Through similar efforts, grassroots organizations have managed to stop 59 coal-fired power plants in 2007 by persuading courts not to grant permits for the plants. This is one of many steps to contest the environmental degradation taking place.
"I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience," said Al Gore, calling for people to rise up against the construction of new coal plants, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in March.
Gore's call to action has prompted many activists to battle corporations and self-interested government. "The current economic and political systems are out of whack with human and democratic values," Kelly said. "The system is exposing itself." According to many, the system is shifting dangerously close to totalitarianism.
There's even been a resurgence of the old Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program), an FBI-run spying and political sabotage program that was responsible for the arrests of 13 Black Panthers in 1973 in connection with the 1971 murder of a San Francisco police officer. The men were subjected to torture techniques similar to those used at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
The 13 Panthers were acquitted for lack of evidence and the case was closed. However, in 2005, with the help of the USA Patriot Act, the case was reopened and eight of the Panthers were re-arrested. John Bowman, one of the detained, announced to the press, "The same people who tried to kill me in 1973 are the same people who are here today trying to destroy me." Former Panther Richard Brown warned audiences at the Great Rehearsal that the Patriot Act has given the government the ability to profile any ethnic group or organization, past and present, as terrorists.
"The Patriot Act was passed in the name of protecting us and our democracy. But it limits us," Cronan said. Groups like New SDS have incorporated working against the Patriot Act through their antiwar work, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has consistently battled against the act.
Even the Communists are back. Earlier this month, the Revolutionary Communist Party held a demonstration in San Francisco, telling the small crowd, "The world today cries out for radical, fundamental change."
Many radical groups see opportunity in the current moment. Grubacic told us that, "The future belongs to the ones creating it in the present." *
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