New York, New York
That makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Not so warm and fuzzy has been the treatment of protesters by the police. As of this afternoon, on the fifth day of mass protests and direct action, almost 600 people had been arrested, most of whom had been involved in non-violent protest, and including many members of both the mainstream and independent media who where there simply reporting. Some 264 alone were arrested during Friday's 5000-strong Critical Mass bike protest.
United for Peace and Justice, one of the key national anti-war organising coalitions in the
"The building was formerly a garage for buses, and the conditions are appalling: the large holding pens are made of chain link fence with razor wire on top; each pen has only two portable toilets and very few benches; most people have to sleep on the floor; arrestees have gone for many hours without access to food, water, phones, or lawyers. The building most likely has asbestos and there are large areas where oil from the buses that used to be housed there has spilled. There is some question about whether the building has an operable fire-suppression system. On top of that, people are being held an unusually long amount of time before they are moved through the process and released."
The ACLU is particularly concerned that the mass arrests are being used as a way to prevent people from returning to protests and to deter others from joining protests. The ACLU is right to be worried, of course. Mass arrests of peaceful protesters, as veterans of global justice movement protests know - from
All of this quickly disposes with the arguments of squishy liberals like pro-Afghan-war SDS veteran Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando, the executive director of Greenpeace USA, who, in an interview on Salon.com by perennial protest-worry-wart Michelle Goldberg and later in a debate with Naomi Klein on Democracy Now, denounced activists involved in direct action or civil disobedience. Gitlin and Pessacantando, and Norman Mailer as well, who made similar comments at a rally in Provincetown, Massachusetts, were worried that footage or articles about protesters being arrested would damage the movement in the eyes of Middle America.
But time after time, as we see in
Ultimately, then, such admonishments by liberals of the more 'avant garde' protesters only serve to intimidate people from coming to protests and thus benefit our opponents. Gitlin and company would probably prefer that the protests didn't happen at all, lest they damage John Kerry's election prospects. Indeed, as Terry McAuliffe, chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters in a conference call last Monday: “Let me be crystal clear: I’d like to draw a line in the sand. We have nothing to do with the demonstrators. Absolutely nothing"
Of all the things that Michael Moore got right with Fahrenheit 9/11, the class argument within the film seems to have hit quite a cord with the normally class-ignorant
From a report in the Village Voice about the half-a-million-strong march on Sunday:
"As they marched on Sunday,
veteran George McAnanama led them in cadence: Vietnam
Bush and Cheney talk that talk
But we know they're chicken hawks.
If they think they're so damn right
Let these rich boys go and fight."
Oh, oh, and those photos y'all've seen of people marching down
Damn, I wish I were there.