Daily Archives: 2/16/2003

The Weekend of Public Opinion.

Went to the protests on Saturday. I took lots of pictures, but I won’t put them up yet b/c they’re old school film style pictures. I’ll have to get them developed, first.

The protests were fantastic! I met up with some friends at the public library where lots of feeder marches were staged, and we marched with thousands of people towards the official rally. The city wouldn’t give us a marching permit, just a permit for a rally, so the marchers were on sidewalks. Until we got near 49th, that is, because first avenue was so full we couldn’t get any closer than third. The streets started to fill up and traffic was halted. People were everywhere, and cars were swamped by thousands of marchers with signs, singing and dancing. It burns my britches that they could have given us a marching permit and then we wouldn’t have shut down the city. But either they didn’t think there would be so many people, or they didn’t want to look like they were “supporting us.”

The police were pretty cool until they realized that they were going to have to get in our way, and then they really divided the marchers up into little groups and dispersed us. They marched a police line down Third Avenue with their clubs held out in front of them to clear out the street, and then where people weren’t moving they stampeded the horses at crowds, and started arresting people. They wouldn’t let us go to First Avenue at all – I heard it was blocked from 42nd to 96th, and I believe it because when we got home we heard that the police had to officially shut it down up to 72nd.

It was a good time, there were drummers throughout the protests, and we had noisemakers left over from new years eve that we tooted (kazoos for peace!). There was an incredible Korean drum group who had set up on a sidewalk and was making some awesome noise. And I think it was all very positive, until the police started to clear the streets. The media was very mixed in reporting it, some places insisted on saying “thousands” while others said there were 100,000 at the rally, and “thousands marching around the city.” I think there was between 400,000 and 600,000 people there – organizers say 375,000, and the police say 100,000, but from what I saw on the news, and the aerial photographs, and knowing how the streets were closed, I lean to saying “greater than 400,000.”

So that’s the anti-war protests. It was fantastic. And while I’m mentioning war, why is it that when the country JOINS NYC on orange alert suddenly we have more ‘protection’ in the streets? If we’ve been at orange this whole time, than either we don’t get more people, or maybe we shouldn’t be at orange in the first place. Someone said to me that this terror stuff is just to scare the pants off of us and keep us from paying attention to other, more important things. Like war, and being stripped of our constitutional rights to express ourselves and meet in protest.