Hell-Raising in Philly

An Activist’s Guide to Protests Outside the Republican Convention

This party crashing will occur on August 1, when activists plan to protest the nation's criminal "in-justice" system—not only the death penalty, but also the war on drugs, overzealous cops, and the nation's spiraling imprisonment rate. Demonstrators will descend on busy intersections, armed with signs urging commuters to "Honk for Mumia." Prisoners' relatives will join policy experts for a day of panels on drug-law reform at the Shadow Convention. There will be outdoor speak-outs and an afternoon rally too, but the event most likely to make headlines will be efforts to disrupt the Republicans' party.

Convention protesters plan to try the same direct action tactics that landed activists on the cover of Newsweek last year, when they shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. For months, they have been strategizing—learning their legal rights, hiring buses to transport demonstrators, and practicing their puppet making. By linking the fight against globalization with the United States' own racially skewed system of punishment, proponents of direct action hope to diversify their ranks.

Participants in the August 1 events include the Direct Action Network, Academics for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Hunter College's Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM), the Prison Moratorium Project, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. For information on direct action activities, visit www.freemumia.com or call the Direct Action Network at 212-629-1775. For other events, call the Pennsylvania Abolitionists at 215-724-6120.—Jennifer Gonnerman

The Million Billionaire March
July 30-August 1

Spearheaded by United for a Fair Economy (UFE), activists plan to keep up the moxie of Seattle and D.C. with political street theater. At the Million Billionaire March (www.billionairesforbushorgore.com), cigar-chomping billionaires clad in black suits and evening gowns will sashay through Philadelphia to make the point that big money has already bought the election—and that no matter who wins, people with money will still have the power. The tycoons will begin their festivities on July 30, when they'll form a contingent in the Unity 2000 march (meet at 11 a.m. at 29th and JFK Boulevard, on the west side of the river).

Next comes the Billionaires' Rampage, a day of direct action (August 1, meeting time and place still TBA). Group members will auction off advertising rights to the Liberty Bell, encircle the Federal Reserve building (then meditate to "levitate the interest rate"), and perform a feng shui ritual at the site of a new stadium to be built with taxpayer subsidies in Chinatown.

Finally, there's a Coronation Party (on August 2, to coincide with the nomination of Bush). Billionaires will crown the "two-headed BushGore candidate" before Jello Biafra's performance at the Lost Film Festival. 9:30 p.m. The Plays & Player Theater, 1714 Delancey Place.—Lenora Todaro

How to Get to Philly

Bus: Greyhound (800-231-2222; www.greyhound.com) and Peter Pan/Trailways (800-343-9999) run buses from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, about every half hour; $20 one way, $39 round-trip.

Train: New Jersey Transit (973-762-5100; www.njtransit.state.nj.us) trains depart from Penn Station and arrive in Trenton, where there is a direct connection to Philadelphia via SEPTA trains. Round trips are $28, available from Penn Station ticket windows.

Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL) trains leave from Penn Station every hour or so; under optimum conditions the trip takes around an hour and 20 minutes. Round-trip fare: $90.

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