Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Rally to Remember - from "END THE FED" to "Phreedom 2012!"

I honestly hate reading posts this long, and here I am writing one. I tried to consolidate it, but this is the best I could do. Hope you finish it, let alone enjoy it.

On occasion I'm asked about what I do as an activist, and most times I react like a deer in headlights because I honestly don't know where to start. I've worked on projects in the political realm, the not so political realm, prepping and survivalism, philosophy, resistance, nullification, working within the system, outside the system, art, music, and I've even stood out on the street for hours giving out free hugs to passersby. I'll save what brought me into "activism" for another post, however, this one is specifically about the END THE FED portion of my resume, and where that has taken me.

A few friends and I have been hosting liberty related events in Philly for the past 4 years. Documentary screenings, street outreaches, tabling at gun shows, networking socials, etc. Our biggest claim to fame has been END THE FED rallies.

My first rally, ever.

In November 2008, END THE FED rallies were planned for major cities across the country. The Philly rally started at City Hall, hundreds marched through the city and ended at the Federal Reserve Bank's gate. After the march, a meeting was held indoors with speakers at the Independence Visitors Center. Keep in mind, I've never been to anything like this before, and was honestly afraid to come to a "protest" after seeing hundreds of people arrested on countless YouTube videos. It helps to force yourself out of your shell because the rally was amazing. The people were incredible, smart, well versed, and were fun to be around. No one got arrested, and as a matter of fact, the cops at the march were just as cool as the attendees. So when the organizer mentioned planning another rally in the spring of 2009, I ran to the front of the room to volunteer.

At our first planning session, we decided to make the next one more than just a rally. We saw it as an opportunity to teach. We held a march from City Hall to the FED again, then rented out the National Constitution Center, showed a 25 minute documentary, followed by solution oriented speeches by noted group leaders in the movement.

The flood of positive feedback was approaching overwhelming, and as any provider of any service would do, we answered the most common response, "you have to do this again, when's the next one?!?"

Considering that these events are organized and executed by people who have full time careers, families, and who attempt to squeeze in the occasional hobby, events this big can only happen so often. We decided twice a year works for us, since monthly events this size are impossible to manage without making this a full time career. Seems to work for the crowds too because annual events tend to get forgotten about, and monthly events tend to be taken for granted.

We announced to the world that our next END THE FED rally would be in November 2009. Again we started our march at City Hall, and ended at the Federal Reserve's front door. You would think by now they would get the message and just close up shop already, but apparently they're just as stubborn as I am.

Great turnout, our friend and congressional candidate, Jake Towne gave one of the most passionate fiery speeches I've ever seen, Mark Passio lit a fire under everyone in attendance, and Rob Pepe shared a few thoughts in his typical, well crafted, straight to the point manner. We moved to our indoor symposium at the Independence Mall Visitors Center, to hear Dr Liberty, Jacob Hornberger, and Larken Rose fire off powerful deliveries of how to kick this monster of a central bank off our backs. Yet again, "when is the next one?!" echoed throughout the exit doors.

Fast forward to April 2010.

Everything we've done so far has gotten incredible feedback, but to me it was getting stale, and wasn't going far enough. No one else felt that way, at least they never told me, but that's how I felt. We tend to be our own worst critics at times. Probably like everyone else in history, I wrestled with the question, "how do you make an economics rally exciting?" It has to be fun, it has to be attractive, it has to be sexy.

I give you, FEDSTOCK.

Rob gets a call from me one night around midnight,
"Let's throw a concert! Call that Jordan Page guy, see if he'll perform."

Rob called me back a few days later, "Jordan's in, he wants to do it!"
"Fantastic, let's go to work brother!"

Again we began our rally at City Hall, stormed the streets and landed at the FED (still stubbornly in business despite our efforts) then walked across the street to FEDSTOCK! Jordan Page, Ampkilla, Heistclick, The Almighty Terribles, and Aimee Allen all showed up to give a free concert on the lawn at Independence Mall.

As the day progressed, I met most of our attendees only to be completely humbled to find that some of them were from way out of town, Baltimore, DC, NYC. Wow this thing is taking off. Everyone loved it, and asked the same undying question, "when are you doing this again!?!?" November.

Remember, remember, sometime this November.

Rob got another late night phone call from me in September,
"Whadda ya know?"
"We gotta go bigger."
"What are you thinking?"
"Let's get Jordan up on a trailer and have a mobile rock show lead the march like a parade!"
"I'm with ya, I'm in it to win it!"

We called Jordan, who ended up becoming my long lost BFF (yea i said it), filled him in, he was all for it. Two weeks later Rob's phone rings again in the middle of the night,
"Whadda ya know?"
"Let's start the rally AT the FED, turn our backs on it, and march away from it to send a metaphor that they can go (insert whatever you think I may have said here) themselves and that we the people don't need them anymore."
"I'm with ya, I'm in it to win it!"

This time we meet at the FED, Jordan is up on the float pouring his heart into his music, the crowd went bananas. We also added the element of educating the public about central banking, so we made up almost 5,000 fliers with a few bullet points about the FED, with links to websites to learn more. We ran out of fliers halfway through our march route. After the march we rented out a bar for our afterparty and it became yet another event for the books.

Now there's an expectation, every April and November, there will be a mold breaking event in Philadelphia centered around raising awareness about where our currency comes from. Now people weren't saying "when's the next one," they were saying, "see you in April!"


This was probably my favorite one so far. Not that I didn't love the rest, but this one was special. It rained for a bit that day in April 2011, so on the way down to the event, I bought a 10x10 canopy tent to keep Jordan and the equipment dry. Supporters didn't care about the rain, we were there for a purpose, to abolish the stubborn bank, and to party.

We started our march at the FED again, plowed through the city with the parade float in the lead, handed out 1,000's of fliers, and finished up again at the rented out bar. We had t-shirts made up to help recoup some of our expenses. It was beyond memorable.

One thing that hit me the hardest was someone made a dozen fitted hats with "END THE FED, END THE WARS, FEDSTOCK II" embroidered on them. I didn't ask for that, but was beyond humbled to see something we put together meant that much to someone that they made these hats for us. The whole day was absolutely amazing. What's next?

November 2011.

This time around, we the organizers had too much happening personally to keep this thing going, and it almost didn't happen. However, there was way too much momentum to let it go. Most of our activists friends and TFP members were heavily involved at Occupy Philly, which is an entire story on its own. Let's just say for now, the gist of their involvement was to keep the conversation of individual sovereignty on the table in the occupy movement.

One of the points was to show the connection between Wall St and the Federal Reserve System. What better way to help reinforce that message than to literally bring an END THE FED army down to TFP's  24/7 set up? Yea I couldn't think of a better way either.

Since this rally was relatively slapped together at the last minute, the only plan was to have a small to midsize march from the FED to the Occupy site at City Hall. No float, no parade, no music, just a bare bones, good old fashioned march. Until my phone rang 3 nights before the rally. My friend Keith Smith has a friend who not only happens to have an army personnel carrier, but also shares our disdain for the Federal Reserve System. Keith gave his friend my number and here's the gist of the conversation,

"So I have an army truck, would it be ok if I put 10 foot END THE FED banners on either side and bring it to the rally?"
"Can you hold on for a second? (14 backflips later) Yea I think that should be ok....ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!? YES BRING IT DOWN, YOU'RE GONNA LEAD THE MARCH!!!"

This time we had just under 100 attendees, so while it was one of our more intimate END THE FED rallies, the army truck, the gaps bridged with the occupy camp that day, and the dedication from the crowd made it one of the most memorable.

After cleaning up some things in our personal lives, we were able to regroup and start talking about April 2012. Pushing the envelope as usual, we decided to go all in for this rally. We were ready to ask ourselves what we needed to do to make this the spectacle it needs to be. We all had the same answer. We had to find a way to have Ron Paul as a headline speaker.

Just about everything we do is to promote the message of liberty. Our battleground is in the hearts and minds of every individual. One place I will agree wholeheartedly with Alex Jones is that this is an information war. I would love to see Ron Paul in the oval office, but this effort pushed by a tireless group around the world is not about one man's ability to fix things with a magic wand, it's about restoring the notion of self-ownership, it's about eroding faith in the idea of hierarchy and authority.

That being said, I've yet to see anyone but Dr. Paul deliver a message in a such clear cut fashion that reaches a crowd more diverse than a Wu Tang Clan concert. Therefore, we walked a fine line for months doing our best to structure this event in such a way that when we pitched the idea to the campaign, they would have no choice but to say yes. We made them an offer they couldn't refuse, and I didn't even have to call my Italian uncles for back up.

We pulled out all the stops and decided to go all in this time around. Not losing sight of the importance of the END THE FED rally, we wanted to add a larger element to the day. So we passed the END THE FED baton to our eager brothers and sisters in the movement, to allow us to focus on our next project.

Phreedom 2012.

On Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 1:00, we set the stage with Independence Hall as the backdrop, the Liberty Bell 50 feet away, live music by Jordan Page and Tatiana Moroz, and special guest speakers James Padilioni Jr of Students for Liberty, Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit (yea, don't ask me how I pulled that one off, but I did), and yes ladies and gentlemen, presidential candidate and congressman Dr. Ron Paul!

In 2007, there was a Philly rally for Ron Paul with over 5,000 people in attendance. Now if you don't know, Philly is only a few hours from NYC, DC, and every other major city on the east coast.

Philly has what's known as "The Big 5" schools:
-University of Pennsylvania
-La Salle University
-Saint Joseph's University
-Temple University
-Villanova University

Plus Drexel Univeristy, and countless other schools within an hour from here. If you haven't heard, which if you watch the news then you probably haven't heard, but in the past month, Ron Paul has been drawing huge crowds everywhere he speaks.

University of Kansas, 2,000
University of Wisconson, 5,200
UCLA 10,000
Chico, CA, 6,200
UC Berkeley 8,200

There is NO reason we should have less than 10,000 people with us in Philly at Phreedom 2012! 25,000 sounds a lot better though.

There's an END THE FED march prior to the event, a motorcycle run in the works, a rogue army truck covered in Ron Paul banners coming, THIS IS GOING TO BE THE EVENT OF THE YEAR, GUARANTEED!

The responses I've gotten so far are beyond overwhelming, humbling, and just amazing. I've gotten emails and calls from people from everywhere saying they're coming, NY, Boston, South Carolina, Chicago, Central PA (believe me, central PA is its own world, so that's impressive), Pittsburgh, even Los Angeles!

I know on the surface it's all for Dr. Paul, but it's really about the future of our liberty. Of everything going on in this crazy ride we call life in 2012, to see the response to what this event represents truly gives me a brighter outlook on things to come.

People are organizing bus trips out here! I'm in shock! I can't begin to express how lucky I feel to be along for this ride with everyone.

Whatever sacrifice you make to get here, I promise it will be more than worth it! Sure you can hear what Ron has to say by sitting on YouTube for 6 hours, but to physically be here in what some call the cradle of liberty, in front of Independence Hall, with the head of the CIA bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, solidifying Ron Paul's take on foreign policy, live music, a DJ, and standing with double-digit thousands of freedom lovers around you, you can't put a price on that...which is why we didn't!!!! It's free, it's outdoors, and it's all for you! Join us and SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!!


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1 comment:

  1. Mike---you have a lot to be proud of. I loved reading every word you wrote. These are great times to be alive. I feel the spirit of the men and women who fought for Liberty over 200 years ago behind this movement. April 22, 2012 will be historic, nay, EPIC. I am so thrilled to be partaking in this event. Thank you for your tireless efforts.
    Love and Liberty and Peace to all...