Yesterday was very exciting. I took part in an unpermitted march against the School of the Americas, which started from Ground Zero and was set to go to Madison Square Gardens. A bunch of cops, wearing polo shirts that said "TARU" on the back were busy videotaping everyone. TARU stands for Technical Assistance Responce Unit. Their cameras were right in people's faces and clearly meant to be intiomidating. I had read on indy media that morning that cops were overheard talking about deploying "sound weapons." That could only mean the 150 decibel "megaphones." I had earplugs in my pocket. We lined up for the march. Delegates were going past in busses, getting a "tour" of ground zero. Every car on the jammed street was a cop car or a delegate bus. Right as we were about to start, the police arrested the first one or two hundred people for standing wider than 2 by 2 and thus blocking the side walk. We stayed lined up, in a pretty long line, waiting for instructions. They were confusing. Finally, some guy said we were going to do the die-in right there, so everyone broke ranks, but then re-lined up to march. Some black-clad anarchist was getting agitated. He wanted to do something for the people being arrested. I asked him what and he spun into an impassioned story about how he had been stopped by the police somehwre (Maybe a checkpoint in Israel??) and the woman in front of him had started giving birth and he cut the umbillical cord with a rock! And so we had to do something. Wow. Ok.
We walked in a 2 by 2 line spanning four blocks, towards Union Square, our new destination. The kids behind me were too radical for this march. We had to stop at stoplights and stuff. So boring. But you know, I'd rather march someplace than get arrested at the first stop light. Then we ran into a nother march or maybe another part of the same march, and lined up behind them and started towards Madison Square Gardens.
For those of you who don't know Manhattan geography, that is a long long walk. They formation we were in made it hard to do chants, cuz we'd get out of synch. So we walked and chatted. The mother daughter team in front of me had an argument about a yoga class conflicting with violin lessons. The duo behind me congratulated each other the entire way about how radical they were. somebody a few rows ahead was wailing away on a little drum. BOOM boom boom boom BOOM boom boom boom BOOM boom boom boom. Um, yeah, long, tedious march. I kept hoping that we would pass a donut shop.
Despite the arrests, the march more than doubled over the course of it's length. People we passed were generally supportive. Several people explained they wished they could march, but were at work. One guy who was partially disabled thanked us for marchng. We passed Washington Square Park and there were Quakers also demonstrating for peace.
We headed up fifth av. Around 11th street, word went down the line that folks who wanted to do the die-in should move to the front of the march. We were joined by a bunch of green-hatted observers from the National Lawyers Guild. This is a great group. They pass out information about what to do if you're arrested. The observe marches. They negotiate with the police. In other fronts, they're fighting corporate personhood and they're the folks who sued to get California to revoke Union 76's corporate charter because of their human rights and environmental abuses. Micheal Savage, conservative nutjob, calls them "a commie front organization." They're awesome.
We got all the way to 25th or 27th and apparently the cops said we couldn't go farther, so all the folks who werre going to lie down in the street did so. Somebody was standing on top of some trash, leading the croud in chanting "NYPD listen up!" followed by the text of the first amendment. Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion.... I think I now have the first amendment memorized.
The organizers were telling us not to block the sidewalks, but were widely ignored and then gave up. There was a huge crowd of press and bystanders and gawkers and protesters, all blocking everything. The bike cops all hopped on their bikes and headed out. Were they leaving? No! Cola and I ran to the end of the block and jumped over a bike in a gap to escape. They closed the gap right behind me. Standing with bikes lined up like that is a very effective way to block in non-violent protesters. They can't really get over the bikes and they don't want to fight with cops. It looked like everyone on the block would be arrested. A bunch of people were lined up, trying to get out. Then the cops got the order to move and just block the people who hadn't tried to leave.
It was late, so I left. Cola and I ran into a Billionare for Bush, putting on is costume. He had bling on, including a rinestone encrusted dollar sign to wear around his neck. There were tuxedo shirts for sale cheap donw the block, but id din't get one. My pants were filthy. I could never pass as a Billionare.
Cola and I decided to hop on the subway and go to the Metropolitan Museum, but then it was swarmed with cops. Drumk republicans carrying bags marked with the Pepsi logo were emerging from the Museum. Apparently pepsi threw them a party. They were exceedingly well dressed. Cola speculated that they were donors and bigwigs and not lowly delegated. The party did have an exclusive air. The bigwigs or whatever, seemed to have no nervousness about hailing cabs, maybe it was because it was the upper east side. There was but a single protester. We did not join him.
we took off for the Second Ave Deli to meet with Jess' friends. Right across the street, at St Mark's church, the bike block was playing drums and dancing and giving away free food. We hung out for a bit and then went to the deli to meet Jess and Co. Her boyfriend is a socialist. a couple don't talk politics. One is a adamant zionist. One is a republican. The loud zionist critized the demonstartaers. If they're out in the streets not even listening to Bush's speech, how can they criticize him? indeed.
Cola, Jess' boyfriend and I walked over to Un ion Square where there was a huge croud of people and a bunch of cops. Then it got near time for the delegates to leave, so the cops all left us to our own devices and... everything stayed exactly like before. The speaker was still shouting. People were still handing out pamphlets. Folks were still sitting on the shteps. All being leftists and radicals without being watched, and my, everything was fine. Imagine that.
Before all the cops left, a bike cops was in the middle of the croud talking to people about how tired he was and how cops have to keep the peace and when they had a prtest for higher wages, they were put in a pen too and they didn't like it, but they knew it was for public safety and it's true that some cops are dicks. Heck, he's worked with dicks and . . . then a supervisor appeared and told him to stop talking to people. He'd been out since 8:00 that morning and it was nearly midnight by then. The cops are getting tired, which is really not good. I was exhausted, and I'd only started at 3:00 pm and I didn't have to worry about terrorists or whatever the cops are freaked about.
after a bit, we walked back to Rebbie's apartment and stole her Cynar bottle and headed up to her roof with it and sat and sipped some cynar, decompressing. NYC makes me tired. Protesting makes me tired. Protesting in NYC makes me completely exhausted.
I took like a hundred pictures of all of this, but then my camera did something weird to the formatting on both of my memory sticks. I've reformatted them, but I fear they will be eaten again, sicne it did it to both. alas. I've only had this camera for 5 months.