FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Coming Soon: the Bloomberg Bash

 

The way things look, August 29 could see a major triumph for the First Amendment, or a pitched battle between police and demonstrators that would be reminiscent of Chicago’s Democratic Convention police riot of 36 years ago.

Since Michael Bloomberg, the Republican mayor, has taken the anti-civil liberties position that a protest rally can’t be held on Central Park’s Great Lawn-traditional site of such major political events-thousands of those who want to gather to protest the Bush administration have concluded that this is exactly where they ought to go.

No surprise that. After all, much of the anger at Republicans and Bush is over his administration’s assault on basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

The main protest organization that has been working for over a year on the anti-RNC march and demonstration, United for Peace and Justice, recognizing that Bloomberg and his police department were committed to stonewalling their permit application for the Great Lawn to the bitter end, finally agreed to the mayor’s shabby and wholly inadequate offer of a rally site along the lower portion of the West Side Highway, a multi-lane artery that runs just along the edge of the Hudson River. Clearly, while it certainly makes crowd control simple, a highway is no place for a rally, since it forces the estimated several hundred thousand to half a million anticipated demonstrators to stretch out along over a mile of hot pavement.

The alternative, which is being discussed and promoted on numerous websites and chat lines-and advocated in the mainstream newspaper New York Newsday by columnist Jimmy Breslin–is for people to just make their way spontaneously to Central Park, which after all will remain open to the public (short of instituting martial law and bringing in the National Guard, it would be almost impossible for city police to close the park, especially given the numbers of cops who will have to be sent to the West Side Highway for the official rally).

What ultimately happens on that last Sunday in August will depend to a great extent on the decisions of individual demonstrators and marchers. If people melt away from the march as it moves uptown from Chelsea to Broadway and West 34th Street, where plans call for it to turn west and cross over to the West Side Highway, and if they then make their way northward to the park, to be joined by large numbers who have entered over the course of the morning on their own, the city would be forced to decide whether to fight a guerrilla war in the park (at the risk of hurting many innocent bystanders just there to relax), or to cave in and allow a rally.

If the numbers who decide to go to the park are small, they may simply be ignored by the city-that is unless Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make a name for himself as a municipal Ashcroft.

One question that really can’t be answered is what impact a real Bloomberg Bash, should one occur, would have on the presidential election campaign. The police riot in Chicago in 1968 probably worked to the advantage of Richard Nixon and hurt the campaign of Hubert Humphrey. Public sentiment against the Vietnam War was still growing, but had not peaked, and for many people, the violence in the streets, which much of the media wrongly blamed on demonstrators instead of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago police, was just the thing that Nixon’s “law and order” campaign wanted.

The difference this time is that first of all, opposition to the Iraq War is far more widespread, and crosses age, race and class lines much more than in 1968, and secondly, it is the Republicans who are in power, both in Washington and the convention host city.

It is quite possible that a Bloomberg crackdown on an impromptu, permit-less Central Park protest could backfire and garner more support for the anti-war, anti-Bush movement.

See you in the park!

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 23, 2020
Richard Moser
Ten Best Messages for Waging Peace
Thomas S. Harrington
The Catalan Crisis Threatens to Reopen a Debate That the EU’s Power Brokers Thought They Had Long Ago Quashed
Martha Rosenberg
SARS-Like Disease Could Become a Pandemic
Ron Jacobs
A Cesspool of Constitutional Nonsense-Impeachment in the Senate
Gaither Stewart
One Hundred Years: the Proletariat in Search of a Class
Nick Pemberton
Final Phallus
Russell Mokhiber
PBS Public Editor and the Disease of Contempt
Thomas M. Magstadt
The Myth of the Free Market
Mandy Smithberger
How the Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract
Russell Rickford
The Paradox of Populism
Howard Lisnoff
Action Research: Acquiescing to the Awful
George Ochenski
Comes Now the Winter of Our Discontent
Binoy Kampmark
Diminishing Returns: Calculated Misery in Air Travel
Nick Licata
Do Republicans Have More to Lose Than Democrats in the Impeachment Trial?
Dean Baker
The Myth of China’s Population Crisis
John Kendall Hawkins
Steal This Whistle
January 22, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Media and the Military Mindset
John Davis
The Real Megxit Deal
John O'Kane
The Obama Legacy: Reform Versus Revolution
Kenneth Surin
The “Evolving” Scotty Morrison From Marketing
Martin Billheimer
“The Cops & the Klan Go Hand in Hand!”
Thomas Knapp
Executive Power: Alan Dershowitz’s Imagination Versus the Constitution
Jacob G. Hornberger
Egypt and the Destruction of Civil Liberties in America
Justin Podur
The People of Colombia are Cracking the Walls of War and Authoritarianism
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson
Our Final Decade to Get Climate Policy Right
Jonah Raskin
Terence Hallinan: Fighter for the People and for the Legalization of Marijuana 
Colin Todhunter
Challenging the Flawed Premise Behind Pushing GMOs into Indian Agriculture
January 21, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Warmonger Cotton Accuses Antiwar Think Tank of Anti-Semitism
John Feffer
Trump Makes Space Great Again
Patrick Cockburn
The US and Iran’s Perpetual Almost-War is Unsustainable – and Will End Badly
James C. Nelson
Another Date That Will Live in Infamy: 10 Years After Citizens United
Robert Fisk
Iran Will be Changed Forever by Admitting Its Great Mistake, Unlike the West Which Ignores Its Own Misdeeds
Dean Baker
Did Shareholders’ Benefit by Paying Boeing’s Fired CEO $62 Million?
Susan Roberts
The Demise of the Labour Party and the Future For UK Socialism
Binoy Kampmark
Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision
David Levin
The Teamster Revolt Against the Hoffa Era
Victor Grossman
Defender and Spearheads
Russell Mokhiber
BS Public Editor and the Disease of Contempt
Tiffany Muller
Get the Money Out of Politics: 10 Years After Citizens United
Laura Flanders
Iowa is Not the Twitterverse
Graham Peebles
Education: Expanding Purpose
Elliot Sperber
Handball in Brooklyn 
January 20, 2020
Paul Street
Trump Showed Us Who He Was Before He Became President
Eric Mann
Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Ipek S. Burnett
MLK and the Ghost of an Untrue Dream
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail