Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC Protester Profile: Rockslide and the Anti-Green Capitalists

[Democratic National Convention] "I'm not giving out my name today," said the young man with the straw hat and bullhorn leading the Anti-Green Capitalism march throughout Denver yesterday. "But you can call me Rockslide."

Rockslide led the way along with a small army of more than 100 protesters. The group of well-meaning and ripe-smelling kid anarchists took to the streets to call out the hypocrisy of the "green" convention.

Decked out in battle colors of dirty camo green and black bandanas, the group moved peacefully but passionately, shouting chants and drumming on plastic buckets. When a reporter asked Rockslide if they had a permit, he tapped his hand over his heart, saying "This is our permit."

Which might explain the surprise many motorists had as they turned a corner only to find hundreds of green revolutionaries clogging the street. But if the march seemed impromptu, that's not to say it wasn't well-orchestrated. The group stopped outside numerous office buildings and relayed information about the polluters inside and also about how they were supporting the DNC convention financially. Citing Oxfam studies, the group called out Denver-based Newmont Gold, which protesters said had displaced 20,000 of the rural poor in Ghana with a mine. Newmont donated $250,000 to the Democratic National Convention, much like Xcel Energy, responsible for half of Colorado's mercury emissions -- and $1 million contributed to the convention. (Check this out for a more complete of corporate DNC sponsors.)

Police watched the march closely, but were far from confrontational. Several riot police just smiled and took photos as keepsakes. At one tense moment, as the marchers were pushing down a crowded downtown sidewalk chanting anti-capitalist slogans, a street vendor seeing the crowd come up anxiously hollered "Yo! Get your Obama pins, only $3!"

After the march had finished its circuit downtown businesses and made corporate chieftans uncomfortable by shouting outside their offices -- "For the earth we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!" -- I asked Rockslide what the next step was.

"We're just going to keep putting pressure on politicians to come up with real energy solutions," he said, catching his breath. "We want to stop land exploitation like mining in western Colorado and Utah, the uranium mines in Paradox [Colorado] near the Utah border. We need to keep these areas wild.

"We also wanted to break the spell of greenness of this convention," Rockslide says. "It's been touted as the greenest convention, but they've just done some recycling and offered a few free bikes. While people are flying in from all over, going to lavish parties and advocating policies that aren't sustainable." (Eric S. Peterson)

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