By Nick Mottern

When people ask me how things went at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I say that the following experiences made me hopeful:

  1. From Monday, July 25 to Thursday, July 28 we had a very positive public response to our Anti-War Truth Display featuring three drone replicas, death masks of drone victims and a painted memorial to children killed by drones spread out on one of the busiest streets in downtown Philadelphia, in front of the Arch Street United Methodist Church, a church noted for its social services and political action on behalf of justice and peace. This thanks to arrangements made by Bob Smith, director of Brandywine Peace Community, the Rev. Robin Hynicka, pastor of the church and Frank Jones, the building manager who helped us pack our displays away every day in the church and bring them out the next morning.

Here are the two flyers that we handed out.

Hil-Don_front_A.pdf | Hil-Don_back_A.pdf

Drones_front_B-1.pdf | Drones_back_B-1.pdf

Here is press coverage that includes mention of our display.



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Tatiana Makovkin, in the floppy hat, explains the paintings on cloth of children killed by U.S. drones, created by her and others who protest drone war at the Beale U.S. Air Force Base outside Sacramento,CA. Photo by Nick Mottern

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Display of death masks representing a few of the 7,000 plus people killed by U.S. drones; intermingled with these masks were five masks of African-Americans killed by U.S. police. Attachment B, at the end of this bulletin, is the explanation of the display that appeared with it, which also credits those who produced it. Photo by Nick Mottern

  1. On Wednesday afternoon, we held an anti-war speak-out, organized by Samantha Goldman, of World Can’t Wait, that attracted at least 100 people. I was extremely impressed that the majority of those attending were in their 20s and 30s. Given the fact that the Democratic convention attracted thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters, it might seem ridiculous to be excited that 100 people turned out to talk and hear about U.S. wars, and that most were younger than 40, but given the low level of anti-war awareness and activity in the U.S. today, as noted in this article, particularly among younger people, we were very heartened.



Emily Yates, of Iraq Veterans Against the War, sings at the July 27 anti-war speak-out. Tom Mullian, who also performed, is in the background. Yes we made the mic stand out of sticks. Photo by Nick Mottern

  1. We got a chance to talk with some Bernie Sanders supporters, and I found hope that many of them intend to keep working for basic economic changes underwriting the Sanders agenda by shifting their support to Jill Stein, who also has a strong anti-war/anti-drone war position. If they Green Pary horse gets shot out from under them, I think they will develop another vehicle for change. I told a woman in her 20s, who came to the convention from California to work for Sanders, that we created our display because we felt in principle that we had to bring forward the anti-war message given the silence on war in the Democratic Party, and she said: “Democrats don’t like to talk about unpleasant things.” It was very clear that many Sanders people were comfortable being skunks at the DNC lawn party and going forward.  
  1. Our display was across the street from a large plaza near City Hall, and in the messages of pro-Bernie speakers, white and black, blasting through the loudspeakers, that there was an understanding of the spiritual, intellectual and economic connections between people being oppressed by the U.S. government overseas and those who are living in impoverished, essentially colonized communities in the U.S., communities in which police abuse and killing are common-place and essential elements of repression.
  1. Gleaming glass skyscrapers rise in downtown Philadelphia like spires of the Emerald City.   But, Philadelphia is one the poorest major U.S. cities; Bob Smith said that it is essentially bankrupt.

http://www.cbsnews.com/media/americas-11-poorest-cities/10/ We drove through the Fishtown neighborhood, marked by desolate vacant lots, abandoned factories, and bleak tenements and streets. You find the same in parts of Germantown, and Bob said that the worst poverty is in Kensington. No politician at the convention spoke of the rawness of this kind of poverty. I believe that these places and others like them will blow sooner or later, and that this is likely to set off a chain reaction. I think there is very little likelihood that any current political party will move agressively to remedy the suffering of America’s Fishtowns and Kensingtons, but I also had the feeling that the people in their 20s and 30s, black and white, whom I met and heard speaking will correct these gross inequities.