On Monday, July 19, two Missoula-based collectives, Seeds of Peace and Montana Medics Collective, will travel to the East Coast to provide food and health care at the Democratic and Republican National Convention protests in Boston and New York—as well as supporting a scheduled 256-mile march between the two sites.
“We are taking a bus with all the kitchen equipment and all the medical equipment,” says Montana Medics Collective volunteer Erika Larsen.
The Montana Medics Collective provides emergency first-aid at various social justice rallies throughout the year, while Seeds of Peace, a food collective founded in 1986, travels the country with a mobile kitchen furnishing food and water to protesters at peace and environmental rallies.
Larsen says all Montana Medics volunteers have varying levels of medical training—some are herbalists, others nurses and midwives—and they’ve all received Street Medic Training, a three-day course specifically designed to train volunteers to respond to medical emergencies at rallies. Larsen herself is an Emergency Medical Technician and Wilderness First Responder.
At the protests, Larsen says, blisters and dehydration are the most common afflictions, yet she’s seen her share of tear gas and pepper spray injuries, and blunt trauma induced by police beatings.
The Montana Medics Collective is hardly the only one of its kind. Street medics at major demonstrations are organized by a handful of regional groups like Boston’s BALM Squad (Boston Area Liberation Medics), Portland’s Black Cross Health Collective and Colorado Street Medics, among others. These groups meet at the protests and work in collaborattion, Larsen says.
The Republican Convention in New York is expected to attract the most protesters, Larsen says, along with a large police presence. According to the website counterconvention.org, more than 140 groups from across the nation will gather to protest President Bush’s nomination.
Both Seeds of Peace and the Montana Medics Collective will hold a goodbye party from 5 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, at Northside Park.