Taken from Spinner.com (Sep 11, 2007)
Michael Franti Reclaims 9/11 With Festival's Message -
by Benjy Eisen
When Michael Franti initially scheduled his now-annual free music festival on 9/11, he wasn't referencing the terrorist attacks of 2001. The year was 1999, and he chose the date as a pun on the emergency number 911. At the time, the event was intended to raise awareness of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death-row inmate accused of killing a police officer whom many feel is innocent (see also: Rage Against the Machine).
"With the attacks on Sept. 11, this festival took on new significance," Franti told Spinner. "We wanted it to be a day that was not only speaking against the death penalty in this country, but a day speaking out against the death penalty at the hands of the U.S. Military around the world."
The free event was renamed '911 Power to the Peaceful,' and has sinceexpanded to include a DJ tent, a kids' stage, yoga instruction, guest speakers and enough activist groups and anti-war booths to fill an entire White House lawn with petitions. This year's event, held at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park last weekend, featured spirited performances by Michael Franti and Spearhead, Indigo Girls, Bassnectar and DJ Spooky, among others. The message was clear and omnipresent among the 40,000 strong: Bush is one unpopular dude. But during the headlining set itself, Franti mobilized the audience by getting them to dance rather than by preaching to the choir.
"The best way to get to a point of co-existence is to be able to put down that 'right' and 'wrong' thing," Franti proclaimed. "Stop trying to convince other people that 'we're right' and 'they're wrong.'"