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North Carolina: Students and Workers Confront Palin Rally

by Doug Michel |
November 30, 2008
Read more articles in
Baner: No to Palin and McCain
SDSers protest with hundreds of others. (Fight Back! News)

Asheville, NC - When members of the University of North Carolina - Asheville Students for a Democratic Society (UNC-Asheville SDS) heard that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was coming to hold one of her lynch mob style rallies in Asheville, there was no question of organizing a protest. Workers, students and members of the Asheville community assembled outside of the Civic Center downtown. On Oct. 26, there was an outpouring of over 300 protesters who confronted Palin and her rally of supporters.

In the last couple weeks before the elections, Palin and her ultra-conservative base have stepped up and amplified attacks against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. He has been accused by the McCain/Palin campaign of being a “terrorist” and a “socialist.” Others call Obama a Muslim black radical and have cried out for his assassination at rallies.

The Palin rally in Asheville was mostly attended by white male out-of-towners. Some of her supporters called protesters “baby killers,” told them to “get a job,” and shouted “socialist!” Signs out of two windows in an apartment building next to the Civic Center taunted, “KKK for Palin.”

Palin’s attempt to stir up racism, race-baiting and red-baiting were not tolerated by the local progressives and radicals. Anti-McCain/Palin protesters and Obama supporters united against the Republican agenda by demanding an end to the war and to defeat John McCain in the November elections.

Protesters confronted the rally chanting, “Palin go home!” and “No more of the same! Vote against McCain!” throughout afternoon and into the evening. Protesters also called for an end to hate speech and anti-women attacks - some women calling Palin a traitor. Still others in transit and teachers unions raised support for the Employee Free Choice Act and health care for all.

Halfway through the demonstration, protesters rushed across the street to confront Palin supporters face to face. The confrontation lasted a couple hours. Cops told protesters to stay off the Civic Center grounds. Most of protesters left after nearly all Palin supporters had gone inside. Inside the Civic Center, a few protesters attempted to disrupt the rally. They were forced to leave.

Sarah Buchner, secretary of UNC-Asheville SDS says, “I felt incredibly empowered today surrounded by a growing movement of people who are actively against a McCain presidency. This kind of presidency would hurt movements on the left such as women’s liberation, LGBTQ, immigrant rights, environmental and anti-war.”

Protesters also say the Palin protest brought a more radical consciousness to Obama supporters and progressives.

With only a few days notice, SDSers got the word out and turned up the heat against a failing campaign based on racism, fear-mongering and anti-socialist rhetoric. The Stop the War, Stop McCain national campaign in SDS urges all progressives, radicals and revolutionaries to vote against the McCain/Palin ticket.