By: Andrew Volkers, Contributor
Saturday, Sept. 30 a broad coalition of left leaning political groups, including Maine John Brown Gun Club, Portland Confront Community Network for Resistance Organizing and Training (CONFRONT), International Socialist Organization: Portland, ME, Socialist Party of Maine, Socialist Alternative Maine, Bangor Racial and Economic Justice Coalition, Greater Portland SURJ, Central Maine SURJ, SURJ So Maine/Seacoast, March Forth Maine, Resources for Organizing and Social Change – ROSC, Progressive Portland, Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America, and Greater Bangor Area Branch Maine NAACP organized a demonstration at Capitol Park in Augusta to challenge a political rally purportedly claiming to “denounce political violence.” The rally stems from the growing rhetoric that Donald Trump helped amplify when he made comments on Charlottesville citing violence “on many sides”.
This aspect was touched on during the six or so speeches at the counter demonstration. “One of the official images for their event on their facebook page reads ‘no kkk, no antifa, no violent usa’ there should be no question, we do not conflate the white supremacist terror of the ku klux klan with the people brave enough to stand and face them,” stated Amy [last name withheld], one of the organizers of the counter demonstration and member of the ISO of Portland, Maine.
Attendance of the counter demonstration was somewhere between 60-80 people whereas the rally had an attendance of maybe twenty people. The two rallies were separated by a good distance, with the main rally happening at the state house and the counter rally down the hill at Capitol Park.
At the conclusion of the speeches, a group of demonstrators trekked to the state house and peacefully continued the demonstration across the street.
There were many victories to be had on Saturday. These included the broad coalition work of the groups involved, the direct counter demonstration across the street going swimmingly and without conflict, and outnumbering of the original rally.
The way these racist, sexist, xenophobic, classist, and nationalistic ideas and zealots will be defeated is through the mobilization of the people on the broad left and the success of a united front of groups and organizations. Students were present from UMaine Farmington, Bowdoin, University of Southern Maine and the coalition groups were geographically spread from southern Maine to Bangor.
Let it be said that the true political violence we need to denounce is the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the stripping of Title IX protections on university campuses, the housing crisis in Portland and nationwide, the acidic beliefs being spewed under the protections of an absolutist free speech, and the ever growing inequality between society’s classes.