The politically oriented Pittsburgh punk band Anti-Flag, and Tom Morello, the innovative former guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, have chosen Denver to kick off a tour in protest of a global trade agreement backed by President Barack Obama.
At issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among some countries that corner the Pacific Ocean geared toward reducing trade barriers among them.
The national tour, called Rock Against the TPP, is billed as a “concert tour to stop the biggest corporate power grab in history.”
Actress Evangeline Lilly, from the TV show “Lost” and the films The Hobbit and Ant-Man, will also attend the free show on July 23 at Denver’s Summit Music Hall, along with Denver hip-hop artists Flobots.
Morello’s new label, Firebrand Records, is organizing the tour along with the digital rights group Fight for the Future, to bring awareness to the TPP. Those protesting the agreement argue that it has less to do with trade and more to do with granting greater power to multinational corporations at the expense of well-paying jobs and the environment, among other concerns.
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future’s campaign director, says they chose Denver to launch the tour because trade has been a major issue in the area and impacts Colorado’s large agricultural and technology sectors.
“I think we’re really trying to reach out to people across the political spectrum and of all ages,” Greer told The Colorado Independent, adding that organizers have also been working closely with state-based groups here, like local labor unions and the state chapter of the Sierra Club.
“We don’t have a big budget to run giant ads in all the papers, we’re doing this kind of old school,” Greer says. “It’s very much a grassroots effort even though we have some big names involved.”
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the presumed presidential nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, oppose the TPP deal, which still needs approval from Congress before it can go into effect.
In Colorado, the TPP has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race, but not between members of the two major parties.
Green Party candidate Arn Menconi, a former Eagle County commissioner, has railed against the TPP in his campaign, and he has criticized Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s vote on a measure to “fast track” negotiations for the deal and other global trade agreements. (Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator, Cory Gardner, also voted for the fast track, and he supports the deal.) In late May, members of the state’s largest labor union, the Colorado AFL-CIO, declined to endorse Bennet for re-election because of the TPP issue.
“The trade deal as a whole is very concerning for us,” Colorado AFL-CIO president Sam Gilchrist told The Colorado Independent at the time, adding that TPP should have had more public input.
The tour’s goal, Greer says, is to drag the TPP out from under a “shroud of secrecy” and galvanize a more public debate.
[Photo credit: SimonRahn via Creative Commons on Flickr]