Power to the People: Life for Mother Earth and Her Children
By Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP
Despite the brutally hot weather, about 10,000 activists marched, danced and sang for a “Climate Revolution” and a “Ban on Fracking” on Sunday, July 24, 2016 in Philadelphia before the Democratic National Convention began. We traveled from Maryland, New York, (including six buses from New York City) New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and states from across the country. The DNC had refused to include a ban on fracking in the Democratic Party Platform. On our bus were members of the Pledge of Resistance Baltimore, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Harford County Climate Action.
Gathering at Philadelphia’s City Hall with the statue of Ben Franklin looking down approvingly, some of us tried to cool off by wading through the sprinklers. We joined the march gathering behind the drone replica leading the Peace & Environmental Justice Contingent.
A band of musicians playing clarinets, tubas, trumpets, drums, and guitars gave us a playful spirit as we began. Our group carried my banner: STOP THE WAR MACHINE: EXPORT PEACE, which had been held as evidence after 13 of us had been arrested on January 12th, for daring to ask the Capitol Police to deliver a petition to President Obama to give a real State of the Union. On May 23rd the case was dismissed. However, the banner was not retrieved until July 14th.
Along the streets we met friends in the movement. Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK: Women for Peace walked over and gave me a hug. We came across Amy Goodman covering the march for “Democracy Now.” “Thanks for your good and holy work,” I said. Bernie Sanders’ supporters were everywhere.
Four of us held the banner high: Bernie Brown, Teresa Reuter Jeanne Dresser and me. Alongside us was Cindy Farquhar pushing Sharon Jones in her wheel chair. My partner, Max Obuszewski of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, walked alongside me with his signs: NUCLEAR POWER: Not Safe After All These Years and HOPKINS DRONE RESEARCH: Killing by Remote Control. Every so often he would nudge us to straighten the banner and to stop while media or citizens took videos or photos. Fortunately, now and then, we were asked if we wanted to be sprayed with water.
The march ended at Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell resides. We found a shady place to rest. At 3 p.m. I relinquished my spot in the shade to join the “It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan” sponsored by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. From the RNC to the DNC these human rights activists are calling for Justice For Berta Caceres, the Honduran environmental activist who was assassinated in March this year and to denounce US military aid to Honduras and its foreign policy destroying frontline and indigenous communities in Honduras and globally.
Just as I arrived, Caceres’ daughter, Laura, began speaking in Spanish that was translated into English. With a 10-foot puppetista of her mother behind her, she indicted the US government and military for financing and training the perpetrators of the violence that takes the lives of Honduran campesinos. She also talked about her mother’s spirit, vision and courage. I was quite moved by her strength of purpose so soon after her mother’s death.
Along with the other women I was invited to hold a fan with the picture of Berta Caceres in front of my face during a photo-op.
“Berta no se murio,” (“Berta didn’t die.”) an organizer called out in rhythm.
“Se multiplico” (“She multiplied.”) we affirmed.
“Berta Vive! Vive” she continued, adding that we should raise our left arms. “La lucha sigue sigue.”
Yes, “the struggle continues, it continues…”