Prepared by Ivan for Why War?
From Saturday, Aug. 28 through Thursday, Sep. 2, 2004, a variety of events are scheduled in New York City, including a permitted march, a youth convergence, film screenings and art exhibits, a reading of the war dead, a poor people’s march and rally, flashmobs, and a “shout heard ’round the world.”
Thousands of bicyclists swarm in New York City against the Republican National Convention on Aug. 27, 2004. [enlarge]
Aug. 29: The weekend has seen the largest protest ever to occur outside an American political convention, the largest bicycle protest in New York’s history, and widespread, decentralized protests. And the Republicans just began arriving a few hours ago!
On Thursday, the NYPD arrested ten nude ACT-UP activists in front of Madison Square Garden. The six women and four men were chanting “Bush, Stop AIDS — Drop the Debt Now!” and had stenciled slogans on their bodies. They managed to hold their position for ten minutes before being taken away.
Earlier that day, the DNC2RNC march arrived from Boston after a 258-mile trip. After a stop at a community garden, the marchers merged with a Bike Bloc to take up to 20 blocks through downtown Manhattan.
The most well-publicized event on Friday, however, was the Critical Mass ride, a procession of more than 5,000 bicyclists who took to the streets held up to 45 blocks at a time and were riding for more than two hours. While there were only a few arrests during the course of the ride, when the cyclists arrived at St. Mark’s Church, dozens began to be arrested. A group was also arrested near the Lincoln Tunnel, putting the total over 250 arrestees.
On Saturday, a conference sponsored by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition attracted over 600 students and youth in a series of discussions and workshops aimed at developing a vision for the movement and getting the tools to organize for change.
On Sunday, the largest protest ever to occur outside of an American political convention occurred. At least half a million people attended the United for Peace and Justice-sponsored march past Madison Square Garden, where the RNC is being held. [photos, and some more] Major media suggested the Republican message had been effectively drowned out by the protesters, working to combat arguments that they might scare voters to Bush. Following the permitted march, a few thousand people spontaneously gathered in Central Park [photos] — where UfPJ had been denied a permit for a rally — to hold their own informal, celebratory events.
In the evening, many decentralized direct-action events [photos] took place as Republican delegates began to arrive. These included protests outside theatre and nightclub venues, a gathering of Billionaires for Bush, and a queer kiss-in. There were several rounds of arrests by the NYPD — I have been watching from the independent media space as police bus after police bus goes by toward the protests. At 9:00 p.m. the National Lawyers’ Guild had reported about 150 arrests for the entire day, 80 of which were from the evening’s protests in Times Square. Most disturbing were reports of the use of giant nets to incapacitate crowds of people before a mass-arrest took place. The NLG is also reporting that protesters who are arrested — including the Guild’s own legal observers — are being detained for long periods of time without cause.