Tempest members and contacts in the LA area attended the Long Beach rally and march for abortion rights earlier this month on October 8. Hector, Dana, Nina, Tina, and contact Josue (from Punto Rojo) arrived (thanks to Hector) with a banner reading “We Will Aid and Abet Abortion,” a table, and green bandanas (the color of the Mexican and Argentinian movements for abortion justice). We had a flyer emphasizing the need for militancy in the struggle and providing a link to our website.
The rally and march were smaller than expected, with perhaps 200 people at the height of the event. The politics from the front were quite terrible: The only avenue for change proposed was voting in the November midterm elections, and a number of elected officials from the area were represented in the subsequent “activist” fair. When we asked that Tina be included among the kickoff speakers, the emcee and organizer of the event was hesitant. When we showed her our flyer and attempted to explain our politics, she told us not to criticize the police, as she regarded the police as allies of the movement.
However, Tina was given a minute before the march kicked off. They spoke very well about the need for militant action and clinic defenses and also announced that we were there as Tempest. They led a chant. Their speech was very well received, especially by younger people in the audience, indicating that not all attendees were aligned with the organizers’ politics. A number of people asked for our flyers and we had a number of great conversations.
A short video of the event by Josue Ammerman, via YouTube.
The march was lively; we led a number of chants, attempting to be gender inclusive in them. One potential issue was with the chant “When abortion/our bodies (and variations) are under attack/ What do we do? Stand up, fight back!” I love that chant, but thinking about the several attendees in wheelchairs, I wondered whether we could adjust that or vary that to “Show up, fight back!” or something similar. As usual with marches on the Left, the pace left behind people who were not able to move as quickly. I think we need to be cognizant of this issue in situations where we have an opportunity to intervene with march leaders. We led a number of other chants and were well received.
At the activist fair at the end of the march, we set up an unauthorized table and displayed the bandanas and flyers. We were not shut down, and the table was busy. The two different bandanas read “We Will Aid and Abet Abortion” and “Abortion is Freedom.” They were a hit. Many people around us were very interested in an alternative to the electoral route.
It was great to be at an event with an alternative to offer. We were excited to meet some folks whom we might invite into activity and left feeling that we had contributed to making the event more militant, offering an alternative to electoralism, and greasing our rusty activist and communication wheels.
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Dana Cloud is a Tempest Collective member and scholar of Marxism, popular culture, and social movements currently teaching at California State University, Fullerton.