Clinton faced grassroots resistance from multiple organizations, including Metro Atlanta DSA, during her visit to Atlanta this past Friday. Earlier in the day, her appearance at Clark Atlanta University, intended to launch “African Americans for Hillary,” was interrupted as Black Lives Matter protesters with the #AUCShutItDown collective raised their voices, chanted, and started singing. This new generation of black liberation activists, in sharp contrast to the defensive Democratic Party elites and old guard civil rights leaders in attendance, sought to hold Clinton accountable for her dismal record on racist state violence and economic exploitation of people of color.
#AUCShutItDown released the following statement:
We will not endorse or tolerate a candidate who exploits our spaces, our voices and lived experiences to gain merit with the black elite of Atlanta. We are products of the state-sanctioned trauma Hillary Clinton has previously supported through legislation that forced black bodies into the United States Prison Plantation System. Legislation that enabled broken windows policing, school to prison incarceration, racial profiling, school resource segregation and mandatory minimum sentencing CANNOT end through rhetoric.
Aside from Clinton’s record of support for “tough-on-crime” policies that predictably created today’s system of mass incarceration; her cozy relationship with financial institutions that stole over half of all heritable wealth from communities of color during the housing crisis; and her participation in war crimes (e.g. Iraq, Honduras) that intensified racist xenophobia domestically, this contentious campaign rally follows Clinton’s recent announcement that she will continue to support the death penalty — arguably a form of legal lynching — and her strongly implied continued support for the racist war on drugs. Meanwhile, in recent days Bernie Sanders has pledged immediate action to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and rightly stated his opposition to execution as a brutal, ineffective, and racist form of murder.
During Clinton’s visit, a coalition of activists from Metro Atlanta DSA and Georgia for Bernie Sanders promoted a more progressive alternative, rejecting the untenable presumption that Clinton represents the interests of black and working Atlantans. This diverse group deliberately distanced itself from the Clark Atlanta rally out of respect for black autonomy — and powerful black-led resistance by organizations such as #AUCShutItDown. Instead, Georgia for Bernie made its grassroots presence highly visible throughout the midtown and downtown areas that evening, as a dozen activists used various guerilla outreach tactics to boost Bernie’s name recognition, engage in political discussion, and stimulate the imagination of Bernie supporters looking for ways to take action.
LED-illumated signs, inspired by the Overpass Light Brigade, spelled out “BERNIE 2016” on the North Avenue overpass over I-75/I-85 for over 3 hours that night. While some activists held the illuminated signs, others distributed flyers and campaign buttons to pedestrians and drivers on the nearby streets, as some supportive drivers on the busy interstate below honked in support.
DSA activists also deployed the “Berniesignal,” a powerful yet portable theater lamp capable of projecting liberatory messsages onto the Atlanta skyline. Bernie’s campaign logo remained on the side of the Crown Plaza hotel for nearly half an hour, visible from the interstate, until it was moved to an equally visible spot on the old Georgia Archives Building for another 20 minutes.
Finally, Georgia for Bernie artists left a lasting message around the midtown area in the form of chalk art. By the end of the night, with scarcely any organizing effort and expense, students, socialists and progressives managed to reach an audience far exceeding the size of Clinton’s rally, using unusual and exciting tactics. The overarching message is clear: when militaristic, Wall Street backed politicians come to our city, attempting to pander to marginalized groups they’ve exploited for decades, they should expect a democratic socialist backlash!
PAID FOR BY DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA (dsausa.org). Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.