Post-Election Anger Takes the Streets

Revolutionary Worker #1258, November 14, 2004, posted at

As the media announced Bush had won the election, a wave of anger and frustration swept over much of the country.

A pro-Bush columnist in the San Francisco Chronicle described the conversations he overheard in a coffee shop—where calling Bush "the antichrist" was the mildest comment and where a 60-year-old man announced to everyone, "It’s time for revolution."

All kinds of people prepared to fight against another stolen election. And thousands took to the streets to deliver their NO to Bush and everything he represents.

Kerry had loudly promised to "fight for every vote." But he didn’t. Even before the final vote count was in from Iowa, Kerry conceded the election, saying he would not increase "divisiveness" by challenging the vote.

There was a wave of shock, including among many of Kerry’s most passionate supporters, because it was widely known in many places, particularly in swing states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, that there had been outrageous Republican attempts to suppress voting—especially among Black people and students.

All through this last week, there have been marches and other actions in dozens of cities, involving thousands of people.

The Not In Our Name (NION) coalition played an important role in calling for these actions, along with many other groups and organizations—including in some cases groups that had been involved in urging a vote for Kerry.

The following are largely drawn from reports we have received from RW correspondents and other sources.

SAN FRANCISCO —Here is a center of progressive thought, a mecca for gay life, a diverse coastal city filled with immigrants and cultures—and people felt the reelection of Bush very hard. Over 3,000 people marched through the streets on the day after the election. The demonstration, organized by NION, demanded "End the Occupation —Out of Iraq Now! No matter who is elected, we say no to war and repression!" The protest was endorsed by Middle East Children’s Alliance, American Muslim Voice, Jewish Voice for Peace, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Veterans for Peace, Korea Solidarity Committee, Alameda Peace Network and many others.

Both among those who voted for Kerry and those who didn’t vote at all—there was intense anger at the election of Bush and what it would mean for the people of the world. Many suspected vote fraud and another stolen election.

Together people were determined to make a powerful statement that they are NOT with the Bush agenda of war and repression and that they would not remain silent in the face of this.

"We need to say something, no matter what. We can’t just pussyfoot around. We need to go out and say something! People need to understand that not everyone is for the war. That we are against the war. People are getting killed daily. We need to speak out."

Young woman marching in San Francisco, November 3

The march filled many city blocks as it snaked for miles through the streets, ending up in the largely Latino Mission District. At the head of the march was a flatbed truck with the Loco Bloco musical drum and dance ensemble, pounding out a beat. Many marchers carried large earth flags, expressing the need to stand together with the people of the whole planet.

At various points along the way people staged "die-ins" by falling down in the streets—symbolizing what four more years of the Bush agenda would mean for the people of Iraq. Then people in the die-ins would jump to their feet and chant "Rise up with the people of the world!"

"I’m out here because I feel that the people are not being represented. I think there was fraud in the election and that it’s time to do more than vote," a young woman told the RW . "We need revolution. We need to wake up the majority of people. We need to educate them in ways that the media does not educate them. We need to educate people what their true interests are. People’s interests are not being represented by the Democrats or the Republicans and that’s a problem. People have tried to make change within the system, and now it’s time to make change outside the system."

When the march reached Mission Street, the police grabbed someone out of the crowd, and there was a clash as demonstrators opposed this attack.

As the march concluded at 24th and Mission, a U.S. flag and effigy of Bush were burned while people chanted "Fuck Bush, Fuck Kerry! Revolution Is Necessary!"

After the main rally, over 100 protesters continued through downtown. The window of a Wells Fargo Bank was smashed. Late in the evening, the police surrounded the marchers and arrested over 45 people.

COLUMBUS, OHIO —An RW correspondent sent us a report on the November 3 actions in the capital of this highly charged "swing state." The purpose of this action, he wrote, was to stand firm against the occupation of Iraq and against U.S. aggression in general, no matter who won the election. It was envisioned as a way to keep people mobilized and active after the elections—and it became a way for people to gather and wrangle together over what had just happened. Between 300 and 400 people slowly gathered together in a loud rally energized by many drummers. At 6 p.m. people started a march (without a permit) to the Ohio State House. They chanted "O-H-I-O ! Suppressed democracy has got to go." Everywhere—in the rally and along the march—there was intense discussion and debate about the election, about what it meant to people here and around the world.

At the State House, state troopers appeared and demanded that everyone disperse. In defiance over 100 people stormed up the stairs to the main entrance, locked arms and stayed there for over an hour (still discussing and debating the whole time!)

A statement was made—saying that this election result did not mean Bush had the "approval of America" and pointing out that there are millions of people who hate what he stands for.

Throughout Ohio there has been widespread suspicion of fraud. Thousands of Ohio voters were reportedly victims of Republican poll challengers and various intimidation incidents, and the vote counting itself was in the hands of Republican officials.

Across Ohio other demonstrations were reportedly held in Toledo, Cleveland, Oxford, Athens and Cincinnati.

LOS ANGELES— According to an RW correspondent, the November 3 protest in L.A. was built person-to-person via email. The L.A. chapter of NION reports that nearly 1,000 people took over Hollywood Boulevard in a spirited, angry march (without any permit). CD’s and DVD’s of Bob Avakian’s talks circulated through the crowd as the march headed for Hollywood and Highland, one of the busiest and glitziest intersections of the city. Marchers circled through that intersection in a gigantic picket line for two hours. Loud honking from supportive drivers and cheers from passing people mixed with the chants of the march.

On November 6, over 2,000 marched in the streets of Hollywood against U.S. wars and occupations, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Haiti and Palestine. Some of the youth on this march had gone to their first protest on October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. There were some high school teachers with their students.

At a rally by the Armed Forces Career Center, the LAPD beat and arrested three people and threatened hundreds more. Speakers at the rally included a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War who had witnessed the U.S. war crime known as the "highway of death."

Joe Veale, spokesperson of the L.A. branch of the RCP, said, "We need to unleash the fiercest and most ferocious resistance against this whole Bush agenda. We need to do this in a way so that it’s clear to everyone that we are standing with the people of the world. We need this resistance to flower and flourish in every aspect of society in a way that can defeat this agenda and bring us closer to a new world."

CHICAGO— On November 3, over 1,000 defied police threats and took to the streets of the downtown Loop area to protest the Bush program of war and repression.

NYC— Starting with the Union Square rally organized by Not In Our Name for election day itself, New York City has seen hundreds of people gather in several actions during the last week.

TUCSON, ARIZONA— More than 200 people marched in the downtown area on November 3 to express their outrage over the Bush agenda. One sign said "Resistance is Fertile: Think Outside of the Bombs." Another showed the hooded Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib being tortured by U.S. troops, and a big red "NO!" next to it.

As the march grew and took to the streets, police opened fire with pepper balls. Five people were arrested, including Keith McHenry from Food Not Bombs.

Businesses near the University of Arizona posted signs saying: "No! to the Bush Agenda of war and repression. The will of the people will not be expressed in these elections."

Members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade and other activists declared a "Fascist-Free Zone" within the university—and in the liberated climate there people discussed the future and listened to talks by Bob Avakian.

BOULDER, COLORADO —About 85 students took over their high school library on November 4 and stayed overnight. Horrified by the direction of the country, they demanded a meeting with state and national government leaders.

"We want them to reassure us that our fears are misguided and that the government is doing everything in its power to prevent our futures from being destroyed," said Brian Martens, wearing a T-shirt with the words "Senior Executive of the Subcommittee on Protesting Stuff."

Another student said, "We’re worried that in four years we’re going to be at war with five countries and we’re going to have no trees." Another added, "We’re protesting our futures, or lack thereof."

As they left the school, they left behind a banner on the wall: "We are the generation that will have to take on and suffer from the burden."

DENVER, COLORADO —Several hundred people marched through downtown opposing both Bush’s election and the occupation of Iraq.

PORTLAND, OREGON— Several hundred protesters took to the streets, shouting, "Not our president, not our war." One demonstrator held up the sign: "Let’s do what Kerry didn’t. Revolt."

SEATTLE— NION Seattle called a protest on November 6 to put out its message on the elections. 1,000 people turned out—alternative youth and college students were the largest component, joined by ’60s people, movement activists, progressive middle class people and a smaller number of immigrants and proletarians of different nationalities. When a speaker from Hate Free Zone asked how many will refuse to go along with Bush and stand with immigrants and people in other countries, the entire crowd raised both hands in the air.

People on the streets broadly welcomed the march. There was a tremendous response to the RCP speech based on the statement "The Will of the People Was Not Expressed in This Election." A single mom who supports NION but has been involved mainly in drawing people in to voting for Kerry said, "All our energy went to that for the past months. We tried it, it didn’t work, and now we need resistance and revolution."

BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON —300 protesters, starting out on the campus of Western Washington University, blocked traffic at one intersection.

Students also protested at the University of Vermont in Burlington; the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque; and Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.