[Mb-civic] New York's Protests Economist

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Mon Sep 6 11:26:56 PDT 2004


 New York's protests

What are they fighting for?

Sep 2nd 2004 | NEW YORK
>From The Economist print edition

Hundreds of thousands march against George Bush, and everything else

Getty Images

The basic message

³NO MATTER who wins,² said one of the protestors outside Madison Square
Garden, ³I will protest the inauguration.² Support for John Kerry was tiny
in the massive demonstrations that gathered around the Republican convention
in New York. But, more broadly, the protests reflected a sense of grievance
that was too large for any candidate, or any party, to capture.

 Along with being broadly anti-Bush, groups were anti-war (including
Grandmothers Against the War, who met daily outside Saks Fifth Avenue),
anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-gender-discrimination, anti-Fox News
(and CNN, and maybe any media), anti-any restraints on protests (except when
the point of the protest was to goad police into a reaction and be arrested)
and anti-post-arrest detainment conditions, otherwise known as jail.

Many of the protesters were veterans of every big demonstration from Vietnam
to Seattle, with pins and banners to show for it. Few of the participants
were residents of New York, many of whom fled the city. Of those who stayed,
many who supported the causes were still annoyed by the protests themselves.

 The protesters prided themselves on their organisation. Months of meetings,
negotiations and court decisions had resulted in official permits for
designated marches (and even shopping and food discounts for the marchers).
Police cleverly minimised the need for arrests by being quick to direct
crowds through hastily placed barriers and banning any equipment that looked

 But as the week progressed, the tenor of the protests changed. Groups began
to mass for more spontaneous gatherings, some peaceful, some intentionally
packed with civil disobedience. The number of arrests swelled, often with
entire groups being taken into custody. Participants sent texts to
colleagues, who would appear in swarms. By mid-week, a vast informal network
allowed people to flit from event to event.

The new structure became particularly clear on the evening of August 30th,
when a small demonstration on Second Avenue on behalf of the world's poor
quickly swelled into a near-riot and a police officer was beaten up. A
suspect was arrested the next day after appearing at yet another
demonstration. As The Economist went to press, more than 1,000 people had
been arrested. The number of protests, about and against everything,
continued to grow.

 Copyright © 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All
rights reserved.


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