WASHINGTON - Promising a pox on both political parties, an array of activists warned yesterday that they will take over the streets outside the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
"We've had enough," said Margaret Prescod, a leader of the R2D2K Coalition of protest groups. "Get ready for a democratic intervention on both coasts of the United States this summer."
The movement includes many of the anti-globalist militants who disrupted the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle and besieged the World Bank meetings in Washington this year.
At a news conference, they outlined plans for similar actions when the Republicans meet in Philadelphia from July 31 to Aug. 4 and when the Democrats convene in Los Angeles Aug. 14-18.
"It's time for a change," said Lisa Fithian, who wore a "Shut It Down" T-shirt from the Direct Action Network. "In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, we say, 'No more business as usual.'"
The organizers said both major parties are controlled by multinational corporate interests, and neither is accountable to poor and working people. While representing causes varying from labor unions to homeless mothers, they said they demand a political system "based on human need, and not on corporate greed."
The organizers predicted tens of thousands of activists will take part in demonstrations ranging from marches to street theater.
In Philadelphia, where the Republicans will nominate Gov. George W. Bush of Texas for president, poor people will camp out in a "Bushville" modeled after the "Hoovervilles" of the Great Depression.
Outside the Convention Center in Los Angeles, thousands of people will bang on drums, paint buckets, pots and pans during Vice President Al Gore's acceptance speech for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"We're going to take to the streets because they still belong to us," said John Hogan, a Philadelphia labor organizer and spokesman for the R2D2K Coalition.
However, law enforcement agencies have formed their own coalition to preserve order in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
The Secret Service and FBI have helped local and state police in planning security. In both cities, there will be buffer zones around the convention sites where demonstrations are banned. Police hope to confine protests to a designated and guarded area.