ok, so the convention hasn't started yet, but the protests have. First let me say that I haven't talked to a single New Yoker who is happy about the Republicans coming. Quite the opposite. Several businesses have signs that say something about welcoming peaceful protesters. One hotel is welcoming republicans. Actually, probably many hotels, but not that many have posted signs. Bloomberg, NYC's venerable mayor has floated a proposal where out of town protesters can sign up on a special list with the police and in exchange, they get a peaceful protester sticker that they can use to get discounts at many Manhhttan buisinesses, such as Starbucks!. Wow! I was going to break their window, but now I think I'll just get a discounted crappiccino! The only drawback is that I have to give my name to the police. Shockingly, I have not seen anyone wearing these stickers.
Nicole arrived on Friday. She came in the JFK and hopped on a bus to Grand Central Station. I met her there and we went down to SOHO, where we're staying with her friends Creighton and Rebbie. They lent us bikes and we went right away to Critical Mass. This ride has been happening for ten years, but this time, the cops announced that it was time to start enforcing traffic laws. Whatever. Indymedia was reporting 10,000 bicyclists, down 45 city blocks. It was peaceful, but it did stop up traffic. Maria sais that she had never seen midtown so empty.
The next morning, we went with Nicole's friends Wendy and Pinky to the pro-choice march across the Brooklyn Bridge. That was very peaceful and actually very hot and dehydrating and dull. the cops all had croud control handcufs and riot helmets and body armor, but they were all wilting in the direct sunlight, none of them wearing their helmets. They didn't want to arrest us any more than we wanted to be arrested. Then, that afternoon, we went to the Ring Out. It was lovely sounding actually, hearing the sounds of bells ringing circling ground zero. Organizers were expecting 3000 people. I don't know how many came, because the WTC took up such a large space and people were all around it. It seemed like there were more media than ringers. Several wire services snapped my picture and then asked for my name, but A google news search seems to indicate that my image didn't go out. A San Francisco chronicle reporter told Nicole she would likely be on the front page, but her image didn't show up anyplace on the web site. It's not the first time I've been outnumbered by press while protesting, but it's still odd. I ran into Aaron, my Wesleyan housemate while there. He rang a bell with us for a while.
That evening, Creighton and Rebbie hosted a rooftop party. They have a tiny apartment, but they have roof access. There's a lovely deck up there.
this morning, I went to the gigantic United for Peace and Justice March and no-rally.( pictures will be forthcoming) They couldn't get a permit for the rally in Central Park, so immeditaly as the march ended, we had to board a subway and leave or risk arrest. Despite the hostility of the police department, the organizers estimated 400,000 participants. It was very very large, certainly the largest demonstartion I've attended. Someone there remarked that it would have been larger, except that the RNC was scheduled for the same time as Burning Man. We have our priorities on the West Coast.
However, aside from marchers, midtown was again eerily empty. Rebbie speculated that many locals have just left town. It's hot and sticky as hell anyway in Manhattan in August.
Obviously, I feel like all this protesting is useful. I don't think it will change the mind of Bush on anything. He already has ignored the world's largest organized mass protests (the around the world demonstrations against the Iraq War that happened before the war started). And I don't think it's going to change the minds of swing voters, although I don't discount the possibility. I think that Kerry will be the next president. And I think that these protests will influence his actions. Unlike our insane current misleader, it seems likely that Kerry, like any sane president, would be swayed by the overwhelming will of the people. Nixon bowed to pressure from protests and Kerry likely would too. The signs I saw were not pro-Kerry. They were anti-Bush. We're going to vote for Kerry, but if he wants us on his side after the election, he had better remember us. We're organized, we've got PACs and we're ready to hit the streets. We will continue to demand peace at home and abroad. No justice, no peace. If he's screwing the country and waging wars, we won't hestiate to call him out. We demand peace and prosperity and equality and justice and human rights and those things that ought to be the core principles of the Democratic Party.
More protests later this week. Stay tuned as I fight the forces of reactionarism and McKinley-ism.