The Rolling Rebellion is now halfway through its one-week debut and has a lot to show for it. From coast to coast, grassroots activists have taken their creative zeal to the streets in a myriad of ways promoting peaceful and artful activism in the name of real democracy.
On July 1, activists in Washington, D.C., staged a musical theater performance outside the Federal Communications Commission, entitled “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” In the name of Net Neutrality, protestors sang, danced and enacted a game of tug-o-war between the people and the telecom giants. Rally-goers even performed a rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
In San Diego, the aptly named Artful Activists have used graphic and theatrical means to engage and interact with citizens at various locations, from the Civic Center to La Jolla Cove. “It’s street theater,” Brain Frazier explains. “We have a dunk tank and we get people in the crowd to pick blocks that have different grievances and throw those blocks to ‘flush’ the politician.”
Choosing a different location for each day of the weeklong rebellion, the San Diego Artful Activists offer various San Diego backdrops for the same message: Get money out of politics. Through creative and interactive installations, these SoCal activists are entertaining their crowds while engaging them.
Over in Dallas, this concept of engagement through entertainment went right to the doors of the Cotton Bowl, where on the Fourth of July, thousands of people streamed from the stadium into a light brigade that boldly and graphically displayed the message “ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY” as fireworks and songs of freedom blared in the background. A day earlier, the same coalition – composed of the North Texas Light Brigade, Codepink Greater Dallas and Veterans for Peace – stood spelling out this message in Coppell, Texas.
“After the fireworks display was over, they set up their message along the street where everyone had to either walk or drive to leave the area. They talked with many passers-by and passed out hundreds of flyers about getting the money out of politics,” said local activists Linda Cooke and Leslie Harris.
Meanwhile, out west in Seattle, activists from WAmend organized a procession and picnic to commemorate their accomplishments raising awareness about the need to rid corporate money from the electoral process. As stated on the group’s event page, their Sunday action consisted of a short procession and theater showcase of puppets, props and costumes, all working to highlight the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Participants also busted out a chorus of “We Will Rock You,” like their activist counterparts in D.C. “This was the scene at Greenlake Park,” activist and photographer Christopher King wrote, “where the Rolling Rebellion served notice that it will continue to fight against the corporate octopus that has its poisoned tentacles in every specter of our society.”
In Bellingham, Wash., the action took on a more somber tone, memorializing the 47 people who lost their lives when a Bakken oil train derailed in downtown LacMegantic, Quebec, last year. Activists spoke out against oil transport trains, hung banners and held up 47 figures to represent each victim. The local chapter of 350.org, 350 Bellingham, organized the event to raise awareness about oil blast zones and to speak out against the increasing shipments of oil by rail.
To the south, in Taos, New Mexico, Rolling Rebellion activists from Love-In-Action and CODEPINK Taos put together a Fourth of July float in honor of “activists, whistleblowers, muckrakers and unsung heroes.” The display featured five giant puppets of Rosa Parks, Sadako Sasaki, Amy Goodman, Dolores Huerta and Winona LaDuke.
The procession also included informational fliers that were handed out to the crowd, large banners, signs and over 70 prayer flag banners showcasing the names of activists who work for social change. To the surprise of artists and activists, their “Unsung Heroes” float won Most Patriotic Float by the Arroyo Seco Merchants Association.
Adding a satirical spin to patriotism, activists in Venice Beach, Calif., created a “Stop Wars” display and theatrical procession for the July 4th parade. “The chance of a looming new war in Iraq was the perfect setup,” explains an activist who called himself Bohrnagin Ferthheluvitt. “Fight the Empire. Destroy the Debt Start. Long live the Rebellion.”
This Venice Rebellion consisted of 40 to 50 members from Occupy Venice, the Topanga Peace Alliance, Occupy LA and Veterans for Peace. Making their way through Santa Monica and all the way down to the Venice Boardwalk, the Rebel Alliance “blasted the Imperial March and hosted impromptu Stop Wars dance parties every other block,” making use of street theater and “rebel antics” against the backdrop of their Deathstar float, adds Ferthheluvitt.
“We had a few hundred handouts highlighting the threat from the dark side – corporatism, capitalism, warmongering and environmental destruction – and on the other side, the solutions. Namely, why it’s crucial to look past parades and give a shit. People really seemed to take to it. Lots of slack jaws and wide eyes.”
With the rolling momentum generated thus far, events scheduled for this week have plenty of energy to pull from.
In San Diego, the Artful Activists will continue to demonstrate every day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Sunday. On Wednesday, the group will head to Poway Community Park; on Thursday to the Monsanto corporate building; on Friday to Belmont Park; and on Saturday they’ll return to Balboa Park.
In New York City, activists will host a Wall Street theater performance on Saturday, July 12, at 1 p.m. As stated on the Rolling Rebellion action page, “We will be performing a street theater piece on Wall Street, starring a giant Monopoly Man puppet and his minions, representing the industries that put the most money in politics…. [They] will process down Wall Street to a feast – only to be met and challenged by We The People!”
On Saturday, July 12, at 10 a.m. in Lexington, Kentucky, the local Move to Amend chapter will march from Henry Clay’s Estate to Mary Todd’s Estate, demanding an end to the corporate purchase of the political process. The group “will form an artful procession of ‘We The People’ tapping into America’s revolutionary spirit and declaring our independence from corporate rule!”
Denver will host an evening action on July 12 at 6 p.m., as the Colorado Light Brigade stages a “fun, powerful piece of street theater at the Colorado State Capitol,” complete with prop torches and pitchforks.
Los Angeles will also host an evening event on Friday, July 11, at the underground art venue in the downtown arts district. Co-hosted by Occupy Venice, the event will include performances by rock band Rooftop Revolutionaries, comedian Lee Camp, the Revolutionary Poet’s Brigade, live painter Unyenz and other activist speakers. Rolling Rebellion participants around the country can tune in to watch the show live on this channel. Showtime is 8 p.m.