Thursday, February 27, 2003

Interesting story form an insider at the February 15 anti-war rally in New York City. Alan who runs the Rock Against Racism sound system and a company called Metrosound put in a bid to do the sound for the anti-war rally. He is a close associate of Leslie Cagan and has done the sound for countless events organized by Cagan. Alan also does the sound for the annual Cures Not Wars marijuana legalization rally on the first weekend in May each year and he runs the sound for the club Monster on Sheridan Square in the Village.

After approaching Cagan about doing the February 15th demo in Manhattan he was put in touch with Valerie an associate of the group International A.N.S.W.E.R., one of the rally's chief organizers. A.N.S.W.E.R. is also closely related to a socialist group called Workers World Party. Immediately there began intense haggling over the price of providing the massive sound reinforcement system, a problem he had never experienced before with a Leslie Cagan organized event. But eventually the arguing centered on control of the main stage. Valerie insisted that a separate company she had chosen run he stage. As a sound engineer Alan didn't care about who managed the stage since to him that's the most minor and easiest to run part of a rally. But it was obvious that the control over who could or could not speak was the paramount concern of the organizers.

Finally Alan agreed on a price. But at the last minute a new production company, actually a Bronx based group not known for its political involvement was chosen over the Rock Against racism system. Alan says that the main difference between his company and the one chosen by the rally organizers is that he uses union contractors to do those parts of the job that must by law be done by union workers. The group chosen by the Cagan folks is strictly non-union and therefore can underbid a company that uses unionized workers.

In another conversation a veteran activist close to the group International A.N.S.W.E.R. informs us that there has been a lot of behind the scenes dissent at A.N.S.W.E.R. meetings over how the large sums of donated monies are being used. This witness claims that a recent $40,000 contribution to A.N.S.W.E.R. was diverted to the Worker World Party. She says many New York activists are upset that funds donated for work in New York are not finding their way to projects sponsored by grassroots people and that the money is going to a different group then the one that received the donation.

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