With only a little over two weeks until November 2nd, World Can't Wait organizers have been going all out in Chicago. We are finding that with each advance, with each new person or group we connect with who want to take this movement up, with each high school where kids decide to walk out and college students that take responsibility for turning out their campus we still have to aim higher. As Debra Sweet said in her powerful statement "let's remember that we have set out to do the seemingly impossible because it is the only thing that is at all realistic. Only political action that repudiates Bush and his whole program, and that wins millions to this stand, has any chance of stopping a fascist, theocratic remaking of society. This is not rhetoric but a very sober assessment of the stakes of our times."
This weekend numbers of organizers got on the buses and went to the Millions More March in Washington DC. We had also learned that the Minutemen, a racist vigilante group and semi-official arm of the Bush regime who hunt down immigrants were coming to the Chicago Suburb of Arlington Heights for a national summit. Travis Morales one of the initiators of WCW had written a statement about this upcoming summit, exposing these creeps and the support they get from powerful political figures in the regime.
Learning a little late in the game about this event and the fact that immigrant rights organizations and other activists and students had planned to protest these racist vigilantes we scrambled get ourselves there. We wanted to genuinely support organizers and resistance to the Minutemen. We wanted to build for November 2nd as part of this and we wanted to join with those voices saying "The World Can't Wait...Drive Out The Minutemen!, The World Can't Wait...Drive Out The Bush Regime!"
As part of uniting with the protest of the Minutemen we also wanted to make the point to protesters that such groups don't come from no where, but are growing out of and strengthen a whole fascist program centered around the Bush regime. It is not accident that this group met at the Christian Liberty Academy which has its roots among the Christian right. And inspired by the Salute to the Millions More participants from The World Can't Wait, we brought a Salute to the Minutemen Resisters to distribute at the protest which drew the links between the Minutemen and the Bush regime and called on people to become organizers to drive out the regime.
When we got to the Christian Academy at around 8:30am we joined up with scores of other protestors at the entrance of the Minutemen conference. We had a huge beautiful banner declaring "Drive Out The Minutemen, Drive Out The Bush Regime! - The World Can't Wait"
It didn't take too long before protesters decided the resistance to this group needed to be more spirited. Some youth started dancing in front of the entranceway making it difficult for the Minutemen to pass in an out. There were drums and chants. Then officials of the conference started getting, well annoyed would be one way to put it. But we were also annoyed that we have to live in a world where such groups like this exist.
At a certain point people turned from dancing to being more determined to stop the Minutemen from entering this conference or letting this conference just go down. Protesters linked arms as the police tried to drag people away. And Minutemen organizers were trying to argue down the protestors and failing. The police tried to push, pull and pry the protesters form this entrance way but failed. A great cheer went up as the protesters stood firm and blocked the way.
Shortly after this two or three more bus loads of people came streaming in to the protest. Among them were many Latino immigrants from the community who had been mobilized by immigrant rights groups. There were also many students from all over who came out. The crowd swelled to over 300 people and people marched around the Academy seeking possibly to surround it.
It was not to long after this that a WCW organizer, Kara "Penny" Norlander was attacked by the police. She was walking across the grass lawn of the complex after just getting off the phone with another WCW organizer in Madison, Wisconsin. The police grabbed her, threw her to the ground and put cuffs on her saying that she was going to be charged with misdemeanor battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. But many others came to her defense demanding that she be let go. People, total strangers, locked arms with her and then with others to pry her loose. There was a lot of tug and pull and some other protestors got arrested. Among them, Cynthia Gomez, another WCW organizer who earlier had been sharply denouncing the summit using a bullhorn. Some immigrants took the risk of helping out as the police came down with a heavy hand.
Throughout the day, it was clear that members of the Minutemen were working closely with the police to intimidate the resisters. An October 13 article from the Associated Press on an anti-Minuteman event in Montpelier VT quoted the Minutemen: "A co-founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps says its volunteers have been harassed by what he calls 'domestic terrorists" who have threatened violence. Chris Simcox said the groups, which he did not identify, should be investigated." This is an open call to turn reality on its head and bring down more repression on those who would oppose the fascist direction in which the Bush regime is driving society. And it seems this call was taken up by the police and they, together with this group of brownshirts were determined to find an excuse to attack the protest.
In all, five were arrested and it is pretty clear that Kara "Penny" Norlander was singled out for a special attack. All five were charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. The police went into the crowd and singled out others claiming they video footage. There was jail solidarity and all five were released from jail with court dates set in December.
After the police moved in and arrested Penny, a whole army of more police showed up. Riot cops, with dogs and automatic weapons. There was some assault vehicle that looked like it just drove in from Iraq. Things got pretty intense and the police were clearly trying to intimidate people, including the many immigrants who came out to protest the Minutemen.
Two Minutemen sat in camouflage on top of the Academy looking down on the protestors. Someone told us they had guns. And these human-hunters were being protected by an army of cops from at least six different departments.
Through the course of the day thousands of numbers of the Call, stickers and posters went out. Students we met from outlying areas took stacks back to their schools to help organize for November 2nd. Some were not sure at first what we were bringing out, but the more we brought out the vision of the day and the type of resistance movement we were talking about - excitement generated among the people.
In a press release Penny said "The people have every right to oppose the human-hunting Minutemen. Organizers for the World Can't Wait...Drive Out The Bush Regime! came to stand in unity with others justly resisting and protesting these racist vigilantes. We came to make the point that the Minutemen are protected and promoted by powerful officials in the government. They are a semi-official arm of the Bush regime. November 2nd will mark the beginning of the end of the Bush Regime. Tens of thousands of people acting in cities and towns across the country will be taking history into their hands launching a massive movement of resistance which won't stop unitl this regime is driven from power."