We The People: Press Release
The Peters, former Ridgefield residents, are in California
attending the Democratic Shadow Convention
and People's Convention
Issued by Catherine and Jeffrey Peters,
on assignment in Los Angeles, California
August 14, 2000
In Philadelphia we watched a coronation at the RNC (Republican National Committee, Republican National Convention) and heard issues at the Republican Shadow Convention (Campaign Finance Reform, the failed drug war, and the disparity between the rich and the poor).
In Los Angeles there is more talk of issues, but the money spent and raised is at an awesome level! In Philadelphia, the RNC tried to outdo the all time greats with their music, togetherness and lack of discord. While, in Los Angeles, the DNC (Democratic National Committee, Democratic National Convention) is bringing disparate groups together and talking more about issues - about what we as a people want from our government.
Counter to all this is the Shadow Convention, the brainchild of Arianna Huffington (ex-wife of Michael Huffington, who ran the most expensive Senate campaign in US history - and lost not only the race, but his wife and her political thought - she has become progressive versus regressive and arch conservative). The first Shadow Convention was in Philadelphia and now the second is in Los Angeles. The one in PA drew an older crowd- both elected officials and people of stature with thought provoking ideas to discuss; the one in LA has drawn a crowd of students, noted journalists, authors, and cutting edge progressives.
In Philadelphia we were at the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania. In LA we are at Patriotic Hall, an interesting neo-classic building full of veterans of war and hero memorabilia. In PA we had box lunches to purchase for $7.00 each ; in LA we have a coffee house with live music, wine, beer and some food in the basement of the hall. PA was peaceful, LA had the police do a close-down on Tuesday evening after they received reports of looting. Author, Gore Vidal one of the speakers took to the streets, leaping onto a nearby satellite truck asking the attendees to be peaceful, to "offend them in no way at all and save your lives. I'll do my best to report from the front. It reminds me of Chicago in 1968." Huffington even got into the fray, "manning" the barricades exclaiming: "I think we sent a clear message that we will not be silenced. And if they take us out of Patriotic Hall, we will take to the streets."
The police in PA and in LA are jittery, they seem to be expecting trouble even where none is created or intended. In PA demonstrators were arrested, and are still in jail! In LA there have been too many over reactions, and over 100 people have been arrested. The police are out in force, the streets are cordoned off, but the attitude for the most part is good.
EXCEPT for the blatant racial profiling which took place in Huntington Beach (south of LA) on Sunday - 5 Hispanic young men ran a yellow light and were stopped - by one policeman in his car; but then there were 2 cars and cops, then 3, then 4! Finally, one of them spoke Spanish - not really a relevant linguistic problem - all the youths were American born, English speaking, very polite and very scared! One of the boys had a gum wrapper with his things - the cops said it had a controlled substance in it - we saw it and it appeared to be empty. The "owner" of the gum wrapper was taken off to the station, the other 4 were released after the car was impounded - "call your family for a ride", said the cops.
No ride home offered, no sign of aggression only the a message the cops relayed - not only to the 5 youths - but to the neighborhood where this happened. This is not a neighborhood of gangs, or drugs, or street crime - rather a peaceful/ suburban area with wide streets, automatic sprinklers, Spanish style homes and friendly neighbors - too bad the boys did not live here - but, then neither do the cops!
This is what the Shadow Convention and the People's Conventions are about - issues/ real issues - the ones that the people know and understand and need our involvement about! Where do you stand on the topic of the "failed drug war"? Where do you stand on the issue of "the disparity between the rich and the poor"? And, where do you stand on the issue of "Campaign Finance Reform"?
Or, are you one of the ones that have figured out how to donate $1,000,000 to the DNC or the RNC - what do you expect to get for your Money? Does it make sense - is that the right thing to do in a true democracy? This is a democracy for all of the people - not just the special interests, not just for the few who can "bribe" one or some of our elected officials - this democracy is for all of us, rich and poor alike!