Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Uh Oh

The State Supreme Court has denied UFPJ’s request to demonstrate in Central Park. (More here.)

What’s the significance of this? The Park held great symbolic value, as it has been the site of historic anti-war demonstrations over the years. But much more importantly, if not widely discussed, it gave the demo organizers a way to limit the possibilities of violence.

Organizers know that over the last 5 years since WTO, police departments and authorities across the country have figured out many ways to pen in protesters and limit their movement, most of which involve heavy uses of force and are strictly about containment. These have been developed in reaction to the headless quality of such demonstrations, in which there are always blocs of protesters who will stage unpredictable marches, sit-ins, or other tactics. The result of post-WTO containment strategies, however, has been the increased potential for nonviolent protesters to get hurt.

Central Park at least offered the possibility to stage a large peaceful demonstration, expanding the anti-war and anti-Bush message to attract families and nontraditional demonstrators. Instead the city is inviting madness to the streets of New York. Just like ’68 and ’92, it’ll be some crazy Year of the Monkey shit, for sure.

Is the City making a huge strategic miscalculation or is this all part of their plan?

UPDATED: Reports this past weekend had some Republican party leaders crowing that they would welcome any street chaos as an image with which they could lambaste Kerry and paint the Democrats as extremist and unpatriotic and, yup, down with the domestic terrorists.

Turning down the Central Park permit means a bunch of things:

1) If protest organizers stick with an older plan of marching on the Westside Highway, they won’t be seen by many city-dwellers and are denied good photo opps. How urgent is a shot of protesters marching past the Chelsea Piers?

2) If they stick with the Seventh Avenue plan, they encounter lots of risks. They don’t have a destination to keep most people moving toward, and the Frozen Zone will be on lockdown. Big, bad, ugly scene.

3) If they demonstrate in Central Park anyway, they also risk clashes, fines, and legal issues.

In the first option, the protesters get upstaged in the media. Bad pictures, low coverage. In the last two, the Republican spin-meisters get their blood and their rhetorical victory.

posted by @ 5:41 pm | 0 Comments

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