NYC: August 2004 Archives

I'm pleasantly surprised by the New York Magazine weblog's coverage of the RNC protests.

Here is their coverage of Reverend Billy's First Amendment protest at the PATH station at the WTC site. I wasn't there, but I found the description quite moving.

6:31 - Inside the station everything seems normal enough. Passengers walk the long cement floor toward the escalator. Some seem to drift, mumbling into cell phones, reciting the first amendment.


6:41 - Reverend Billy enters the station carrying a bullhorn, wearing a white collar, black shirt, a creme colored suit, and sporting an Eric Estrada haircut.

6:42 - The people on the phones grow louder. "Congress shall make no law..."


6:52 - A young couple walks arm-in-arm reciting the first amendment.

Count: Four reading from books, thirty speaking into cell phones.

6:58 - Synchonization:
Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion , or prohibiting the free excercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble; and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Their voices fill this loaded chamber.

7:03 - Circle forms. Reverend becomes clear leader of the group. Bringing the chants to a whisper, then louder, and finally, "Really enjoy it this time!"

7:10 - The choir starts above the site. "George Bush does not return to ground zero," they sing in golden robes accompanied by a woman playing a small saxophone.

7:12 - The police approach the choir, then walk away.

7:15 - The Reverend speaks. "Take the first amendment anywhere. Take it on the subway. Remember the first amendment is a prayer. Send it to our friends in Rikers. Give them strength."

Wow. We're not going to be able to afford anything but cops in NYC after this week. There are 3-6 cops per block on 9th Avenue from 14th to 23rd Streets, and at least 10 per block on 7th and 8th Avenues in the same area.

Big (and I mean that in several ways) presence of NYPD "guarding" Billy's Bakery on 9th Avenue and the Maritime Hotel. Maybe they're looking for some Upper East Side hotties.

Orange cones everywhere. The "Free Speech Zone" running north on 8th Avenue above 23rd Street is empty, and you have to get permission to even enter the sidewalks in that area. We're also seeing cops in plain clothes riding scooters around. It's hard to tell the non-badged thugs from the thugs, since they aren't showing badges.

We have less freedom of movement at the moment than we did downtown in the days after 9/11. See our photos from then for proof.

From Newsday:

Newsday photographer Moises Saman - who spent eight days in an Iraqi prison in 2003 - was taken into police custody yesterday in Times Square while covering a protest related to the Republican convention.

"I was photographing a guy getting arrested and somebody grabbed me from the back with a lot of force and made me fly backwards," said the award-wining photographer, who was at 45th Street and Seventh Avenue at about 5 p.m. when the incident occurred.

"I turned around and it was a police officer in a white shirt," Saman said. "He just said something like, 'You're arrested ... I told you to move.' But he [had] never said anything to me."

Spencer Platt, a staff photographer for Getty Images, who was on the scene, said police had started to arrest some quasi-anarchists on the street corners when officers got rough with Saman and others.

"There were about 10 photographers photographing what I think was an arrest," said Platt. "A cop just walked up, arbitrarily grabbed Moises by his shoulders and just threw him backwards. ... Moises was on the ground, dazed and shocked. We're all yelling, 'What are you doing?' and he picked him up off the street and arrested him. I've never seen anything like it."

Saman, 30, said police handcuffed him and put him in a van with about 10 protesters, took a Polaroid photograph of him, and drove him to the West Side pier, where a temporary processing center has been set up.

"By that time, they already knew about me and they took me aside from the rest of the protesters," Saman said. "They told me they were going to let me go."

Police later said several photographers were taken into custody when protesters blocking the sidewalk were arrested. After officials realized the photographers were members of the media, police said, they were released and no charges were pressed.

Saman said it took about two hours before he was released. An officer then escorted him to the West Side Highway, where he hailed a cab and returned to Times Square to continue work.

The Newsday photographer, along with Newsday reporter Matthew McAllester, was held by Saddam Hussein's security agents at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in March 2003 as U.S. trooped pressed into Baghdad.


I only took one, as I was generally holding the sign which said on one side:


and on the other


James has a post and a lot more photos.

I'm listening to right now. The police have cleared the Times Square area of all pedestrians so that the delegates leaving their Broadway shows won't have to see any protesters.


We got home OK. We were near the end of the march, so we started around 11:30-12 at Christopher and 7th Ave and finished at Union Square around 5:30. Tired.

Gothamist Gazette has a group blog covering the invasion/convention, with the writers including our friend Jon Winkleman.

Here are more photos of our march across the Brooklyn Bridge today.

Here is the post James did, with a link to his gallery of photos.


From NY1 - there's a video too.

The police waited 15 minutes before arresting them. Interesting.

A dozen AIDS activists were arrested outside Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon after they stripped off their clothes and blocked traffic.

The men and women, members of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) said they staged the demonstration in front of the site of next week’s Republican National Convention in order to protest the Bush administration’s policies on AIDS.

“This protest is to tell the naked truth to President Bush and the Republican Party,” said ACT UP member Robert Dabney, who kept his clothes on to talk to reporters. “Our protestors are demanding number one that the president support full debt cancellation for the poorest nations in the world.”

The protestors were standing naked in the street for almost 15 minutes before police put them in handcuffs. Traffic, already slowed by sporadic closures in the area for security preparations, stood at a standstill in the meantime.

ACT UPers were also involved in the anti-Bush banner released in Grand Central last week.

Another cool protest today: a banner outside the Plaza Hotel.


I grabbed that image from the local NBC affiliate, which seems to have some good coverage of both protests.

Also, a new Quinnipiac poll says 71% of New Yorkers think protesters should be allowed to use Central Park during the convention. 68 percent approve of nonviolent civil disobedience!


House Speaker Dennis Hastert at Ground Zero in '01 with Rudy Giuliani and Gov. Pataki.

Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House and chairman of the Republican National Convention, says in a new book that New York politicians were guilty of an "unseemly scramble" for cash after 9/11.

David Sirota has more.

Gothamist has become so damn annoying (e.g. this) that I'm hoping Sean's NYC.Metroblogging site can become the NYC-oriented site we can all rely upon.

I love this story. I heard about it on the radio yesterday.

Bright blue tarps, painted with glaring yellow letters, are going up on dozens of rooftops in Brooklyn, under the flight paths into busy New York airports. Thousands of delegates and convention guests peering down at the city might see messages like "No more years" and "Re-defeat Bush."

"We just hope that they'll look down and ask themselves, 'Why, why do they feel so strongly? Why is it that New York feels this way?'" said Genevieve Christy, who has painted more than 80 banners since thinking of the idea a few weeks ago.

The movement is so popular in her neighborhood that Christy, a 57-year-old consultant, is putting orders on a waiting list. She even brought supplies with her on vacation so she could keep working.

The NYC police and firefighters don't have to worry about barricades, or someone telling them when and where they are allowed to protest.

From today's New York Times:

And in recent weeks, the mayor has been drawn into another protest battle, with firefighters and police officers who have trailed him at his public events, holding loud and sometimes raucous demonstrations. Last week, they even gathered outside his home at 1 a.m., clearly violating the city's noise code by yelling loudly and at length.

During at least two other protests, police officers and firefighters moved freely without barricades, at times blocking traffic in the street. A group of police officers and firefighters also swarmed the mayor outside a community meeting, forcing his detail to hustle him into his S.U.V., which was momentarily blocked before it pulled out.

No firefighters or police officers were arrested at any of these events. By contrast, during that same time, four women were arrested after trying to hang an antiwar banner from a hotel window in Midtown, and four other protesters who erected a tent near the south end of Central Park to protest Bush administration economic policies were arrested and detained for hours. The Police Department said that police officers and firefighters had not been given any special treatment.

The city has been signaling that it will deal with convention protesters forcefully, permit or no permit.

This page is an archive of entries in the NYC category from August 2004.

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