It was the week before my 40th birthday and I had been planing on going with a crew from East WInd to Minnesota to Harvest fest, then starting looking at the dates and realized that the RNC was going on the same time and I (as those of you who know me) hatched a lion sized plan and it fell into place perfectly, in fact seeds of peace contacted East Wind asking for some donations (something we can do) so we set off at 8pm Monday and arrived about 8 am Tuesday driving pretty much rite up on the Seeds of peace crew we dropped off about 150# of peanut butter to help feed the protesters as well as the many hungry in St. Paul. we also kicked in with some help, it felt so good to be helping those people doing such noble work (as an aside I grew up with parents that owned a restaurant and no one no matter what kinda of money people had or didn't have they got fed, Thank you mom and dad for teaching me the fine line between consumers and feeding people because that's what you do.) After shaking off the road and putting in a little more work we headed to St. Paul proper it was only a couple miles so we set off walking we made it about 5 blocks and where crossing a bridge before the police decided the Ice tea I was carrying needed to be checked we already new we had entered the police state machine guns on boats in the river and police like free day at a doughnut shop. They smelled my tea, other police showed it was actually a lite encounter but yes it had not been 10 minutes and we where already dealing with police. After tossing the Tea we walked on to the Capitol building to see ripple affect a peaceful protest done in a festival style. the police where in riot gear every where in the city, you knew you where being watched by either the helicopter in the sky or the cameras or the police with cameras etc etc.. For those of you who have seen star wars think storm troopers thousands of them that was the scene as we walked up to the capitol. we where surrounded obviously but being left alone for the most part occasionally a flank of storm troopers would rise up and stir some shit and we would surround them with cameras and civil liberty lawyers and that kept them in check during the day time for the most part some kids where still getting pepper sprayed but not to bad yet unless of course your an innocent getting maced by an illegal police force. After Dead Prez played (it was f-ing awesome) one of the amazing kids I brought with said lets go! Poor peoples march is happening, I actually balked for a minute I wanted to stay on the lawn and watch Franti sing "I love you" but for some reason I followed and it may have been the best move I made in a lifetime. The rally started with speakers explaining the history of the poor peoples march and how M L K started the march ( he knew it was about oppression of the poor a long time ago) and I started realizing how important this was I found some food that the Seeds of peace kids where serving (awesome food by the way) as well as a couple pieces of pizza in a trash that me and a friend laughed about tried and realized it was fresh yummy free pizza! several times the riot police would escalate things by shining lights into the crowd or harassing a demonstrators but the crowd held strong we would surround and chant and let the lawyers through pour vinegar into the eyes of those pepper sprayed and would continue our demonstration. After the speakers where finished we started to march I put on a yellow bandanna over my face and had a bottle of water to pour on it if I got to close I know this would only slow down the effect but hopefully keep me from being on the front page of the st paul paper crying and puking. Isn't it good to be an American, "where your free to assemble and protest" that's what everyone is saying I didn't feel that free when I had to put on my riot gear just to walk for poor people. And we marched we actually marched with out to much hassle that I noticed most of the way a few little things but mostly we actually almost became a fun parade singing 80s butt rock songs to the riot police as well as our common chant theme "feed the poor eat the rich" (ok a little inflammatory but we said it with a smile) We where under this bridge for a minute and the echo was awesome so we hung there for a minute and chanted and danced some more, One guy had to go pee so he headed to the woods near by and a cop started to head in after him we all hollard at him to get out and he did then the cop came out so encumbered by his gear that he nearly fell out of the woods and we liked that a lot we then changed our chant to what do we want... The freedom to pee... When do we want it.... NOW! you see what I'm saying we where lite hearted and having fun this was a peaceful protest. after the bridge a gentleman flew a huge kite, rainbow in color and it followed us, oddly enough it usually was in line with the helicopter that followed us the whole march (police state my friends). Still something about one simple kite up there in the sky and one giant Helicopter with guns, once again we weren't the ones who brought the guns to this rally. We walked up this hill and we walked right into the crowd from Ripple effect who after anti flag had a guest band Rage against the machine showed up but was shut down by the police so that crowd was a little upset as we walked up, and for what its worth our chant was who's streets are these ...our streets!, and the two rallies joined forces this upset the police force greatly we noticed all the police going to masks (interestingly enough horses don't get masks during riots ) the helicopter got lower the Kite still flew in the sky and the riot police where starting to change there tactics they closed in the streets on us one block after another and they would not let anyone out they didn't tell anyone how to get out they just kept closing in on us. I saw the eyes of the young warriors who knew this was going to happen, kids who came here maybe more prepared for this moment than I and they where ready, My crew stayed close but evaluated all the exit options more people where getting pepper sprayed the riot police had started to interlock arms and where closing in even more. we found the one route in the city that they had set up to escape (about 10 blocks out of our way) and escaped as the things where getting worse. after we left the police got closer and then they set off percussion grenades and sprayed children with pepper spray indiscriminately and caused a riot. What else is there to say. I had to think about this for a couple of days because the papers spoke of stinky anarchist and a few bad seeds which is just bullshit. If you remember how you felt the first time you realized that one man in Tienanmen square standing there in front of that tank then you know how brave those kids are and how they are standing up for freedoms so many people have forgotten we really have. Everything America was founded on is gone, the bill of rights... gone, the declaration of independence... irrelevant, and out there on those streets are a few kids feeding the hungry and fighting for the same things our founders fought for, they don't where perfume because its bullshit they don't dress like many people because they dumpster dive good clothes and sew up the few rips to make them function longer they speak about the importance of bike collectives and community and are genuinely working on a solution a solution that will never make the news bless them, they are changing the world they are being the change.
Harvest fest in MN Wookiefoot a MN. band that lives cooperatively and puts on amazing festivals (Including having a part in ripple effect) Well That's another amazing story I think Ill tell you some other day. Unless of course I see you at project earth next year then we can make some stories of our own.
As for fourty It's allot like 20 just slower!
I do want to pay respect to the Pink Ladies or Code pink These woman are true warriors riding there pretty pink bikes between us and the riot police and not getting the respect they deserve. If you see them please show your respect they are some of the bravest people I have ever met.