Supergroup Prophets of Rage – comprised of Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford, Tom Morello, and Brad Wilk, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and DJ Lord, and Cypress Hill’s B-Real – came together because of the “mountain of election year bullshit.” That’s why the group, which described itself as more of an “elite task force of revolutionary musicians” in an interview with Rolling Stone, knew they needed to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. “We felt like a message had been lost for the people for so long,” B-Real told Remezcla. “There hasn’t been music to speak to the culture of our situation now, so we felt we would take it upon ourselves to ignite that and to spark that again, spark that conversation, spark that feeling, get people back into the awareness of what’s going on.”
Prophets of Rage kicked off their RNC activism at the End Poverty Now! March for Economic Social Justice Rally. Things kicked off at 1 p.m. in sweltering 80-degree weather with duo Rebel Diaz‘s performance. More than 1,000 people showed up to the event that aimed to bring attention to racial and economic inequality, as well as the policies that have paved the way for this imbalance. The rally, which took place in a park near Superior Avenue and East 45th Street, happened at around the same time that the RNC started in downtown Cleveland.
For a few hours, speakers and performers took turns addressing the crowd. According to The Chronicle, speeches ranged from those who want a political revolution to others who wish to work within the system to change social issues. For Rebel Diaz, the event marked an opportunity to bring its message of liberation through hip-hop. “It’s a historic moment of oppression, so we have to respond with historic moments of resistance,” RodStarz told us. “America has become a reality show gone wrong. What many thought was a joke in Donald Trump has become a possibility. Trump and the Republicans want America to be white again. So it’s important to stand up against that mentality of hatred.”
RodStarz added that things can’t stop at just protesting, and pointing to President Barack Obama’s deportation record, he said people need to question the Democratic party as much as Republicans. “We need to be building solidarity and revolutionary coalitions with other marginalized communities,” he said. “We should be connecting with the #BlackLivesMatter protests [because] we are black, too.”
Prophets of Rage bookended the performances, and before the group’s last song, Morello took to the mic. “Hello Cleveland,” he said. “Thank you for coming out today with your joy and your militancy. As soon as this next song is over, we, Prophets of Rage, and you are going to march for the End Poverty Now! march… And we’re going to let those motherfuckers at the RNC know that we’ve had enough of their bullshit.”
And the six-member group made their way down the streets, with protesters like 15-year-old María Rodriguez who attended with Lorain Ohio Immigrants’ Rights Association, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Check out images and videos from the rally below:
Additional reporting by Vanessa Erazo.