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Bernie Supporters, Green Party, & Peace Activists ‘March For Our Lives’ Against DNC 2016

Posted in Archive, Journalism, and MintPress News

Originally published at MintPress News.

PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic National Convention opened on Monday amid a heat wave, but soaring temperatures didn’t stop activists from heating up the City of Brotherly Love.

MintPress News was there as protesters gathered outside of Philadelphia City Hall to chant, carry signs, or cool off in the shade of the building’s stone arches as temperatures reached 96 degrees, tying a previous record and keeping medics and volunteers busy treating heat stroke and handing out bottled water.

In the early afternoon, one group marched in honor of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader who was assassinated in March. Carrying a giant puppet made in her likeness, they chanted: “Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!”

Before she was assassinated, Cáceres blamed Hillary Clinton for backing a coup in Honduras in 2009 that destabilized the country and put its climate at increased risk.

Not long after the Cáceres march passed, hundreds began assembling for March for Our Lives, an event sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Hosted by Cheri Honkala, the campaign’s national coordinator and former Green Party vice presidential nominee, the event highlighted the problems of systemic inequality in the United States and the promise of alternative candidates like the Green Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Dr. Jill Stein.

“In 1948 the U.S. took the leadership in the passage of the Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 23, 25 and 26 of the human rights included the rights to food, housing, health care, education and living wage jobs,”Honkala said in a press release announcing Monday’s march and one held during the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland. “Instead of abiding these rights, we have had an ongoing war on the poor. This has to end.”

In this July 25, 2016 photograph, activists hold a "Go Green Bernie" banner at Philadelphia City Hall during the "March For Our Lives" rally. (Kit O'Connell)
In this July 25, 2016 photograph, activists hold a “Go Green Bernie” banner at Philadelphia City Hall during the “March For Our Lives” rally. (Kit O’Connell)

‘Go Green Bernie’

Raoul Mallalieu, a protester from New Jersey who marched with a “Go Green Bernie” banner, told MintPress that he hoped Bernie Sanders would consider running under the Green Party after the convention.

“I’m hoping the day after the convention that he jumps ship,” Mallalieu said. “Or at least, all his supporters do.”

Watch “DNC 2016: Activist Explains Why Bernie Sanders Should ‘Go Green’” from MintPress News:

“It’s time for a new party, not Republican-light DNC. It’s time for a new, progressive, democratic, fair party,” he added.

A pickup truck served as a makeshift stage for the March for Our Lives rally, and the crowd responded with enthusiastic chanting and applause to speakers including rapper Immortal Technique, retired Philadelphia Police Department Captain Ray Lewis, philosopher Dr. Cornel West, and journalist Rev. Chris Hedges.

Lewis urged Sanders supporters to switch to the Green Party:

Bernie, and this is hard, but Bernie sold millions of us out. Millions of people broke their piggy banks, their cookie jars, to send him $5, $10, $15, all across this country. Millions of people stayed up into the early hours, painting signs, creating banners, making puppets, to march in Bernie parades all across this country. He had the strongest grassroots organization ever.

When activists interrupted Lewis, chanting, “Not over yet!” Lewis responded: “Listen. Bernie is a politician. Jill Stein is a person. Let’s start working more for people.”

Immortal Technique: ‘Go Green right now and save your life’

Immortal Technique, a popular politically-oriented rapper, also voiced his support for the Green Party.

“Thank you, Philadelphia. Thank you, America. Thank you for being here and voicing your voice, and letting people know that if you’re down with progressive ideas, that if you believe in human rights, that if you’re against all kinds of racism, that the Democratic National Party is not your only option,” he said. “You can go Green right now and save your life.”

Immortal Technique at #DNC Protest

Immortal Technique speaks at the #MarchForOurLives at Philadelphia City Hall. #DNCinPHL #SeeYouInPhilly

Posted by Mint Press News on Monday, July 25, 2016

Addressing workers rights and the effectiveness of direct action, Immortal Technique said: “Where did these rights come from? They weren’t things that were given to us by the system, they were things that we fought for tooth and nail.”

He also professed his admiration and support for the black civil rights movement, including survivors of the MOVE bombing who were present at the event. In 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of the MOVE civil rights movement, killing 11 people, including five children.

“I remind people that every single time they do something to our community, they are testing it on people with the least political representation, [but] you are on that menu as well, ladies and gentleman, you’re just on the back page.”

When former Black Panther and peace activist George Martin took the mic, he recalled marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch “DNC 2016: Former Black Panther George Martin On Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream” from MintPress News:

“The problem today is that America is still dreaming,” Martin said, invoking King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.

“Back then, we marched for housing, for healthcare, for education,” he said. “Today, in the March for Our Lives, we’re still marching!”

Finally, Dr. Jill Stein addressed the crowd, praising the movement started by Sanders and his supporters.

Watch “DNC 2016: Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Speaks To March for Our Lives” Addressing the DNC’s Betrayal of Bernie Sanders & His Supporters:

Stein said:

Through Bernie’s campaign you lifted up what so many of us have been working on in the social movements for so long, in the fight for a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage, in the fight to make sure that every black life matters, in the fight to stop the pipelines all over this country, in the fight to cancel student debt, in the fight to create a foreign policy based on international law and human rights not regime change.

“We can have an America and a world that works for all of us,” she said. “We cannot just create a world for the United States of America. We are one world, one people, together.”

Stein went on to address the DNC’s betrayal of Bernie Sanders and his supporters, as revealed by the WikiLeaks database of 20,000 DNC emails published on Friday:

Your campaign lost in a rigged primary system rigged by the DNC and the corporate media in collusion with Hillary’s campaign. So do not vote back into that campaign that has betrayed this movement. Do not go into that party.

We are going forward together. What we learned in this last year is the very hard lesson that many of us have been observing for decades, which is: You cannot have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary political party!

This campaign, the Bernie movement, our movement — its future … is within the politics, within the power of the Green Party that will support this movement all the way until we prevail.

March for Our Lives takes Broad Street, demands removal of Mississippi state flags

Although the City of Philadelphia rejected the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s request for a march permit for the day’s events, police calmly escorted the march as it left City Hall and began the 3.5 mile journey to FDR Park, which is just outside the massive security fence built around the Wells Fargo Center, where the DNC is being held.

Dave Rushton, an activist from Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, who also contributes to MyMPN, the MintPress News blog, said that he supports Stein because she offers hope for a better future.

Watch “DNC 2016: March For Our Lives Activist Explains Support For Jill Stein” from MintPress News:

“I’m here because I feel like we should have a better future for everybody,” Rushton said. “My kids, your kids, everybody’s kids.”

“I personally feel like if we get the money out of politics, we can elect fair members to the government.”

Traveling down Broad Street, where the flags of all 50 states were hanging, the march halted at a pair of Mississippi state flags to protest the state’s continued use of the Confederate flag, a symbol many feel represents racial hatred.

Activists sat in the street until the city’s public works department dispatched workers to remove the flags.

With the flags down, the march continued onto AT&T Station, the final subway station leading to the Wells Fargo Center, where a handful of activists were taken into custody and issued citations for shaking and climbing temporary police barricades.

Others marched to FDR Park, where Stein and her supporters, including CodePink anti-war activist Medea Benjamin, addressed a crowd of almost 1,000 people that spilled out from the shade of a tent onto the surrounding hillside.

As stormclouds gathered and the temperature plummeted by 20 degrees, Stein urged the excited crowd: “Stop voting for the lesser evil and stand up for the greater good, like if your lives depend on it.”

Police ended the gathering early, citing safety concerns as a thunderstorm broke out. Though a planned performance by Immortal Technique was cancelled, the soaking-wet protesters remained in high spirits, chanting their demands for justice (and umbrellas) as they poured out into Philadelphia’s streets again.

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