Mayor Bloomberg Endangers 100,000's of Protesters' Safety For A Lawn
Mayor Bloomberg Endangers 100,000's of Protesters' Safety For A Lawn
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
In 1968, a wide swath of American protests groups and community activists put out a call to "Come to Chicago" for a festival of free events, free music, and a large anti-war and civil rights protest, during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The Vietnam War resistance was heating up (though that war would continue on for many more years thereafter), and the war was being fought under a Democratic national leadership, thus the DNC target. Knowing full well that unprecedented numbers, included a large amount of American youth, were going to swell in their city streets, Mayor Daley and the Chicago Police, along with other city, state and federal officials, continued to deny proper permits until the 11th hour, if then. Then they used their own denial of permits until said time to justify horrific violence upon nonviolent protesters, press, clergy, and "started beating everybody on the street who was not a policeman." To see a blueprint of what is going on in NYC right now, in preparation for the Republican National Convention (RNC) in 2004, you need look no further than Daniel Walker's official report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, released (impressively, as far as timeliness goes) in late November, 1968, after the August 1968 protests and police riots in Chicago.
Walker says that about 20,000 pages of eyewitness statements were reviewed by a staff of 212 for the report, which included accounts from police, military officials, government personnel, protesters, activist leaders, convention delegates, clergy, news media (radio, TV, print), and bystanders. In the "foreward" of this report, it says they addressed the following topics: "What were the objectives of the planned demonstrations, and who planned them? How did the city prepare itself? What types of people made up the crowds in the PARKS? Were physical and verbal attacks typical of demonstrator behavior? And did they precipitate police violence or follow it? Was the clubbing done by a few tired policemen goaded into "overreacting," or was there large-scale police brutality? Is there evidence that newsmen were singled out for assault?..." These topics are very relevant right now, as we watch NYC prepare for the RNC and resultant protests. (You can even hear Rumsfeld in there, arguing Lynndie England is some gross anomaly, not the norm, can't you?) Anyway, this is what else it said in that forward written 36 years ago: "But we urge the reader, in assessing these facts, to bear in mind that the physical confrontations in Chicago will be repeated elsewhere until we learn to deal with the dilemma they represent. In principle, at least, most Americans acknowledge the right to dissent. And, in principle at least, most dissenters acknowledge the right of a city to protect its citizens and property. But what happens when these inalienable rights are brought - deliberately by some - into conflict?"
In Walker's official report, he says that Mayor Daley did things that only added to the public fury during organizational phases, and created a hostile environment between the protesters and police and the city, and then condemned and punished the people for their "police ferocity." Yes, Chicago police and intelligence were dealing with all sorts of bizarre threats that the press was reporting, such as threats to take over Chicago's gas stations, pump the sewers full of gas and light the city on fire, to lace the city water supply with LSD, supposed assassination plots by Black Nationalists, Socialists, etc...just like NYC police and state/fed agencies now are looking for shadow protesters, and hactivists, and looking in caves and holes of their minds for the terrorist threat that forever must loom to justify their big guns and chemical weaponry used at nonviolent street protests, and to fuel their illegal spying on the public. Dave Dellinger, (who passed away recently) said regarding planned protests in Chicago 1968, "the mixture of Gandhi and guerilla was planned in advance...At the very least there was bound to be a juxtaposition of Gandhi and guerilla, given the presence of both schools of thought, and the permissiveness of the coalition. ..we wanted something with more teeth in it...we refused to negotiate the terms of civil disobedience or direct action at all." And this thing where protesters are supposed to waste a bunch of time ASKING FOR PERMITS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS is getting old. Police violated our rights with machine guns in Seattle IN THE PERMITTED PROTEST ZONES on March 22, and June 2, in 2003, so what good are the permits anyway? This is certainly an area where laws are in conflict and this needs legitimate attention, as flagged 36 years ago, by Walker in his report to the President then. The answer is not to increase police brutality, and enable police unaccountability, fueling the public's disrespect for its leaders and police departments. Nor is the answer to withhold or deny proper permits, hoping it will all just go away or hoping to deter the protesters from coming by using a big powerful hand, withholding a stupid paper permit. Bloomberg needs to realize 10,000's - 100'000's of protesters are coming to NYC this summer to protest, PERMITS OR NOT, HIS GOLDEN PERMISSION OR NOT.
Mayor Bloomberg is saying he will not give the group United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) a permit for the rally of potentially 100,000's of protesters, in Central Park, after the Aug. 29, 2004 planned march, saying, "You'd ruin the lawn." (updates at http://unitedforpeace.org). Mayor Bloomberg is putting hundreds of thousands, potentially, of nonviolent protesters, in DANGER'S WAY by his behavior, and we can prove it with a National Commission Report from the last national convention protests during a heated war. In the 1968 report, it says organizers of the protests asked for 6 parks to be open for sleeping, including Lincoln Park (which would prove to be a bed of police brutality as the event unfolded). Permits were also requested for the use of 10 parks for "meet-ins" with sound equipment, for independent rallies. Parade march permits were also sought. The city was said to be "uncooperative" in the permitting process, and was accused of playing a "power game" to stall the numbers of protesters who would come by stalling permits. I see NYC Mayor Bloomberg TRYING that tactic right now, but that is too old a tactic to work. It has been overused on protesters, they come without a permit nowadays. And there is still this conflict of law, as to WHY we need a PERMIT to exercise free speech and assembly rights guaranteed in the Constitution, at all. It is obvious that the numbers that will show up in NYC for this protest this summer NEED SOMEWHERE TO GO, and PUBLIC PARKS are the obvious choice.
The police in their Chicago '68 riots actually set up headquarters right next to the parks so they could conveniently stalk, beat, and riot upon protesters nightly. The purpose of the police presence at the parks was to keep surveillance and enforce park closing hours. Geez, let's see...do you think violence will start around park closing hours? Duh...On Saturday night at 11 pm of the DNC '68 protests, in Lincoln Park, 200 people were attacked by 60 cops. Pissed off, the protesters went to one side of the park and began to yell "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Daley right over." It is reported the police ORDERED THE PRESS OUT OF THE PARK! Finally, the crowd was dispersed, rocks were thrown at cop cars, and 11 people were arrested. Remember how protesters had ASKED for permits to PREVENT THIS? On Sunday, at 10:30 pm, the police began the curfew announcements in Lincoln Park again. After scuffles all over the park in many directions, about 1,000 protesters remained in the park. Police yelled, according to the report, "Get out of the park, you motherfuckers! You bastards!" to which a school teacher retorted, "Arrest me, I am breaking the law." Some protesters engaged in hand to hand combat with police. Crowds swelled into surrounding streets, dragging police beating them with them. Crowds dispersed up side streets, many ended up in emergency housing in local churches and even at impromptu areas such as a courtyard a ways away from the riot area.
By Monday night, in Lincoln Park, the National Guard and police agencies from all over the country were in Chicago now wanting in on some of this action. 70 clergy, dressed in religious clothing, tried to be a buffer between the police and people that night, each carrying a list of emergency shelters people could sleep in that night, as well as emergency medical and legal aid contacts, trying to help the masses. At 10:45 pm, up to 1,000 protesters were resisting the curfew in the park and most of the clergy left. At 11:45 pm, police were preparing to drive their cars and motorcycles into the crowds at Lincoln Park for dispersal. Protesters got wind of this and created a 35 foot barrier of overturned tables and small fires. By midnight, 2,000 - 3,000 were holding the park and more protesters kept coming. At 12:30 am, riots had broken out between police and protesters and police started using chemical warfare. They fired smoke bombs and tear gas into the crowds. According to witness accounts, the police were literally chanting "kill, kill, kill!" as they charged through the barricades. By 12:45 am, the crowd remained at 1,500 in the park, even after all that. It is reported that residents in the area trying to assist the police were roughed up as well, so the police also endanger surrounding homes when they riot. The police riot ended with the park cleared out at 2 am. Did I mention the protest organizers REQUESTED a permit for sleeping in the park?
On Tuesday in Lincoln Park at curfew, at 11 pm, with about 1,500 people in the park again, the same thing happened. Clergy were present this time and would not leave. 100 police officers entered the scene off a bus, singing "hi ho hi ho, it's off to work we go..." By midnight, hundreds of police from city, state and federal agencies were on the scene, and at 12:15 am, the press was told to get behind police lines for safety. About 200 people came forward to make barricades again. Police sent a cop car in and the people stoned it. Police tear gassed the crowd as 500 protesters stood firm, and sang "America, the Beautiful." At 2:30 am, as police rioting raged on, a clergy member was found standing amidst the mess, saying "There was no reason why the mace should have been sprayed into the courtyard and I cannot understand why this was done...The mace was not sprayed directly at anyone, it was sprayed without the policemen knowing who they were spraying. It was almost like spraying flies." Tuesday night brought over 100 arrests, 9 police vehicles were damaged, and 7 cops were injured. All this violence to secure a park's curfew and deny a permit to sleep in parks for a week?
Let all of the VERY predictable police brutality that IS SURE TO COME from Bloomberg NOT OPENING UP PARKS LEGALLY with requested permits be on HIS HEAD, just as the Chicago police riots at the DNC '68 in Chicago held Daley at the center of accountability also. By saying Central Park's "lawn" must be protected, he is risking ALL I just recounted to you above, and all that is recounted in the national report that came from Chicago '68. And it is true that city, state, and federal police are drooling for the hootenanny of their police careers in August. The question is, will Mayor Bloomberg read the writing on the wall, passed down 36 years ago in a commissioned report on causes and preventions of violence, or is he going to throw that commission's work out into the trash, and move forward, repeating Mayor Daley's mistakes? Is it worth police brutality in neighborhoods and public parks to "enforce a curfew" for a few days? Is it worth police brutality upon thousands to enforce required permits for park useage for a few days? That is something Bloomberg needs to get his head out of the sand and address. Because by NOT issuing permits for those parks, HE GUARANTEES POLICE VIOLENCE UPON PROTESTERS. Is it worth terrorizing a couple hundred thousand people for a lawn? Grass seed is cheap.
People need to call and write Mayor Bloomberg to stop this inevitable bloodshed by pushing the proper permitting though, so the police do not have a "legitimate" purpose and cause to beat and bloody protesters via their mere existence. Flood the offices of the Mayor of NYC and the Parks Commissioner with phone calls and faxes, insisting the permit for the use of Central Park by protesters on Aug. 29, preempt the rights of the lawn. Mayor Michael Bloomberg: phone 212-788-3000, fax 212-788-9711 Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe: phone 212-360-1305, fax 212-360-1345. If the lines are busy, please keep trying!