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The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel for three days, beginning today. It will feature a number of conservative speakers, from politicians (including three of the four presidential candidates) to columnists and conservative celebrities. Yet it may also “feature” something else as well: according to the Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markay, the “Occupy DC” offshoot of the OWS movement is planning to disrupt the meetings. How far will they go? “Speakers will be physically assaulted, not just verbally confronted,” a source told Heritage in an email.
Apparently the information was garnered by someone who attended a meeting of the Occupy DC group prior to their eviction from McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. last Saturday. In the midst of intermittent violence and heated exchanges, Park Police dispersed the crowd, confiscating a number of tents in the process. Occupiers were then prohibited from camping out there any longer. On Thursday, two days prior to their disbanding, the Occupiers were engaged in a strategy session regarding the use of tactics to disrupt, or even shut down, CPAC entirely.
What tactics? According to the source, who requested anonymity, protesters suggested pulling fire alarms in the hotel where the conference will take place, screaming “fire” during conference activities, “glitter-bombing” participants, cutting electrical power, and barricading entrances to the hotel. The source also identified members of the New Black Panther Party, who “said they would be disappointed if they didn’t get arrested and planned to ‘make it count,’” and another protester who warned that “Mitt [Romney] has Secret Service now, but [Newt] Gingrich and [Andrew] Breitbart don’t,” implying that the group might go after people they consider easier to confront–or perhaps assault.
Reportedly, most of their antics will take place on Saturday, the last day of the conference — because they don’t want to get in the way of unions who plan to protest on Thursday and Friday. “What do Wisconsin Governor SCOTT WALKER, presidential candidates MITT ROMNEY, NEWT GINGRICH, RICK SANTORUM and House Budget Committee Chair PAUL RYAN have in common?” asks the Washington, DC Metro Council of the AFL-CIO on its website. “They all represent the greed of the wealthy 1% and they’ll all be at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference. WE’VE HEARD ENOUGH FROM THE 1%! Join the rally featuring tents, an inflatable fat cat, puppets, ‘candidate Walmart,’ and more to LET THE VOICES OF THE 99% BE HEARD!”
The unions have scheduled two official protests at noon and 5 p.m. Friday. The 5 p.m. demonstration will coincide with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s speech. “It’s all in good fun, but with a very serious message in terms of representing the 99 percent,” said AFL-CIO organizer Chris Garlock. He also said he expects the protest to be “non-confrontational.”
Garlock has a short memory. In November, the very same Occupy D.C. protesters stormed a dinner held by Americans for Prosperity at Washington Convention Center. During that “non-confrontational” episode, Dolores Broderson, age 78, who had ridden 11 hours on a bus from Detroit to attend, was pushed down the stairs. She ended up in a hospital emergency room with a bloody nose and bruises on her hand and leg. There was also a “pre-planned assault on the Convention Center” as described by an eyewitness who claimed the mob was “hell-bent on shoving their way through the front doors.”
Joining the AFL-CIO will be a group called Change to Win (CTW), an SEIU-led federation that broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005. CTW staffer Trina Tocca has posted a notice of the protest on her Facebook page. Thus, two union groups will be joining Occupy D.C. in their efforts to disrupt the conference.
That the unions would align themselves with Occupy D.C. is disturbing. According to the Occupy D.C. website, the CPAC event is characterized as “another gathering of bigots, media mouthpieces, corrupt politicians, and their 1 percent elite puppet masters.” Its purpose is to “parade and attempt to perpetuate the radical right wing’s imperialist ideologies with keynote speakers, movies and banquets dedicated to pursuing its racist, sexist, patriarchal and exploitative agenda.”
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