Coalition prepares to march—peacefully


It was late at night on July 24 when a tall, black-haired young woman jumped onto the stage at the Triple Rock Social Club and, pulling the microphone close, asked the crowd “Where are you all going to be on September 1st?

A lingering crowd of young people stood under her, not sure what was happening. Kim DeFranco sat at small round table to the side of the stage, smiling. She knew what was going on.

“In St. Paul!” she called back.

Marching orders: Group rallies at City Hall as Minneapolis council weighs new limits on protesters’ rights by Molly Priesmeyer, Minnesota Independent
Protesters beware: As the Republican convention approaches, Minneapolis is revamping its policies regarding police conduct during political demonstrations, and opponents of the new guidelines say they limit civil and First Amendment rights.

Defranco is an organizer for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, one of many groups organizing protest demonstrations during the four days of the Republican National Convention this September. The event at the Triple Rock that night was a fundraiser for the Coalition’s protest on September 1, the first day of the convention.

The Coalition’s proposed route has been rejected by the city of St. Paul—much to the frustration of Coalition organizers. The city permit granted for the march will allow minimal proximity to the Xcel Center, and requires that marchers leave the area by 2 p.m., before the convention begins.

The Coalition’s desired route (in green) and the route assigned to them by the city of St. Paul (in blue)

Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War
The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War
Ph. #: 612.379.3584
Anti-War Committee
AFSCME Local 3800
SDS – Univ. of Minnesota
Twin Cities Peace Campaign – Focus on Iraq (MN)
Welfare Rights Committee (MN)
Women Against Military Madness (MN) Action LA Coalition
Al Awda Right to Return Coalition – Chicago Chapter
Al Awda Right to Return Coalition – Omaha Chapter
Alliance for Global Justice
AlliantAction (MN)
American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council
ANSWER Coalition
Arlington (MA) United for Justice with Peace and the Lexington (MA) Peace and Justice Committee
Bolivarian Circle – Cincinnati
Call ‘Em Out Coalition (Detroit)
Campus Antiwar Network
Centro CSO (Los Angeles)
Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism
Chicago Progressive Alliance
Coalition for Palestinian Rights (MN)
Colombia Action Network
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Communist Party-USA (MN)
Communities United Against Police Brutality (MN)
Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)
FIST (Raleigh, NC)
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Green Party, 5th Congressional District
Gus Hall Action Club (MN)
International Action Center
International Solidarity Movement, Chicago Chapter
Iraq Peace Action Coalition (MN)
Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Latinos Against War (Los Angeles)
Low Income People Organized for Power (LIPOP) – Duluth, MN
Madison Infoshop
Madison Raging Grannies
March 25 Coalition – Los Angeles
May 1 Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights
Mexico-US Solidarity Network
Military Families Speak Out – Minnesota
MN Cuba Cmte
MN Immigrant Rights Action Coalition
MN Women’s Earth Brigade
National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Network On Cuba
Neighbors for Peace (Evanston, IL)
Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines (NISPOP)
Neverwood Collective
New Jersey Solidarity – Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
Nicaragua Solidarity Committee – Chicago
Northland Anti-War Coalition
Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago
Pan-African Roots
Peace Action Wisconsin
Peace and War in the Heartland
Peoples Republic of the North Star (ML)
Radio Free Maine
Rainbow Affinity Tribe
Revolting Queers
RNC Welcoming Committee
School of the Americas Watch
Socialist Alternative
Southsiders Together Organized for Power (Chicago)
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – National
SDS – Macalester College
SDS – Ohio State
SDS – Tuscarora High School
SDS – Univ. of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
SDS – UNC-Asheville
SDS – UNC-Chapel Hill
SDS – UNC-Charlotte
SDS – Univ. of North Dakota
Students for Peace – University of Minnesota Duluth
Students for Social Justice – Oakton Community College, Des Plains, IL
Teamster Local 743
Troops Out Now Coalition
Twin Cities TransMarch Collective (MN)
Unconventional Action Chicago
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
Veterans for Peace Chapter 80
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 115 (MN)
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 (MN)
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
War Resisters League
Welfare Warriors
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Youth Against War and Racism
8th Day Center for Justice
1000 Grandmothers…
Individuals: Cindy Sheehan, John Dear, S.J.

“They act like dissent is an afterthought, and they tried to squish us into the littlest amount of space and the farthest amount of space from the delegates,” Aby said. “They gave us a route that could accommodate maybe 10,000 people.”

The Coalition sued the city for changes in the route and timing to allow a more effective demonstration. In mid-July. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Erickson ruled in favor of city officials, deciding the revised route was appropriate.

According to court documents, Erickson agreed with city officials that the danger posed by the demonstrators outweighed their right to march where and when they please.

“The order, for the most part, addressed all of the issues,” St. Paul City Attorney John Choi said. “From the city’s perspective we’ve granted unprecedented access.”

The Coalition has reserved the south stairs of the State Capitol building from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and plan on having keynote speakers in the morning, before marching to the Xcel Center, Coalition spokesperson Meredith Aby said. If the 50,000 people expected by organizers show up, the event stands to be the biggest protest demonstration in Minnesota history.

Members of the Coalition adamantly maintain that both the rally and the march will be peaceful and well organized, and separate from any violent protests.

Their goal is that “anyone can participate without injury or conflict with the police or anyone else,” Coalition outreach worker Joe Callahan said. “At these conventions, being able to exercise our constitutional rights is a very big thing.”

The Coalition’s common principles appear in their four slogans:

“U.S. out of Iraq now,”

“Money for human needs, not for war,”

“Say no to the Republican Agenda,” and

“Demand peace, justice and equality.”

Jess Sundin, an organizer for the Coalition, began planning a counter-event in the fall of 2006, only days after the Republican Party announced St. Paul as the location of its 2008 convention.

Sundin and the burgeoning Coalition spent the next year-and–a-half applying and re-applying for permits, negotiating with city officials, and finally suing the city twice over delays and restrictions on permits to march.

Last winter, the coalition hosted a meeting on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus with other protest groups, during which they negotiated a set of working rules for the four days of demonstration. The four “St. Paul Principles,” agreed upon by all the groups, even those with more radical aims, are:

1. Respect the diversity of tactics of other protest groups

2. Be aware of the separate activities of other groups

3. Don’t criticize publicly the tactics of other groups

4. Don’t cooperate with police in pointing fingers at other groups

After the meeting, Coalition membership “exploded,” Sundin said.

Today the Coalition is endorsed by local groups including Women Against Military Madness, The Anti-War Committee, AFSCME Local 3800, and University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society, as well as national groups such as CODEPINK, Action LA Coalition, Columbia Action Network, and various national student groups.

Patrick B. Anderson is a freelance reporter and poverty-stricken college student. In addition to food, he seeks input at