FREE SPEECH ZONE | Anti-War RNC March organizer responds to critics

Earlier this month, someone posted an article on this website called “March organizers failed to protect message.” As a member of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, I felt compelled to respond. The writer suggested that those who organized the permitted anti-war march on the opening day of the RNC should have tried to prevent “unruly protesters” from engaging in direct action or should have denounced those who did after the fact. The writer suggested that our message was stolen by “a few who acted mindlessly and that we should have stood side by side with police to denounce them. The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

Iraq War protests in Minnesota

Protesting the war, honoring the dead, listening to eyewitness accounts of the occupation, Twin Cities residents marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in events spanning a week. On March 15, nearly 2,000 people lined the sidewalk in front of the Uptown library, displaing colorful anti-war banners, signs, and flags. This demonstration was organized by the local Iraq Peace Action Coalition. More than 100 high school students from Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) soon arrived, chanting, “Money for schools not for war.”
“The Iraqi people have a right to self-determination,” Anh Pham of the Anti-War Committee (AWC) told the crowd. “Occupation is not liberation. Continue Reading

Bellecourt denounces KQRS for disguising racism as entertainment

Overlooking 35W and 94th St. in Bloomington, a billboard for KQRS radio reads ‘Our Lawyer is Always Busy.’ According to protesters who gathered outside station headquarters last week, KQRS has a battle on its hands. On December 6, more than 75 people braved single-digit temperatures to demand that the classic rock station fire popular morning DJs Tom Barnard and Terri Traen for derogatory statements they made about American Indians more than two months ago. “This is just the thunder before the storm,” said Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian movement. Continue Reading

Jena 6 case sparks student organizing in Twin Cities

When tens of thousands marched for racial justice in Jena, Louisiana on September 20, Reverend Al Sharpton called it “the beginning of a new civil rights movement.” On November 2, more than fifty Twin Cities residents gathered in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis to call for an end to racism in the nation’s legal system and other institutions. Organized by the ad hoc Twin Cities Jena 6 Solidarity Action Group, the demonstration drew a diverse group of participants and celebrated the talents of some passionate young activists. Tottiana Adams and Pierre Fulford, both students at St. Paul’s High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), performed a poem that asked the crowd to repeat “Let Freedom Ring” and “Let Justice Reign” in call and response style. Chantel Winn, another HSRA student sang a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Local hip-hop artist, Alex Leonard then gave a detailed description of the events that recently thrust six African-American teenagers and the small town of Jena into the national spotlight. Continue Reading

Spotlight on St. Anthony Park Community Council

This is the first in a series of articles that will examine the various District Councils in St. Paul. Ray Bryan first ran for a seat on the St. Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC) when he was a renter back in the mid seventies. He was concerned that some decisions being made regarding the St. Continue Reading

Minnesota Karen and supporters protest Burma repression

More Karen refugees from Burma live in Minnesota than in any other state. On Sunday, 300 Karen and supporters gathered at the Minnesota Capitol to protest continuing repression in Burma. The name of their homeland means “Land Without Evil,” yet for its citizens, Burma is anything but. A military dictatorship has ruled the country since 1962. Last month, demonstrators marched in the streets to protest rising fuel prices and call for democracy, led by scarlet-clad monks. Continue Reading

RNC protest organizers get an early start

One year out, protesters are planning for next September’s Republican National Convention. On September 1, 2008, the Republican National Convention (RNC) will be underway in St. Paul. Exactly one year before the political spectacle is set to begin, two activist groups signaled plans to protest the RNC and invited others to join them. The RNC Welcoming Committee, a local anarchist/anti-authoritarian group organized a weekend of networking and strategy sessions called the “pReNC.” Hundreds attended including many from out of town. Continue Reading

Minneapolis considers restricting demonstrations

Proposed ordinance would make arrests easier, require more permits. On March 18, 2007, 4,000 people marched down Hennepin Avenue and rallied in Loring Park to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq. Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon spoke at the event. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak also attended the demonstration and complimented the engaged citizens who took part, adding that “There should be even more people out here.”
However, all 4,000 protesters would have been arrested for demonstrating without a permit if the Ordinance for Public Rallies currently being considered by city officials were signed into law. A self-titled Free Speech Work Group that includes Mayor Rybak and City Councilman Cam Gordon has been meeting to discuss the new ordinance, which came at the request of the City Attorney’s office. Continue Reading