Dispatch from NYC, via email from Lisa Stock
You may have seen the protests on the news (United for Peace and Justice this afternoon had 400,000 people!) - here a few things that may not have made it.
It all really began on Friday. Union Square (the Manhattan political hotbed) was pretty much a madhouse - and that's where I work. The protestors really didn't need to convince me of their message so I didn't appreciate being yelled at and followed, and am not sure this tactic would change anyone's mind anyway. Not only is the choir being preached to - it's being shouted at.
A big Bush Pinoccio balloon was erected in Washington Square Park. (enter your own joke here)
Friday night 6,000 cyclists with Critical Mass took to the streets, and 264 promptly got arrested. Not sure why - I guess they were blocking the streets... Oh hey, isn't the Convention doing that too?
972 pairs of combat boots were laid out by the Cherry Hill Fountain in Central Park - one pair for each soldier killed in Iraq. Many family members of the soldiers participated in this silent but powerful protest.
Another powerful moment came with hundreds of people standing in a circle around Ground Zero and ringing bells - to ring out the politics from the site. This goes for Republicans or Democrats - we don't want to see either candidate down there this election season.
Firefighters from all over the country are here to protest as well - haven't seen them yet. But I say we give them whatever they want. Can you think of anyone who deserves it more? As the third anniversary of 9/11 approaches our hearts and minds are not very far from them.
Kudos to my friend at the FBI. Woke up yesterday and found out that two terrorists had been arrested Friday in Brooklyn who were planning to blow up the subways. The specific trains and station mentioned in the plot...both mine. Later that day I saw a delegate being interviewed from Oklahoma and when asked how she felt about all the security - she replied "Well, I'll probably die, but at least I got here" and then started laughing. Glad she thinks it's funny. Also glad I wasn't the reporter - I would have slapped her. She's going to be sheltered - in fact all of the homeless were removed from the Madison Square Garden area for the RNC. Yes, for security purposes - but hey, can't we find a safe place for them too instead of just moving their benches or arresting them?
Thousands of Pro-choice advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge this morning. And were promptly met by a handful of Pro-life advocates on the other side. You've all seen that fight before - so I'll move on...
Want to protest and don't know where to go? Look up! At any given moment several helicopters are hovering in the sky over the largest gathering. So many have flown over today it's like being at the 4077th. As I write this I figure the largest protest has just moved into Central Park (near my house) and the news just confirmed that.
In the park this morning I saw two protests - 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows had a black draped carriage and were beating drums. On a lighter note, there were all kinds of people dressed in evening gowns, opera gloves, tuxes, and top-hats for the tongue in cheek "Billionaires for Bush" protest.
It seems there are protests of every kind going on - even if they have nothing to do with the election. Saw one in front of the AMNH to stop the persecution of the Falun Gong. Things could be a lot worse in this country - let's count our blessings...
Democrats outnumber Republicans 5:1 in this city. So, the question may be why have the RNC here? I thought today, and maybe I'm wrong, but if it had been held elsewhere, the opposition would not have been as great. The numbers wouldn't have been as large.
I support peaceful protests - showing up in large numbers and having your voice heard. No matter your politics - it's one of our greatest rights (and so far it's been fun to witness). But I grow wary and weary of politics now. I didn't march today. I'm doing other things - nonpolitical - to try and make this a better world (a clue rests in the last page of my book - wink). It's one thing to protest and it's another to produce. I'd like to see action follow a lot of words. There are too many of us watching the news and not walking around our cities. I don't mean to make assumptions - I'd just like to hear about good in the world instead of anger and complaining and fighting and naysaying. Someone said New Yorkers were just in a bad mood this week - it's not that we don't welcome visitors to this amazing city (please come!), it's just that when your life is disrupted for thousands of delegates, thousands of protesters, and thousands of sports fans heading to the US Open (all in the same week), you have to wonder if the city couldn't have planned better. Needless to say not many NYer's are thrilled with the prospect of hosting the 2012 Olympics. But memory is short and in another 8 years they'll be up for it again...
It's going to rain the next three days, so not sure there will be much more to report. But if aliens should come down from the sky to line up at the big red megaphone and tell us all the meaning of life, I'll let you know!