Evaluation of anti-Klan rally on Grant street

(Note -- this isn't intended to be either diplomatic or finger-pointing, but rather a political analysis and evaluation. Responses and discussion are encouraged.)

Overall I thought that the Grant-street-area rally to protest the KKK was a huge success. We defied the dire predictions of the politicians, police, media and other pundits who had no confidence in our ability to organize this rally and tried to scare people away by warning that there would be violence and that we would end up acting like children. There were between 2,000 and 3,000 protestors, about the same size as the market square rally (which was predicted to be much larger than ours), and we outnumbered the KKK by about 75 to 1. We got national press coverage (New York Times, CNN, NPR etc.) who, unlike the local media, knew that the real story was on Grant street. While there were a couple skirmishes on Saturday, there were no incidents in the area that the Grant Street Anti-Klan Coalition organized -- Forbes Ave. The skirmishes (brief tear-gassing and confrontations with police) took place in the cage, which we did our best to convince people to stay out of, and on Fourth Ave.

The nature of the demonstration and logistics was such that we couldn't control the situation in the way that a group normally controls a rally that they call for. Due to our overwhelming success at publicizing the rally through the media, posters, tabling, internet and organizational network, and the fact that people in general just have a tendency to want to go see the KKK when they rally, a big cross-section of the public was there -- Black and White, young and old, etc. While it was great to see such a large and diverse turn-out, the volume of people exceeded our ability to completely marshall the situation. However we did difuse a number of situations which could have been a lot worse if we weren't there and hadn't set the political tone.

There are a couple things we could have done better if we had had more resources and time. But the positives out-weighed the negatives. We did great publicity and media work, we set the political tone well, we organized a good multi-group coalition and had as good a marshalling team as could be expected.

We managed to avoid being caged in by the police, but more importantly, we have not allowed the borgouise of this city to cage us in psychologically or politically. We refused to be intimidated by police claims of "violent outside agitators" into going along with their security set-up. We refused to let undercover cops who spied on our first meeting and police who tore down our posters intimidate us. We didn't accept the liberals' insistence that we are unable to organize a disciplined rally and must instead retreat to Market Square and rely on corrupt politicians to solve our problems. We've proven to ourselves and the rest of the people in this city and in fact this region that we must and can organize a principled, independent movement against racism and fascism, and for justice. And we've earned the respect and authority to help lead this struggle.

This was the hardest rally that we have organized and in fact was the hardest one in Pittsburgh for a long time. We all fought hard to make the rally a success (legally, logistically, media-wise and, most importantly, politically), and we all learned and developed a lot from it as well. As we know, this will not be the last demonstration. As Cornell said, there is still a klan-ish mentality on Grant street. We still need justice for Jonny Gammage, and they are still threatening to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal. Let's take what we've learned from this rally and the alliances that we've formed, and carry them forward to build the movement into an even larger and more effective one.

In struggle,