SDS Call to Action: Endorse and Participate in Shutting Down the RNC

Over the past year, organizing against the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC)–which will take place from September 1 through 4 in St. Paul–has grown at a considerable pace. At our 2007 national convention, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) passed a proposal endorsing the work of groups organizing against the RNC and encouraging folks within SDS to organize against both the RNC and the DNC.

Since that time, ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) has grown increasingly excited about the prospect of achieving a significant victory at the RNC and thereby giving our movement a much needed influx of new energy, tactics, and experiences. Across the country, groups have been talking–and talking seriously–about shutting down the RNC via one of the largest direct action protests in years. The RNC is shaping up to be an event that we won’t want to miss.

For SDS, the call to shutdown the RNC offers a tremendous opportunity to plug into what will likely be a major mobilization. Under the direct action strategy being discussed, SDS chapters can participate in this shutdown by selecting and utilizing the tactics with which they are most comfortable. The direct action framework will allow SDS chapters to work with those engaging in similar tactics, both within and outside SDS. Finally, chapters are free to theme their actions how they see fit and there could conceivably be SDS actions highlighting everything from the occupation of Iraq to the rising cost of tuition. Regardless of the themes and tactics chosen, imagine the excitement that we would all feel if SDS held down a few intersections and played a key role in shutting down the RNC…

To that end, we are calling on SDS chapters to both endorse and participate in a three-tiered system for disrupting the RNC on its opening day. At a gathering of over 100 anti-authoritarians from around the country in August of 2007 (facilitated by the Twin Cities based RNC Welcoming Committee), the following direct action strategy was adopted to shut down the RNC:

“Tier 1: Blockade the Xcel Center – Establish 15-20 blockades utilizing a diversity of tactics, creating inner and outer rings around St. Paul’s Xcel Center.

Tier 2: Immobilize Delegates’ Transportation – Immobilize the delegates’ transportation infrastructure, including buses, bus depots, etc.

Tier 3: Block Connecting Bridges – Block the five western bridges connecting the cities.

Those plugging into this strategy will be free to shape their actions as they see fit, using the tactics they consider appropriate. As the specific blockade sites are established, some sites may be designated “red zones” (prepared for self-defense), “yellow zones” (peaceful but assertive), and “green zones” (no risk of arrest) so as to accommodate a wide variety of creative tactics. The RNC Welcoming Committee is currently considering these zones and laying out specific blockade sites. Once these details are finalized they will be made public, and locals will be available to provide specific information and pictures of intersections, bridges, and other relevant locations to people that would like them.”

We are calling on SDS chapters to endorse this strategy and to begin planning how they will fit into this strategy–if they chose to participate–by familiarizing themselves with the Twin Cities and building their skill set by hosting direct action trainings, skill shares, and thinking strategically about how their chapter can be involved in shutting down the RNC.

Finally, we are encouraging SDS chapters to act in solidarity with calls put forth by the RNC Welcoming Committee and Unconventional Action by undertaking actions in the lead-up to the convention against the electoral process, the RNC/DNC, and individual candidates. These actions should be used to build the skills, relationships, and solidarity that will allow our movement to both successfully shutdown the RNC and grow beyond the RNC protests.

To endorse the direct action strategy, please send an email to

To endorse this call to action, please send an email to

For more on organizing against the RNC, visit:

Finally, an updated list of endorsers will be available at:

With a New World in our Hearts,
– ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids, MI SDS) –
– Animas SDS (Durango, CO)
– Chicago SDS (Chicago, IL)
– Drew SDS (Madison, NJ)
– Ignite SDS (Lansing, MI)
– THS SDS (Tuscarora High School, Frederick, MD)


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