Fight Back!: What are the Coalition’s plans for the rally against the RNC?
Fernando Figueroa: Well, in a few short days, on the first day of the Republican convention, we will be hosting the largest single march against the RNC here in Tampa, Florida. Thousands of protesters will be converging at Perry Harvey Sr. Park at 10:00 a.m. for a rally with dozens of speakers, including prominent speakers such as Joe Iosbaker of the United National Anti War Coalition and Carlos Montes, a longtime Chicano rights organizer in Los Angeles. From there we will be holding a permitted march through downtown Tampa to Protest RNC Square, an area only a few blocks from the site of the convention. What we have been trying to do is unite all progressive groups in opposition to the agenda of hatred and austerity being pushed by the 1% and their Republican tools. In its place we are uniting around a People’s Agenda including the five demands for “Good Jobs, Affordable Education, Healthcare, Equality, and Peace.”
Fight Back!: Can you give us some of the details of the day-to-day organizing?
Figueroa: For those of us here in Tampa and around the state of Florida, the organizing has been a non- stop process for the past few months. We began by building the Coalition with the plan for one big march on the first day of the convention. We talked to a diverse array of progressive groups, gathered endorsements and eventually held an organizers’ meeting in Tampa back in June. Simultaneously, we were securing permits for the march and we felt this was important because we want to provide as safe of an event as possible, especially for the undocumented as well as families with children. From there, it has been a daily process of gathering donations to pay for our stage, PA system, porta-potties, and other materials necessary for a successful rally. Now that we’re a few days away, we are making the final preparations including making signs and training for event staff.
Fight Back!: How do you feel about the mobilization to bring people here for the event?
Figueroa: We are expecting thousands of protesters to come to Tampa for the March from the Tampa Bay Area, the state of Florida, and even across the U.S. Fortunately, our mobilization efforts have been extremely successful due to the help of the our Coalition partners. Labor unions have been among the most giving with central labor councils providing speakers, donations and in some cases, even several busloads of trade unionists for the event. We have seen great examples of dedication from groups including Students for a Democratic Society who have been working tirelessly on bringing out their fellow students, even though for many universities, the protest is on the first day of classes.
Fight Back!: Do you have anything else to add?
Figueroa: I’d like to add that a lot of the day-to-day work for this event has been carried out largely by the youth and for me this is very promising. I think we young people are rising up to our moment in history to stand with all who oppose the 1% and their political parties. On Sept. 2, many of us will join the march on Wall Street South in North Carolina. People in this country and especially the youth are fed up with wars, unemployment, low-paying jobs, inequality and racist hatred we suffer from every day. It’s time for all of us who oppose the 1% to unite and that’s what we see happening with this rally in Tampa. We are well-prepared for this march and I think all of us will be sending a powerful message both to the 1% and the rest of the world that the people of the U.S. are choosing to fight back against austerity, hatred and war.