For the city of St. Paul, the biggest event of September 2008 was undoubtedly the Republican National Convention which was held September 1-4 (and just five miles from my home).
In the days leading up to and throughout the duration of the RNC, I participated in a number of events advocating alternatives to numerous aspects of the Republican agenda, including the use of torture, efforts to suspend the right of habeas corpus, and the occupation of Iraq.
The largest of these events was the September 1 peace march that drew tens of thousands of people to the streets of St. Paul. It was also an event that ushered in an unprecedented militarization of various Minnesota law enforcement agencies at a cost of $50 million.
In the weeks after the RNC, many were highly critical of the city and state policy makers who authorized this militarization, one that, as Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman notes, “led to mass arrests, the use of pepper gas, concussion grenades, rubber bullets against peaceful protesters and the tactics of intimidation that went along for the ride.”
In his September 25 column, Coleman also gave voice to the question that many were pondering: “How did a city that loves its police force - a city where many residents are on a first-name basis with their cops - wake up on September 1 in a militarized zone where the cops were deployed in military formations, using military tactics, in ways that did not discriminate between the small band of creeps that came to cause trouble and the throngs of peaceful citizens exercising their rights?”
“There is no answer yet to that question,” concluded Coleman.
In his September 13 Star Tribune commentary, Paul Scott observed: “Until RNC week, we had never needed to learn the breaking point for our freedoms. Now, thanks to some yabbos with bandanas around their faces, we know the moment at which St. Paul authorities will rescind the ability to walk on public streets free of intimidation and disillusionment with one’s country: Three broken windows at Macy’s.”
For more on the RNC, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Walking for Peace, Witnessing Against War
• Saying “No” to Torture and the Republican Agenda
• Out and About - August 2008
• Marching on the RNC
• Amy Goodman Arrested at the RNC
• Amy Goodman: Breaking with Convention
Above (from left): Coleen Rowley, Ray McGovern, and Ann Wright - three of the speakers at Peace Island: Hope in a Time of Crisis, a “solutions-based” conference held at Concordia University during the Republican National Convention.
Above: With Antonia Juhasz (third from left), author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, and my friends Sue Ann and Kathleen - Peace Island Conference, Tuesday, September 2, 2008.
For Antonia Juhasz’s views on why progressives should vote for Barack Obama, see the previous Wild Reed post, Progressives and Obama (Part 2).
Left: The weekly vigil outside the corporate headquarters of Alliant TechSystems in Eden Prairie - Wednesday, September 3, 2008.
Alliant TechSystems is the largest Minnesota-based weapons manufacturer and the primary supplier of landmines, cluster bombs, nuclear missile rocket motors, and depleted uranium munitions to the U.S. Department of Defense. In addition, the corporation has sales representatives in over 60 countries.
For more information about this weekly vigil, click here.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Walking Against Weapons
• Award-winning “Hellraisers” at it Again
• Alliant Action
• It Sure Was Cold!
Above: Down by the Mississippi - Saturday, September 6, 2008.
For more images of this beautiful spot by the river, click here and here.
Above: My friend Benjamin (third from left) singing with Ovation, an ensemble of One Voice Mixed Chorus - Sundin Hall, Hamline University, September 21, 2008.
Above: Gretchen Murr, president of PFLAG St. Paul/Minneapolis , and Jody Huckaby, PFLAG national executive director, at the September 27 PFLAG Northern Plains Regional Conference, Hotel Sofitel, Minneapolis.
I helped staff an informational booth for the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) at the PFLAG conference.
Above: Speakers at the first annual PFLAG Northern Plains Regional Conference included Robert and Carol Curoe (back row at left), co-authors of Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story, and Jacqueline White (back row, fourth from left), author of the forthcoming My Transgender Husband: A Love Story.
For more of Carol and Bob Curoe, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Sharing Their Story
• Catholic Father & Lesbian Daughter Banned from Speaking on Church Property
• Choosing to Stay
Above: Poet and author David Weiss (left) and Lowell O. Erdahl, Bishop Emeritus of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, at the first annual PFLAG Northern Plains Regional Conference - September 27, 2008.
To read excerpts from David Weiss’s book, To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical Reflections on Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Wideness of God’s Welcome, see the previous Wild Reed posts Making Love, Giving Life and Coming Out: An Act of Holiness.
Above: One Voice Mixed Chorus performing at the first annual PFLAG Northern Plains Regional Conference, September 27, 2008.
Above and below: The annual Silent Auction fundraiser for Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) - St. Joan of Arc Church, September 28, 2008.
Above: With my dear friends Ken and Carol Masters.
Above: Mike, Pepperwolf, and Darlene at WAMM’s September 28 Silent Auction.
Right: With WAMM co-founder Marianne Hamilton.
As I note on my Faces of Resistance website, “Marianne’s activism began after World War II when she became president of the Minnesota chapter of the World Federalists. Her activism continued through the Vietnam War era, when she was an outspoken critic of the conflict. In the 1970s she was invited to the Paris Peace Talks as part of an antiwar delegation. In 1982, Marianne joined with Polly Mann and others to form WAMM. Marianne is particularly well known for her international activism, and received the 1999 International Citizen Award, granted jointly by Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Marianne is a real inspiration to me. She’s positive and proactive and “makes the connections,” as we like to say in the progressive community. For instance, in 2002 Marianne observed that: “More and more people are now saying that social, military, and globalization issues are all one . . . My upbringing in Catholic schools taught me about the interconnectedness of humanity – that we can’t separate one from another. That’s my personal motivation. And it seems to motivate a lot of people.”
Above: Kay and Ward.
Above: Carol, Marlys, Tom, and Brigid at WAMM’s Silent Auction.
Above and below: Signs of summer’s end.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Back in the USA
• Out and About - April 2007
• Out and About - May 2007
• Out and About - June 2007
• Out and About - July 2007
• Out and About - August 2007
• Out and About - September 2007
• Out and About - October 2007
• Out and About - November 2007
• Out and About - December 2007
• Out and About - January 2008
• Out and About - February 2008
• Out and About - March 2008
• Out and About: April 2008
• Out and About - May 2008
• Out and About - June 2008
• Out and About - July 2008
• Out and About - August 2008