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Massive protest at Republican National Debate

By staff |
November 12, 2015
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Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression speaking at protest against Republican debate.
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Milwaukee, WI - About 1200 protesters took to the streets, Nov.10, outside of the Milwaukee Theater where the Republican National Debate was being held. A coalition of activist organizations including Anti-War Committee (AWC), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) demanded “Dump Trump! No more wars! Stop attacks on workers, women, immigrants, Black, brown and LGBTQ people! End U.S. aid to Israel!”

Protesters marched through the streets chanting “Free free Palestine,” “Black lives matter,” and “Hey hey, ho ho the GOP has got to go!” Protesters then converged on a corner outside of the Milwaukee Theater where representatives from different organizations spoke.

“We are here to say that the hate speech from the Republican presidential candidates is not welcome in Milwaukee,” said Jacob Flom of the AWC. “We believe it’s against everything we stand for and we are united against their message.”

The rally was interrupted by a reactionary yelling, “If you don’t like America, go home!” Protesters responded by chanting “Dump Trump,” ejected him from the rally and the speakers continued.

Gadeer Ayesh, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Marquette University, lived in Palestine until she her family was forced to flee: “I was in kindergarten when the Intifada broke out in 2000 and my school was actually bombed. The atmosphere there kept on getting worse and worse until we couldn’t go downtown, we couldn’t leave our village and even if we could leave our village, we couldn’t leave at night because that is when all of the military would come in.”

The U.S. gives $3.15 billion a year in military aid to Israel. Nearly all of the presidential candidates in both the Republican and Democratic parties have stated that they are firmly committed to continuing support for Israel.

“I still have friends there and I still have family there who live through this every day,” Gadeer continued. “It’s a daily struggle of not knowing if today is going to be the day that a soldier is going to stop me and strip search me. Is today going to be the day where a soldier is going to shoot me or my brother or my father or my mother or my son.”

GOP front-runner Donald Trump has gained much notoriety since launching his campaign with the promise to build a massive wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. During the debate, Trump praised “Operation Wetback” of the Eisenhower administration in 1954, when over 2.1 million undocumented immigrants were deported or threatened with deportation to Mexico. Trump has run a great deal of his campaign on the promise to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.

Iuscely Flores is one of those 11 million. She a member of YES at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and for her a Trump presidency could mean that she could be deported. She told the crowd “I have been in the states for 14 years now so I am from here, I don’t know anything else. This is my country and it’s not fair that I have to defend myself from somebody who wants to be the president of this country.”

A crowd of fast-food workers, activists and community members from Fight for 15, Voces de la Frontera and the Coalition for Justice joined the rally, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “The people united will never be defeated!” They brought several large giant puppets of the Republican presidential candidates, including Donald Trump.

Fight for 15 across the country held a national day of action, demanding that the federal government raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Inside the Republican presidential debate, Trump said that wages for U.S. workers are “too high,” stating his opposition to raising the minimum wage. According to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are no counties in Wisconsin where a worker can afford rent working full time on minimum wage.

Members of SJP then led a die-in action, beating on a drum for every injustice that is committed against working and oppressed people across the world, as the crowd all gradually collapsed onto the pavement of the streets.

Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression spoke during the die-in: “These politicians are all racists. They have the same agenda that they’ve always had. It is a racist agenda. They give more and more to the rich and they give nothing to the poor. This system is bankrupt. So what do we do to address this? We need a powerful people’s movement. That’s what we’re doing in Chicago, we’re building a powerful people’s movement to stop police crimes. We just had a brother who was murdered here not too long ago. His name was Dontre Hamtilton. I just heard on my way down here that the federal government whose stated responsibility is to protect the lives and rights of the citizens of this country is not going to do nothing about his murder. And that’s what we can expect from them. The police in our communities are like a military force with the impunity of a military force. We’ve got to raise a lot of hell before we get any justice.”

Protesters then again marched through the streets, encircling the Milwaukee Theater where the debates were being held chanting, “Bigots go home!” before concluding the rally.

Daniel Williams of Freedom Road Socialist Organization stated, “The Republican Party isn’t scared of the Democrats. What they’re scared of is us. They’re scared of you and I together out here fighting everything wrong with this society and threatening the power that rests at its foundations, which is capitalism. I say that we overthrow these foundations. We can, we must and we will.”