main march again. We moved off, down to the Herald
>Square Avenue, regrouped and caught our breath.
>We were tired, and felt that we had done our magical work, so we decided to
>make our separate ways up to Central Park, where masses of people were
>gathering on the Great Lawn despite the city¹s refusal to permit a rally
>there. More and more people came until the whole area was thronged with
>thousands and thousands of people, relaxing on the grass, playing music,
>pounding drums, doing street theater for each other. We did some impromptu
>nonviolent direct action trainings. Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop
>Shopping performed marriages and his choir intoned the sacred First
>Amendment. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a marching brass band, wound
>through the crowd. It was like all the best parts of a rally, without being
>tortured by scratchy voices on loudspeakers that you can¹t really hear and
>don¹t want to listen to but feel somehow that you should.
>Meanwhile, on Broadway the delegates were greeted by the Mouse Bloc, (Disney
>paid for them to attend Broadway shows), who were also aggressively stopped
>by the police. Many were trapped in a net and arrested. Other protestors
>dogged the steps of delegates who were dining at the Boat House in Central
>Park or entering hotels. Our cluster stayed in Central Park, and had a very
>sweet full moon ritual near the obelisk, washing ourselves clean of all the
>ways we have taken in what Raven and Seelin and Burch, who planned the
>ritual, call Œthe hex¹ and some of us call the fortress of the Empire‹that
>whole intertwined system of belief and power that maintains oppression.
>And this morning we¹re having the unusual experience of savoring the news,
>great pictures of huge crowds of protestors, even the New York Post and the
>Daily News writing stories with great quotes.
>Whatever else happens during this week, we¹ve already changed history.
>We¹re left with just one mystery. No one admits to burning the dragon. The
>friends who brought it say they had no knowledge that anyone intended to
>burn it. Was it provocateurs? An accident? Or a spontaneous combustion,
>touched off by a spark of that cone of power we were raising fifty yards
>away? We may never know, but I¹ll tell you what I like to believe‹that
>Liberty herself bent down with her torch to ignite a burning flame of truth
>at the threshold of the convention of lies.
>www.starhawk.org < http://www.starhawk.org/>
>Donations for the action can be sent to:
>1405 Hillmount St.
>Austin, Texas
>Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of Webs of Power: Notes from
>the Global Uprising and eight other books on feminism, politics and
>earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine
>permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainer¹s
>collective, www.rantcollective.org < http://www.rantcollective.org/> that
>offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and
>peace issues.
>To get her periodic posts of her writings, email
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>Starhawk is a lifelong activist in peace and global justice movements, a leader in the feminist and earth-based spirituality movements, author or coauthor of nine books, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, and her latest, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising.
>Starhawk's website is www.starhawk.org, and more of her writings and information on her activities can be found there.