---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 22:09:01 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Protestors Overflow NYCs Central Park
Protestors Overflow NYC's Central Park
On Sunday in New York City, 15,000 determined demonstrators said no to war
By Stewart Nusbaumer
Oct. 7, 2002
It was a bright, warm autumn day, and approximately 15,000 protestors
gathered last Sunday in New York City's Central Park to demonstrate against
a possible war with Iraq. The mood remained
relaxed, even pleasant, but also determined.
"This can't be," insisted Bob Borden from Brooklyn. "This clown [Bush] has
no idea what is in store for him if he insists on pursuing this war. We're
not going to let this happen!"
The large crowd was mostly young, in their 20s, numerous university
contingents were present, and 30s, with a sizable number, approximately a
third, middle-aged. There
was certainly the feel of an anti-Vietnam War demonstration. The number of
in New York on Sunday, however, dwarfed any anti-war protest in the early
is, before large numbers of U.S. ground troops were deployed to and died in
More than the feel of a Vietnam anti-war protest, the history of that
present in Central Park. The American protest during that earlier war in
Southeast Asia is
now being drawn upon by leaders and participants to stop a war in Southwest
it begins in earnest.
The New York City "Not In My Name" rally was only one (although the
largest) of thirty
that occurred over the weekend throughout the nation, including in Alaska and
Washington state and Colorado and Massachusetts, in small towns and in
Portland, Oregon, an estimated 10,000 people rallied in the city's
"No more war, no more war." In Texas, nearly 500 at the state capital in
preferred the chant "No more blood for oil." In San Francisco, several
demonstrators jammed into Union Square and beat drums for peace. In
New Hampshire, almost a hundred protestors screamed antiwar slogans outside as
President Bush gave a speech in support of Senate candidate John Sununu.
Although the setting at East Meadow in the northeast corner of Central Park
minutes from Harlem, there were few Blacks at the New York rally, and fewer
Still, the overall turnout was huge, beyond people's expectations,
natural bowl of the East Meadow and forcing protestors back into the park
and even onto
Fifth Avenue, which slowed vehicular traffic to a crawl.
"I was afraid only a few hundred other people would show up," said Tom
Levi, who lives
near the park. "This is fantastic!"
Beyond the number of protestors, their mood was also impressive: throughout
event, people appeared friendly yet serious, concerned with a spirit of
defiance. No one
was arrested, not a single disturbance was observed. People simply enjoyed
weather while focused on ending a major war before it has even begun.
At the bottom of the slight slope that formed a grassy bowl in East Meadow
speakers' stage with a large banner: Not In Our Name, the name of the group
organized the rally. (www.notinourname.net)
For four hours in the unseasonably warm afternoon weather, a succession of
(most limited to less than 2 minutes) spoke of a litany of offenses. The
wife of a World
Trade Center victim expressed outrage that the U.S. might invade Iraq; an
screamed at the U.S. government for seeking war with Iraq; an
criticized the U.S. bombing of Afghan civilians; the wife of a Jordanian
man deported to
Jordan cried for the return of her husband; an Irishman gave an articulate
America, his swipe at the media producing the loudest applause; a student
State implored her generation to resist; a Christian minister talked about
morality; a Black Muslim, representing a long list of Muslim groups, quoted a
segment of the Koran for peace and against war.
With the computer and printer now ubiquitous, it's not surprising there
were a ton of
leaflets advocating every cause from free Mumia Abu-Jamal to free Palestine
the trees and revolution now! The thousands of protestors, however, brought
self-made handheld cardboard signs: Dissent Is Patriotic, and everywhere,
Not In My
Name, the theme of the rally. In fact, I had never seen so many signs at a
demonstration, or so many made by individual hands expressing their slant
"I'm a Vietnam vet," the slightly gray-haired, thin Jim Davidson, wearing a
fatigue shirt, told me. "This feels like 30 years ago. It's the sameimmoral
have learned nothing, not surprising since Bush evaded the Nam and just
drank his lazy butt through life. We have to speak up, now, not later,
right now! Later is
Being New York City, there were several celebrities. When Susan Sarandon was
announced as the next speaker, the crowd made a gentle surge toward the
gently. Sarandon pleaded with everyone to call the Congressional
holding out against supporting a war with Iraq. She was quickly replaced by
Robbins, who distinguished between Afghanistan and Iraq, one of the few
do so, and strongly opposed any war with Iraq. Neither spoke longer than
famous speakers, a refreshing display of egalitarianism in this era of
elite benefits and
Spaced between the speakers was live music, also kept on a short time
lease, just a few
songs and then out. Before the event, however, an Indian-Pakistani group
the swelling crowd, caressing the anxious edge of any demonstrator. Later
be an outraged Black rap group, then Saul Williams with his antiwar songs
enthusiastic response from the crowd. Finally a woman singer. I didn't get
her name, but
heard her sweet sound echoing through the trees of Central Park, jolting me
August 1969, to the Woodstock Music Festival, when while walking in the
the glorious voice of Janis Joplin bounced off the trees.
"I'm issuing a pink alert!" screamed a speaker who advocated women being more
aggressive in stopping war. In quick sucession, three women whose sons were
New York policemen said they were against the war. Then a Puerto Rican,
"I'm a Puerto
Rican and I'm against the war ^Å." A Filipina expressed outrage with
and American military men; a fiery woman from National Public Radio slammed
mainstream media; a lawyer opposed illegal detentions; a New York State
into all timid politicians; a British artist^Å. And all, of course, were
opposed to war.
A sign weaved through the crowd: Wake Up! Democracy Is Over. Rome Needs Oil.
"And here is Martin Sheen," an Indian accent announced. "It's great to see
debate on such a critical issue," Sheen said.
"What kind of public debate is this?" asked a man either to himself or to
the child on
his shoulders as he walked past.
It's true, this was not a forum for debate, it was the coming together of a
point of view.
A sign, held by a middle-aged woman: You Can't Kill An Ideology With Bombs!
standing close, her sign said Preempt War while his read Preempt Bush. This
was not a
gathering to explore the issue but a rally to motivate for action.
Two hours into the rally, the central event occurred, the public recitation
of a "Pledge of
Resistance." (www.notinourname.net) The entire crowd of 25,000 stood and
from thousands of green colored brochures: We believe that as people living
in the United
States it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our
government, in our names.
Not in our name will you wage 'endless war'^Å.
"I'm outraged," said Melissa, who came to the city from New Jersey with her
to attend the rally. "Bush does not speak for my generation. Almost
everyone in my
high school thinks he only speaks for the oil people, for business. I hope
we stop this
As the fast pace of speakers settled into a rhythm and the warming sun
soaked up the
demonstrators' energy, people started looking at each other as much as at the
speakers. And at that sea of endless signs. There were the predictable
ones: No War
Against Iraq; No War For Oil; Not In My Name; Not With My Money. All very
were the more unique signs: Kill SUVs, Not People; There Is A Terrorist
Behind Every Bush!;
The Emperor Has No Brains. And probably my favorite, Take The War Toys Away
Appropriately, this sign was held by a sweet looking grandmother.
"When you have war abroad," Melissa repeated after a speaker, "you have
at home. That's right, they go together!"
As the final hour wound down, people began to filter away, walking east
Avenue and west into the Park. "Racial, ethnic profiling is a serious
problem," a woman
in her early 30s said while heading into the park. "But I'm against the
laundry list of
grievances," responded her partner who wore a No War On Iraq T-shirt.
they don't show the connection to the war." The chill of the New York
returned; he slipped on a jacket, across the back it read: Organize Yes We
AFL-CIO Organizing Institute.
The rally did include a long list of complaints against the U.S., some
related to the War
on Terror, others only to Iraq, some not related to either, such as police
this was a rally not to organize, but to inspire. To inspire 15,000
15,000 Americans. The message that war with Iraq would be wrong and is
came through clearly and strongly, a crucial message today.
Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine.
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