Anti-war protest largest of wild disruptions planned for week
MARCHING TO A HALT
New York Daily News
BY MAKI BECKER DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER WITH MICHAEL SAUL, VERONIKA BELENKAYA, JONATHAN LEMIRE AND LESLIE CASIMIR
Sunday, August 29, 2004
IT’S THE GRANDDADDY of this week’s protests, a massive march that will shut down huge swaths of Manhattan.
Streets will close. Traffic will back up for blocks. Fifteen bus lines had to be rerouted – all to accommodate the 250,000 anti-war demonstrators who are expected to march past Madison Square Garden today to voice their outrage at President Bush and his administration.
And, of course, that’s even BEFORE the convention gets started tomorrow.
The peace march is the largest of 29 authorized demonstrations, from marches to vigils, through Thursday.
Another was yesterday’s pro-choice march with thousands of protesters walking en masse over the Brooklyn Bridge as a handful of anti-abortion activists jeered them.
“It’s exciting to see so many people in one place with one objective,” said Kayte Young, 37, a librarian from Houston who came to New York to protest the GOP. “It makes me feel hopeful about the future.”
Then there are the rallies that don’t have the city’s stamp of approval – like Thursday’s naked protest on Eighth Ave. by AIDS activists and Friday night’s mass bike demonstration that ended with 264 arrests.
“I feel very sad that we were arrested for not doing anything,” a woman who identified herself as “Dee” from Hell’s Kitchen said yesterday after being arraigned on disorderly conduct charges. She spent the night in jail after being arrested near MSG with her bike. “We were just standing there on 34th St. and Seventh Ave.”
Sit-ins, die-ins, street theater, direct actions, disruptive behavior and civil disobedience of all kinds have the Internet abuzz and are being advertised on everything from flyers to stickers plastered on sidewalks.
“We must go beyond voting and step into the streets,” urged Carwil James, a member of a group calling itself the A31 Action Coalition, from the steps of City Hall Friday.
The coalition is urging Tuesday, Aug. 31, to be a day of civil disobedience for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and people from across the country eager to show their unhappiness with the White House.
In a sure sign of mayhem to come, a detailed list of the times and locations of private events throughout the week for RNC delegates – golf outings, martini parties, fancy brunches and welcome receptions – was widely distributed via E-mail to anti-Bush demonstrators yesterday.
“Use this information as you see fit,” the E-mail reads. “Let’s show the Republicans what we think of their convention.”
The city is prepared to handle as many as 1,000 arrests a day through Thursday. Extra courtrooms and jail space have been arranged. The NYPD has issued thousands of plastic cuffs and riot-ready helmets and shields and has even called up its unarmed auxiliary force to help keep the peace.
The unpredictable nature of the protests to come and the specter of possible violence has authorities worried and anticipating all sorts of trouble.
Today alone, cops are bracing for thousands of protesters who were denied a permit to rally on the Great Lawn of Central Park to descend on the historic landmark in a show of defiance.
Then there’s Mouse Bloc – a series of street protests outside eight Broadway shows hosting RNC delegates this evening.
“The idea is simple: show up at 4:30 at one of the eight theater locations and be ready to topple the elephant to the ground,” urges one Web site promoting the event.
But the wildest anarchy may come Tuesday, courtesy of A31.
The Manhattan offices of the Carlyle Group, a Hummer dealership, Gracie Mansion and Sotheby’s have been targeted for unspecified “direct actions” that day.
“Anything is possible,” A31.org’s Web site suggests of the day of disobedience. “We will shape history. The only limit is the boundary of our collective imagination. See you in the streets.”