Fear and Loathing in New York City

It’s frightening. Walking around Manhattan has become scary. There are groups of police on every corner in Midtown. Subway entrances are blocked (hope there aren’t any fires), some streets are closed off so pedestrians can’t even cross them. People are afraid and confused. Look at the view here.

Most Americans probably aren’t getting the ‘real’ news about what is happening so I want to share some links and info. More than 900 protestors were arrested on Tuesday. Check out Union Square arrest photos here. Metro buses have been turned into police vans to cart people away. Police are photographing ALL the protestors. Isn’t that illegal? I believe the ACLU is working on it but of course it’ll all be over by the time anything happens in the courts. Photos of police arrests and civil rights monitors at the library here. Can you spot the undercover biker cops here? (Hint: scroll down a few photos.) Read about this photo-blogger’s illegal arrest here. Another blogger tells her story of escaping arrest after 3 hours detention on the street here. She is more sympathetic with the police and blames the big guns for the arrests.

The blogosphere has a lot of eyewitness stories and photos of events both in and out of the RNC. For a good list of links check out The Gothamist.

Our president’s sole claim to success is his protection of our nation from terror, so why is he generating so much terror here? I imagine Osama laughing at the arrests of protesting, patriotic American citizens.

Jen J


  1. “Our president’s sole claim to success is his protection of our nation from terror, so why is he generating so much terror here? “

    Are you claiming the bush is responsible for the actions of the protesters?

  2. Are you claiming that Bush is responsible for the actions of the protestors?

    No. I’m claiming that all the people in charge who have made this city a police state and allowed and encouraged the violation of rights of Americans to protest are responsible for what’s happening.

    The violent protestors are breaking the law. Holding thousands of people overnight for a public nuisance violation is breaking the law. It’s bad all the way around. I’ll ask my housemate what he thinks when he comes home from the slammer tonight. He was arrested yesterday.

  3. Dave: Or do New Yorkers simply resent the fact that Republicans decided to hold the convention there?

    I think that a lot of New Yorkers resent the fact that the location for the Republican was selected mainly in an attempt to cash in on the whole 9/11 tragedy. New York is not a Republican town, it’s a liberal town, so for the Republicans to choose New York in order to use the former site of the World Trade Center as a backdrop is pretty tacky (to put it mildly).

  4. Perhaps it would be better if we prescribed a protest zone, like the DNC.

    There was a protest zone allowed in Union Square but people were arrested anyway. The free speech zone crap you described comes from the Patriot Act, not the DNC.

  5. As a New Yorker of 33 years standing–I think I can say–we just don’t like other folks of any political standing clogging up our sidewalks with their lollyygagging walks, staring up at the tall (gee whiz!) buildings, and talking about how “it is a nice place to visit–but you really wouldn’t want to live here”-(even visitors in testimony meeting say this!).

    When I went to a museum yesterday where Newt Gringrich was–we had to drag past security and his hangers-on to get in and ….YIKES-so off the point.

    But… yes ….the arrests are reprehensible and the fact that they are putting folks in buildings made for buses and the arrestees have to sleep on concrete with oil spots is nasty.

    I am quite sure that with the terror problems that civil liberties are being infringed on…and protestors are a bit more militant than needed. It is a delicate balancing act and not done well by either side at all times, in my opinion.

  6. Dave, should the Republicans limit themselves to Republican towns? Of the ten largest cities in America that leaves, what. . . Houston?

    And I am with Measure….why on earth can we blame President Bush for what’s going on? It would be better to keep the police on their normal beats and let the protesters do what they want, right? Ask the protesters themselves, and they’ll tell you that a failure to incite the police to push them around a little bit would be a failed protest.

  7. Did you see the statistics on the politic beliefs of many protestors? The surveys I saw were pretty scary. I’ve been trying to google them but haven’t found the surveys yet. They were done by a reasonably large paper.

  8. Do you have a link for people being arrested in the free speech zone?

    Admittedly, it would have been ironic if the Democrats had gotten a zone like the one they built in Chicago, but the way you treat people ought not to be a tit for tat sort of approach but tied to basic rights and appropriate action.

    Though there were some demonstrations inside the convention, so Democrats did a better job of breaking the law and public disruption than the Republicans did.

    To the extent it was anything more than theater.

  9. Eyeroll. Well, obviously nobody gave “them” the right to order ‘publicans out of NYC, else the ‘publicans wouldn’t be there. However, I believe it’s the first amendment that gives “them” the right to express “their” dissatisfaction with the ‘publicans’ presence.

    IMO, it’s the OTHER side that likes to equate “expressing our opinion” with “enforcing other people’s behavior.”

  10. Has anyone seen the Denzel Washington movie “Under Seige”? This is an example of a police state. Barbed wire, Military equiptment, gitmo style prisons and whats more tragic is going door to door pulling people from their homes when they have done nothing, detaining people without arresting them over long periods of time, no due process, a complete removal of a person’s rights.

    This is no where near what is happening in NY. Even as I look at the very skewed pictures offered up by people who are far left of neutral I can see many ways that people would like you to think that Bush has rolled up his sleeves and called out the dogs.

    The police are monitoring protests. Protests which historically are known to become violent if unsupervised at that. When people violate the law, loitering, jay walking, blocking traffic etc. they should be dealt with by what ever means the law dictates.

    It would be unreasonable for every police officer to try and ticket each person. The charges for littering would be as numerous as the other charges. By holding someone overnight, which is acceptable under the law, just not used very often, the police are trying to do the most efficient job possible.

    Perhaps it would be better if we prescribed a protest zone, like the DNC. Razor wire fenced in asphalt with crampt quarters for anyone who dares raise a picket sign when the Dems show up. I guess thats about the same as the NYC police state.

    Oh and one last thing regarding the police union instructing officers to sue in civil court. Good for them! If a citizen can sue an officer for mistreatment in civil court it should be reciprical.

  11. I admit to using exagerrated rhetoric. I was purposely trying to be inflammatory.
    But the fact is, I haven’t seen any angry protestors. All I have seen are cops everywhere and I find it frightening. Most of the protestors being arrested were not breaking any laws, they even had permission to be where they were. And dozens of people are being arrested just for being in the same place at the same time as the protestors. What law makes it legal for them to hold people overnight and most for more than 24 hours?

    The message being sent to New Yorkers was protest and suffer extreme consequences. I’m not blaming the Republican party. And I don’t know anything about what happened in Boston. Bloomberg is probably the one who directed the police action and the scary unconstitutional Patriot Act (sanctioned by our Prez) gave him the excuse to do so.

    How many New Yorkers have you seen complain about protestors clogging up the streets? The streets are always clogged–except for this week. I haven’t seen one protestor. It’s the police who are in the way and causing inconveniences, which I would be happy to have them do if there was a good reason for it. You think a street cop can stop a terrorist?

  12. I haven’t seen any polls, but the Republican certainly want to paint them as radicals, and probably many them are. But my friends that are there protesting are very mainstream Democrats, and it says something that this administration has sparked the largest mass demonstrations since the 60s. Do you think W will use the “uniter, not a divider” line again?

  13. I really wish I could edit my comments. Let’s try again:

    Are you claiming that Bush is responsible for the actions of the protestors?

  14. Judy Brooks says:

    Jen is correct. I never saw an out-of control protester. I DID see the footage of an undercover police officer SLAMMING his motorbike into the BACK of one of the protestors. When the crowd turned on him and one fellow hit him a few times, guess who was arrested. It may not be a police state, but get off the train and climb up the stairs in Penn Station, and you’ll see more police officers than people. (except at peak times) This is not an exaggeration. Around convention sites there are more than 40-50 police at EVERY INTERSECTION.

    At supper the other night, a friend casually commented that someone had sent him an e-mail of “some democrat” who had spoken at the convention. “And it was just great! I’ll have to forward it to you,” he said.

    “Do you mean Zell MIller?” someone at the table asked.

    “Yes, I think that might have been the name. It was the greatest speech.”

    “ahmms. and ahaws…at the table.”

    Someone else says, “I thought the speech was way over the top. Did you watch him?”

    “No, I haven’t seen any of the convention. I just read part of the speech.”

    Someone else says: ‘Zell Miller sounded like he was crazy”

    Another said, “Did you know he was assistant to Lester Madox?”

    “Who?” the Zell M. lover said.

    Now, that’s what makes me a little nervous. That people who didn’t watch the convention, who don’t know who Lester Maddox was, who take e-mail to be truth—ARE VOTING! It’s hopeless. As I said before.

    Give up. Bush won. The end.

  15. Jen, why do you think only violent protestors are breaking the law? Isn’t protesting and clogging up a street without a license also breaking the law? Why does their right to yell and protest necessarily trump my right to drive on the road?

    I’d say that overall the protestors have been pretty well behaved, but some seem to think that their right to free speech trumps everything else. Were I a New Yorker I’d have been a little pissed. Of course I remember the Olympics which was *way* worse than anything I’ve heard of going on in New York. So overall I think people need to chill.

  16. Just to second Dave, it seems like many are arguing that 911 shouldn’t even be talked about by Republicans. Yet it is the response to 911 in which it seems the divide is possibly widest.

    I say possibly, since I honestly can’t fathom what Kerry would do *practically*. He’s made vague comments about being more diplomatic and so forth. But those seem to ignore *why* the Bush team couldn’t get Germany and France involved. I rather doubt Kerry would have more luck. Further Kerry’s protectionist statements would, if anything, drive a deeper wedge between the US and Europe. I wish Kerry would point out in his post-Viet Nam history what things he supported that would make us think he’d do a better job.

    Given that I can understand why Democratic supporters don’t want Republicans to talk about 911. But to say it is cheap or tacky is akin to saying politicians in the 1940’s shouldn’t have talked about Pearl Harbor.

  17. Mark, on what grounds do you make the charge that NYC was chosen for the Republican Convention to “exploit” the sad events of 9/11? you are beggining to sound like the lefty protestor, types who were on radio and TV in th weeks prior to the convention, claiming that republicans, unlike all other Amercans, had no right to be in NYC – i wonder who gave you all the authority to order Republicans out of NYC?

  18. Ryan, I think we agree. Despite the sudden habit of the media to display maps of the US composed of red states and blue states, there is no such thing as a “Democratic state” or a “Republican city.” Just because 55% rather than 45% of the citizens of a state or city vote one way doesn’t mean that party “owns” the state or city. That kind of thinking just adds to the polarizing trend so visible in political rhetoric and the media.

    I would think any city would be happy to host the convention of either party. This idea that some New Yorkers think the Republicans shouldn’t be welcome to have the convention there is as parochial as Utahns thinking every member should vote Republican. New York is an American city, not a Democratic city. New York doesn’t own the “9/11 symbol” anymore than Hawaii owns Pearl Harbor or Philadelphia owns the liberty bell. These are national symbols.

  19. Sharon,

    Its so good to see you post.

    I’ve watched all of the keynote speeches to the Republican convention and I have to admit that they are running a very effective program. I personally believe that they are heavy on the fear-mongering and this has the potential to backfire, but so far I haven’t heard that it is hurting them.

    I’m intrigued to see if Bush can be as effective an advocate for himself as Guiliani, Arnold and Zell were–I’m guessing not because he doesn’t have the same sort of charisma and independence, but perhaps tomorrow I’ll think differently.

  20. The whole ‘police state’ line strikes me as the most vacuous argument I’ve heard in a while. Look, anytime people are getting together in huge throngs carrying anger like a weapon, it’s a good idea to have some law enforcement presence visible. The alternative is anarchy, something I’m sure a trampled protester or injured bystander would certainly blame on the government if they didn’t send the cops in for crowd control.

    People covering this mess show pics of a lot of cops standing around as if that is sufficient to show we’re a totalitarian regime. It baffles me how the presence of police in the face of such huge angry crowds condemns the city or the nation.

    Police go where they’re needed. If the protesters didn’t show up, they wouldn’t be needed, and then we wouldn’t have this ‘police state.’ Can you please tell me why it’s wrong or anti-democratic to have some law enforcement? (and please don’t try to say that there aren’t laws being broken. We all know better).

  21. Well, the obvious comparison is with the Democractic Convention in 1968 at Chicago (hope I’ve got my dates right on this) where protestors were rather aggressively suppressed by Chicago’s finest. But in NY the motivation for the suppression is obviously concern about sneaky terrorist bombers, not an inherent desire to suppress the speech message (if any) of those protesting.

    Do New Yorkers feel anything would be different if it were the Democratic Convention being held there? There would still be lots of police and security closures, but fewer demonstrators, and it seems wrong to blame the Republicans for the fact that demonstrators choose to demonstrate.

    Or do New Yorkers simply resent the fact that Republicans decided to hold the convention there?

  22. What’s interesting about the protestors (and more have been arrested already than in the entire ’68 convention) is that the police union apparently has instructed their members to sue in civil court any protestor that injures them. The union will pay all the legal fees.

  23. Whoops, sorry, Dave. I meant to address my remarks to Mark.

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