the City's shameful role today

Whether there were half a million or a million out there in the sub-freezing wind of the Manhattan canyons today, we should be enormously proud of the achievement, but we can only be horribly ashamed of the city's role in diminishing that achievement.

First "they" decided that the people could not walk past the U.N., then that the people could not get near the U.N., then that the people would be put into animal pens, then that the people would not be permitted to bus all the way into the city, then that the people could not be trusted with portable toilets. [When I heard that piece of news at home this morning, I was ready to piss on a police officer's shoes, even though I would eventually remind myself that decisions about porta-johns were not made by the rank and file.]

Governments and police are only too eager to tell us where to go and what to do, but if you were out on the street for the incredible anti-war demonstration today, or trying desperately to get to it, you saw how far they went this time and you probably have an idea of how much farther they will go the next time. In the rest of the civilized and democratic world, and even in those parts which are regarded as neither, huge numbers of people were able to assemble freely today where they chose to. They were not restricted and discouraged by the obsessive minutiae of bureaucratic and police concerns about order--and control. Americans in New York City today were confronted by a significant threat to their rights of assembly and speech.

This was a massive grassroots, democratic, political demonstration of the highest order and probably of the greatest consequence for the history of the world. It was not a sports event attended by mindless yahoos and it was not a arbitrary holiday driven by a drunken, nativist mob. Assigned and barricaded pens, totally inappropriate movement restrictions, and the threat from the visible presence of thousands of armored and helmeted police were totally out of order.

Do not trust a government which does not trust you.


For more on our own experience of today's events, see Bloggy's, "DISSENT IS HOT."

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Published on February 15, 2003 6:41 PM.

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