Friday, September 03, 2004

Thanks... United For Peace & Justice for the discipline you demonstrated and the restraint of your events. Not only did you organize the largest of the protests (the Sunday march), but you kept it almost entirely peaceful. Not an easy task but you nonetheless succeeded in denying the Republican Party images of New York's streets in flames and chaos, images they were hoping for and counting on, images from which they would have extracted political capital like so much oil from the sands of the Persian Gulf. Or Texas. On Sunday, you exemplified the American Left at its best.

Of course, thanks also go to New York's Finest. To one side was respect for protestors' freedom of speech and assembly, to the other the interdiction of hooligans looking to start a riot from behind the sanction of free expression. Left with damn little room for error, you managed to blaze an entirely new trail between the two with few missteps along the way, showing those suckaz elsewhere calling themselves world-class cities just how we do it in tha 212.

Michael Slackman and Diane Cardwell, "Tactics by Police Mute the Protesters, and Their Messages", The New York Times, 2004 September 2.
[The title may tell one story, but the text itself tells another.]

Using large orange nets to divide and conquer, and a near-zero tolerance policy for activities that even suggest the prospect of disorder, the New York Police Department has developed what amounts to a pre-emptive strike policy, cutting off demonstrations before they grow large enough, loud enough, or unruly enough to affect the convention.

The demonstrations, too, have thus far been more restrained than many recent protests elsewhere; five years ago in Seattle, for example, there was widespread arson and window-smashing, none of which has occurred here. Lacking bloody scenes of billy-club-wielding police or billowing clouds of tear gas, the cameras - and the public's attention - have focused elsewhere.
[T]he Bush-Cheney campaign did not get the wild-eyed foil it had counted on, either....[S]everal Republicans had indicated that they hoped to blame the campaign of the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, for any destruction. So far, there has been little to pin on the Democrats.

"If the protesters do something outrageous, they benefit Bush; if they don't do something outrageous they don't get covered," said Kieran Mahoney, a Republican political consultant from New York. "They are the answer to the question, 'If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any noise?' "

In fact, the image that went nationwide, on television and in newspapers, was from Sunday, when United for Peace and Justice, a protest coalition, held a huge but orderly march that managed to cast a shadow over the opening day of the convention.
The police have had widespread praise from demonstrators and their legal advocates for showing restraint and flexibility in dealing with many protests, both those with and without permits.

On Sunday, before the gigantic march past the Garden, a police captain sent a group of officers to clear a traffic lane and escort a large group marching without a permit from Central Park to Union Square, where the day's main protest was to begin.

In another unscheduled march on Tuesday, the police allowed 10 protesters in a larger group to wear masks - technically a violation of the law - as part of a symbolic statement against the abuse of United States military prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

"The overarching issue with no permits is if you try to take a street or sidewalk, if you are marching and forcing pedestrians in the street, you are going to be arrested," said a senior police official, asking not to be identified. "When each of these things forms up, the commander can make a judgment - does it make sense for public safety to allow it to go forward rather than do battle?"

Those judgments appear to vary depending on which police official is in charge on the scene, giving protesters the sense that the rules are always shifting. In many cases, said Mr. Dunn, of the civil liberties union, "the protesters are trying to play by the rules and the police are not honoring their own agreements or are moving to arrest people who are engaging in seemingly lawful activity without any notice."

Last Friday, for example, after tension over police warnings to obey traffic laws, about 5,000 cyclists were allowed to block traffic and run red lights for more than an hour until the patience of police officers suddenly appeared to grow thin. Officers dragged netting across a West Village street to block the ride, arresting dozens there and then many more at its end in the East Village.
Can I get a f*** you to those A31 bitches? You show up to exploit a city that took a pretty nasty hit a couple years back, then go home to leave those of us who live here to clean up the mess. To my eyes there was little difference between the Kool Aid swilling conformist herds raising a racket inside Madison Square Garden and the Kool Aid swilling conformist herds raising a racket outside it.

And don't be getting no ideas, International Olympic Committee. Yes, the NYPD did a great job but, like the Republican National Convention, the Games would be another inconvenient hassle for NYC residents who enjoy how the city shifts into slower gears during the summer months. That, and awarding the Games to New York City would boost the impetus for the proposed West Side Stadium which we kitchenfolk would bear the brunt of. Compared to the mass exodus of drivers found paralyzing the Turnpike for miles around after a Giants game, Manhattan cabbies look like they ought to be rolling down their windows and asking each other for Grey Poupon. And heaven knows how much sports fans and concertgoers love to abstain from the alcohol. If you squint, they could almost pass for Mormons.

Oh, and Republicans? You know the rest of that $2 billion you promised us after September 11th so that we could be ready in case of another attack? Where is that, anyway?


What do you mean, You sent it to Montana?