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Monday, August 25, 2008

Blue Scholars Slog From the Democratic National Convention

posted by on August 25 at 11:20 AM

Seattle hiphop stars Blue Scholars are down in Denver, performing during the Democratic National Convention. Here’s what they’ve reported back so far. Words by Geo, photos by Sabzi.

1. The Arrival

After being bopped for an unexpected charge for having just ONE bag to check in at the Spokane airport, we arrived in Denver at 9:30 am. The first thing we see out of the gate is a row of about Obama supporters holding up welcome and campaign signs. They were eclipsed by the biggest sign of all… for FOX News.


2. The Numbers

50,000 people are expected from out of town this week—20,000 of whom are media and press. 4,000 police officers will be on duty all week, along with 2,500 national guard. 75,000+ are expected to attend Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech at Invesco Field (damn shame what they call Mile High Stadium these days). And one large sign declaring that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican:


3. The Capitol


Benjamin, a kind young fellow organizing with the Recreate 68 folks, drops us off at Lincoln Avenue facing the Capitol. He’s running off the fumes of a two-hour sleep, which makes three of us. Atop the building’s steps, dead prez breaks into their first song, a remix over that Black Rob joint (“War” instead of “Whoa”). 1,500 people look on.


Ward Churchill and Kathleen Cleaver are chillin’ in the shade on the building’s left side. When I meet Ward, he asks if John is with us. John who, I ask? He says John Sinclair, as in John Sinclair and his Blues Scholars, a jazz outfit fronted by the former MC-5 manager and ex-Chairman of the White Panther Party. A cutie from Out The Box TV interviews Ward, ending the segment by looking into the camera and yelling “DNC, bitch!” Ward glances over, confounded.


It’s sweltering and somebody forgot to provide water. The elevation magnifies everything. After dead prez’s spirited performance and a shoutout to their candidate of choice, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney, the crowd is ready to march. In a couple hours, they’ll be back, and we’ll greet them with music with the help of our gracious soundman, Wynn (Wind?), who might share more than few DNA strands with Seattle’s own rally/mobilization soundman of choice, Bob Barnes.


Thanks Wynn.

4. The Compassionate Conservatives


Ten pro-McCain-ers are holding up “NOBAMA” signs across the street. With or without the signs, they look like a bunch of douche-bag frat dudes (and one sorority sister). As we walk by, the sorority sister hands us a “Vote Red” Denver GOP flyer, which features this quote from Jon Stewart:

“After a quick meet-and-greet with King Abdullah, Obama was off to Israel, where he made a quick stop at the manger in Bethlehem where he was born.”

Do these poor souls even know that Jon Stewart is a fucking comedian, much less who he is? Desperate people, these neo-cons are. I tell her that they’re not true republicans because Red is the communists’ color. She looks at me like she’s doing calculus in her head. I walk away.


5. Standoff at Lincoln Avenue


At 2 pm, the march still hasn’t returned, but a nice crowd of a couple hundred stand anxiously waiting the rap. With nobody around to tell us whether or not to push the set back, we begin, hoping the march will arrive during our set. 45 minutes later, RA, Saba and I are done, and the marchers still have not returned. At least Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. dug the set.


It turns out they marchers were halted a couple blocks away, barricaded by the riot squad preventing them from disrupting traffic on Lincoln Avenue. Something happens—we can’t tell what, exactly, since were a few hundred yards away, and somehow the crowd breaks through. Suddenly, Lincoln Avenue is shut down with several hundred people slowly crossing the street.


A power struggle ensues between two would-be leaders in the crowd. One, with a megaphone, throws up a peace sign and urges restraint, yelling “we’ve come in peace.” Another, sans megaphone, begins chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” He wins, and the crowd claims Lincoln Avenue. The riot squad lines up, facing the rabble. The rabble refuses to budge. Bystanders watch, cameras in hand. Someone throws a bottle at the police but they stand down. With the police/protester ratio heavily favoring the state, the crowd intuitively disperses, but not without a few tense moments.

We’re watching this all happen from the Capitol steps with RA Scion, Dave Meinert, Jeff Chang, Davey D, and a handful of protesters of color who, unlike some other people, are trying to avoid arrest. We all agree that while direct action is necessary in principle, its practice must be timely and tactical.

Words by Geo, photos by Sabzi.

RSS icon Comments


Sigh. You can take the douchebag protesters out of Seattle, but....

Posted by A Non Imus | August 25, 2008 11:36 AM

What the hell does "necessary in principle" mean, anyway?

Posted by w7ngman | August 25, 2008 11:43 AM

I'm curious about the band's reasons/rationale for performing as part of the protest. Will we be getting any insight into that?

Posted by Levislade | August 25, 2008 11:55 AM

I've kinda lost track -- is Cynthia McKinney the candidate that true lefties are supposed to throw their vote away on this time? I've heard her name come up at parties recently, so her cachet must be building.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 25, 2008 11:58 AM
5 asked "John who?" in regards to John Sinclair? Oh boy. Where IS Josh Feit when we need him?

Posted by free john NOW | August 25, 2008 12:11 PM

This post reminds me: guest leftists would be nice to have on slog from time to time, since Stranger staff are mainly liberal environmentalists.

Posted by Trevor | August 25, 2008 12:13 PM

Look up Cynthia McKinney on YouTube and you'll see how bat-shit crazy she is.

Posted by elswinger | August 25, 2008 12:16 PM

Great post, but Jesus, if there was ever a stupid protest this is it. Do Blue Scholars still think the monorail is under construction in the Rainier Valley?

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 25, 2008 12:19 PM

Baking soda, cocaine (how sweet) I need to buy me a crack pipe and I'm complete.

Posted by blue scholarzzzzuck | August 25, 2008 12:27 PM

Ward Cleaver's at the Democratic National Convention?

Posted by DOUG. | August 25, 2008 1:20 PM

Ward Churchill? don't give that man any platforms to stand on. glad to know he doesn't let public humilitation, plagarism, or fraud get him down.

Posted by Jiberish | August 25, 2008 2:34 PM

Wow, many haters out there..? I'll stick my neck out here and say thanks for caring enough to attend and some more thanks for taking the time to blog about it!

Posted by Andy | August 25, 2008 3:40 PM

Thanks for sharing guys! Seems intense in Denver! Stay safe, be a part of history and keep representing that two oh sickness :) (b)

Posted by obama08 | August 25, 2008 3:45 PM

Let's Get Free(Publicity)

Posted by G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T. | August 25, 2008 4:11 PM

FYI - The name of where Obama will speak on Thursday is "Invesco Field at Mile High." The Mile High is still there and most people (who aren't otherwise being paid) still gladly call it Mile High.

Posted by Ed | August 25, 2008 6:05 PM

Buy "Kick Out The Jams" (the album) by the MC5 and listen to the first couple minutes. That's John Sinclair!

Posted by elswinger | August 25, 2008 6:12 PM

Looks like the boys other half, common markets lead guy is blogging elsewhere. seems to have a bit more humor that this one.

Posted by Jerzy | August 25, 2008 7:26 PM

Hey, just to say, wasn't comparing the excellence of the Blue Scholars to the lameness of this 'Recreate 68' business (umm, protest at the convention of the party that is pursuing the war, maybe?) but just saying there is a way that the left gets so lefty it fights itself, which is definitely reflected in the Scholars song complaining about closing businesses for 'monorail construction' which never happened. There's a special kind of absolute virtue which ends up defeating its own ends. (And yeah, I voted for Nader in 2000 - Gore's running mate was JOE LIEBERMAN, who might be McCain's running mate this time.) Read Obama's books: he gets it. He GETS it, and he might be president. This is nearly supernatural. Guys, play the convention party, not the protest, the tent really is that big this time around.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 25, 2008 10:33 PM

The Republican's are Communists. They are trying to bring down the capitalists system by unmoring its foundations. That way the revolution can take place, and we can all live in a workers paradise.

Posted by Bubbles | August 26, 2008 1:41 PM

Caught the show on the capital steps on Sunday (awessome), was looking forward to the tent state show last night (tuesday) but ya'll didn't show. Hope all is well, heard some nasty rumors...

Posted by Anonymous Commenter | August 27, 2008 3:16 PM

Official statement on the Tent City no-show here:

Posted by Geo | August 28, 2008 12:52 PM

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