Around noonish yesterday I took advantage of the gorgeous day to buzz over to the Xcel Energy Center to take in the “Anti-War Committee”‘s press conference to announce their plans for the fourth and final day of the Republican National Convention.
We stood on the plaza at Seventh and Kellogg. Construction workers with their yellow contractor badges taking a break from the big buildout inside the X wandered around, lunchpails and Subway wrappers in hand, taking (mostly) no interest at all in the proceedings.
I counted a total of seven reporters or camerapeople of various types (plus me, whatever it is that I am), seven people from the “Anti-War Committee”, three of whom spent the conference standing in the back of the camera shot holding a banner (and not all that successfully; one corner got away from one of the guys a couple of times), and a rather portly guy in cargo shorts with a consumer-grade video cam who hovered around the edge of the “conference” shooting footage of…the reporters, mostly.
Three women from the AWC spoke – briefly. Jesse Albertson-Grove – a dead-ringer for a younger Chelsea Clinton – noted that the Anti-War Committee “stood in solidarity” against US involvement in wars in Iraq, Palestine and Colombia. I didn’t get to ask her if they advocated giving Ingrid Betancourt back to FARC.
Next, Katrina Plotz noted that Iraq wasn’t the only war – indeed, we have a “war at home”; as evidence of this war at home, she noted that candidate and presumptive nominee John McCain wants to…
…extend the Bush tax cuts.
(Around this point a heckler – a lanky guy with a contractor badge, carrying his lunch box as he walked back to the X on Kellogg - yelled “Why don’t you go back to your own neighborhood?” I don’t think he got any air time).
Misty Rowan – an auburn-haired woman in an AWC t-shirt who looked like Kelly O’Donnell’s younger, vegan, Prius-driving sister – added that the group’s plans include a march. The Saint Paul Police had given them a permit to march from the Capitol to the X later in the afternoon on the Fourth; according to Rowan, the AWC was upset that the permit didn’t allow them to march into the X and throw garbage at delegates, or something (I’ll admit my attention was wandering around this point).
Among ‘em, they mentioned that the 9/4 march, timed to coincide with John McCain’s acceptance speech, is going to be “more militant” than the opening-day parade.
How much “more militant?” And what does that mean?
Ms. Plotz took the microphone again.
I asked her – given the number of left-leaning groups who are talking about blockading streets, damaging property and attacking delegates, did the “Anti-War Committee” specifically condemn or abjure violence?
MPR was there. Bob Collins noted the conference on NewsCut yesterday.
What about what most people think when they hear a term like militant, violence, for example?
“The violence that I’m worried about is the violence that’s being carried out in Iraq right now,” she answered, which isn’t really an answer.
“You’re not answering my question,” a blogger said, uttering the five words that mark a great political journalist.
“I know,” she said, adding that she doesn’t consider the blockades being planned — allegedly — by other groups “violence.”
“That’s not what we’re planning,” she said.
Collins notes the game of rhetorical peek-a-boo as some of the other reporters followed up with Plotz:
“We worked very hard to make the Day 1 march on the Xcel something that you can bring your family to and you can all come out for the war. And we believe Day 4 is for the truly committed and for the people who really want to see change and expect that to be a little harder to come to than just showing up with the kids and the balloons.” (Listen)
That sounds almost militant. Perhaps, too militant, because the other speaker jumped in to spin that answer…
“If people are wondering about Day 4, is it going to be safe, is it going to be OK to bring their families, we would say ‘yes.’ I think the more the better.”
A few minutes later, however, she said militant might mean that “people face a little more risk by coming down.” (Listen)
Also – whenever “violence” was mentioned, all the speakers took pains to note that the violence they feared the most was from the police.
After saying there wouldn’t be any “sit-ins” or “die-ins,” that led us back to the question of how the second protest is more militant than the first? “I would say if people have questions, they should get in contact with us,” she said.
She said people should go to an organizing committee meeting to find out what the protest is going to look like.
As the conference broke up, a woman with the AWC asked me for my card. She said she wanted to read what I wrote about the event.
After six and a half years of blogging, I still don’t have cards. I wrote down my URLs (for Shot in the Dark and True North).
I presume she’s interested in checking out the fairness of my coverage.
In the spirit of the event, let me say that the only unfairness I am worried about is in Zimbabwe.