Report from WEF Protest in NYC
February 2, 2002
Well, we didn't get arrested -- but we almost got crushed and we got pepper sprayed. Oh what fun!
My daughter & I met up with a contingent of people from New Jersey at Bryant Park at 10:00 a.m. and we all walked together to the Reclaim the Streets gathering at Columbus Circle. There were about 1000 people there. Many interesting signs, puppets and costumes. The "Billionaires" were there. (many of you may remember them from the J20). There was a great drum circle, dancing, a beautifully painted parachute sign, and a whole lot of energy and creativity.
Some people carried three gigantic heads of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield. Bush had Eron written on his forehead and stitching over his mouth, Cheney had an oil mustache and “Got Oil?” written on his, Rumsfield had “3000 Afghan Deaths” It occurred to me that that about said it all – the Triumvirate: Bush – Lies/Corporate Power, Cheney: Oil/Environmental Destruction, and Rumsfield: War/Global Domination. All it needed was Ashcroft to represent the destruction of civil liberties!
After about an hour, we marched across the park to join the Another World is Possible march. As we were waiting to begin the march at the SE corner of Central Park, we were all in good spirits, waving at police on top of a van taking pictures of us, chanting, talking. All of a sudden the police charged the crowd and pepper sprayed us. The crowd was pushed into a stand selling paintings and up against a fence. There was no place for the crowd to go. I helped a lady who was falling - if she had gone down, she probably would have been trampled. Anyway – Katy and I got out our trusty dust masks and bandanas - so we were okay. Several other people were severely sprayed and the medics helped them. The police dragged off and arrested about a dozen people. Many people in the crowd just couldn’t believe it. It was so unprovoked.
So began our eventful march all FREEZING afternoon! It seemed like the inauguration all over again (but colder). The police kept cutting off parts of the march - I think trying to antagonize marchers and keep all the different groups from getting together - but the protestors stood their ground, remained peaceful and held together. At one point they broke into the marchers right next to me and knocked someone to the ground and arrested them. (mind you, everyone was just marching along).
In later reports, the police tried to explain the charge at Central Park. Variously, they said that they thought protesters were going to throw shields at them or that the protestors were going to attack the Plaza Hotel, which was across the street from the incident. As an eyewitness, right in the middle of it, I can say that these two things could not be further from the truth. I was standing right next to a contingent of the Black Bloc, and could obviously see that they were going with the peaceful spirit of the march. No one was threatening anything or anyone.
Contrary to news reports - I would estimate about 10,000 people in our march. Probably about 15,000 people altogether between the different marches. Leading the march was a huge dragon puppet (40 feet long) which said "Reclaim Democracy." Someone else had a giant paper mache pretzel with the word “TRUTH” written on it. Despite the cold and the police harassment there was a TON of energy, creativity, good spirits, and people from a lot of different ideological backgrounds coming together for a common cause.
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