Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Many struggles, one movement

Reflections on Day 1 of the “It Takes Roots to Change the System” People’s Caravan, by Daryl McElveen

 

7/20/2016
Waiting for the plane to Cleveland…

The first day of another part of my life! Not sure what to expect on all levels : politically, emotionally, socially. The Republican National Convention has been a debacle, thus far, of fear mongering and Trump-lapdogs. Not surprising. What WAS surprising was that Trump’s team allowed his wife, Melania to go and read a speech that had almost two full paragraphs lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech in ‘08 when President Obama accepted his party’s nomination. They couldn’t even copy a Republican’s speech.  It would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high and the lack of respect for the gravity of what he is doing wasn’t there.

The next day, during the roll call of the states, you could sense a circling of the wagons in the party. They had to after a disastrous first night, where overnight the media only talked about plagiarism. Even states that didn’t have the majority of their delegate going to Trump were shouting “..And the next President of the United States, Donald…” like they were trying to convince themselves it would be alright if that happened.

How did we get here. Is it an aggregate of white econo/socio/politico/religious angst? Born out small time in small towns but reverberating to larger national white identification? I expect to see hurting people. Informed? For the most part, I know the delegates on the caravan will be 😉

Arrived in downtown Cleveland. Walking out of the train station. I felt like I was walking out of Union Station in Washington D.C. The layout of the streets, the construction of the buildings. The moment and the energy outside took me to the right even though all I had to do was cross the street to get to the People’s Square. After walking past people selling anti Hillary and Pro-Trump stuff, I make a right at the guy selling Trump Whoopi cushions to see a  street that was basically a remote TV studio for MSNBC. Media people were milling about preparing to cover what would turn out to be a powerful day of action.

Some of the media were interviewing the confident Trump supporters, which were few and far between. Were there Trump supporters, yes. But no one wearing trump shirts , hats or buttons. Amid all this I had a huge  smile on my face thinking about my safe arrival, the beautiful day, being a part of history. The people dressed for the convention were not smiling or in a festive mood like they were ready to coronate their leader. It wasn’t a festive atmosphere.

Not so at the Public Square. Inasmuch as protesting can bring joy, this did, I think because of the number of people and the diverse makeup of the crowd. As I arrived, the group MiJente had already started the action of building a human wall that we were going to join. People threw canvas with bricks painted on it over there heads and locked arms and chanted “Wall Off Trump!” amongst other great lines. Still holding my luggage, I was dazzled by the spectacle.

As time went on, more and more media surrounded our action as we marched to the edge of the perimeter in front of the arena where the convention is being held . For almost an hour we chanted and sang in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters for the end to the hate being spewed by a potential President of the United States. The media salivated and interviewed practically all the people holding the wall up. It seemed like every news organization in America was there lol . It was AWESOME! They followed us back to the People’s Square where the hodgepodge of protesters were being poked and prodded by the media not following the wall. As it should be, the action and the media focused on the people!

Daryl McElveen, Vermont Worker’s Center

Since last summer I have been organizing music events in collaboration with the Vermont Worker’s Center, fundraising and helping to build membership. I recently was asked to be on the statewide steering committee representing Windham County and am spearheading the Brattleboro Organizing committee’s goal to organize the artist in our area.

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