Crashing the Party:  Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000 by Kris Hermes (PM Press)

Reviewed by A. Iwasa

Starting off with a strong Foreword then Introduction placing the 2000 Republican National Convention (R2K) squarely in the pre-9/11 National Security State trajectory showing again and again how the United States government had been steadily ratcheting up its monitoring and disruption of political dissidents long before 9/11.

Philly itself, host of the R2K and future host of the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) is similarly contextualized in its bloody history of police brutality and heavy-handed injustice system when it comes to civilians, and total lack of accountability when it comes to the police.

Also the R2K Legal Collective and the defense of the R2K arrestees is outlined as part of the re-emergence of activist-led legal collectives and radicals leading their own defense in political trials.

Then with the beginning of the first chapter enters the infamous John Timoney.  Sworn in as Philly’s police commissioner in 1998, I first became familiar with him after he led the oppression of the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protests.  The police brutality was so bad and systematic, it became known as the Miami Model. It turns out Timoney had been heading such affairs since the August1988 Tompkins Square Park Riot in New York City. Here again, a systemic series of oppressive acts, regardless of which of the capitalist class political parties are calling the shots is outlines.  He even policed the DNC in 1992!

Then Hermes moves on to the initial threats of political repression from the state and the beginning of street action.  Similar to his own form of counter-protest hopping, Timoney had Philly police go to Seattle six months before the R2K to observe the actions against the World Trade Organization (WTO).  This shows how we must also be vigilant, constantly studying the state, and not simply trying to use old tactics that may have worked in another time and/or place.

Along the same lines, February 2000 the FBI Academy in Virginia hosted a conference for police commanders around the country to study the WTO protests, and to prepare for future actions.  Philly police attended other events in preparation such as the April 2000 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank protests in Washington, DC, where they even conducted surveillance.  And all this before the protests even started!

There are many reasons to read this book:  history, strategy both in the streets and in the courts, and for those of us thinking of attending the upcoming protests against the DNC in Philly, and/or the RNC in Cleveland, Ohio.  We should all be doing this sort of homework before we hit the streets, since we know the ruling class is doing their’s.

All out for Philly!  All out for Clevo!  All Power to the People!

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