Protests Shame Posh Dems
SANTA MONICA, August 13 -- Chanting "Gore, Gore political whore" and "how much does democracy cost?" several hundred raucous demonstrators made life miserable for the Blue Dog Democrats attending an extravagant corporate sponsored event on the Santa Monica pier on Sunday night.
What particularly raised the ire of the demonstrators on this warm summer night was the long list of corporate supporters for the party, including tobacco conglomerate Phillip Morris, corporate giants Pepsi Cola and Federal Express, and the behemoth Recording Industry Association of America.
Unlike the other protests that occured today, such as the one supporting workers at the non-unionized Loews Hotel just a few hundred yards away on Ocean Avenue, during tonight's demonstration, there was no major police presence for the first 90 minutes of the party. Until the squads arrived, the noisy and opinionated protestors bottlenecked the Democrats' passage to the pier, eagerly engaging passersby in face-to-face confrontations. The party goers looked shocked when they arrived, unware that would have to run the gauntlet in order to get to the pier.
The party was being thrown to honor the conservative Congressional Democratic party caucus known as Blue Dogs, many of whose members are Southern and more right-wing than the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the centrist group that is lead by Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Leiberman.
Well after 9:30, a group of mounted police strode onto the pier to provide a funnel for party goers to pass through. But their entrance did not tranquilize the scene. Their horses only made the protest more dramatic. Demonstrators started jumping up and down and throwing fake thousand dollar bills at the attendees.
Cell phone calls to protestors at other venues signaling that this was the best game in town created an influx of demonstrators as the evening wore on. The demonstrators included the satirical group Billionaires for Gore (or Bush), PETA protestors in pink pig costumes, a small affinity group called the dot commies, and many members of the Green Party who walked over from their earthier party a few doors down. One 19-year-old protestor from Claremont College said she was protesting the fact that big corporations were pouring money into political parties in order to get political favors.
The protestors riled several party goers, who complained that such negative press would only benefit the campaign to elect George Bush. "The Democrats have to raise corporate money to keep up with the Republicans," said one party goer who described himself as a former staffer for a liberal member of Congress. "Until the laws get changed, this is self defense, because the Republicans are always going to have more money. We need to be funded to fight for human rights and working people."
Other attendees had little to say, grimly explaining that they were just going to a party as they shouldered their way through the crowd of vociferous chanting.