SAY NO TO BUSH'S WAR ON IRAQ
By Amy Muldoon | February 28, 2003 | Page 2
NEW YORK police were feeling the heat last week as antiwar activists exposed the cops' tactics of intimidation and violence at the half-a-million-strong February 15 demonstration.
Word of the cops' attacks spread quickly on the Internet last week. Then, at a press conference last week, rally organizers from United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) showed a seven-minute videotape of police beatings, pepper spraying and police horses riding into crowds. One cop using pepper spray could be heard telling protesters, "That makes you feel good, doesn't it?"
More than 260 people were arrested, most on trumped-up charges of disorderly conduct. "There was not a single arrest that I saw that was not violent," said legal observer Rebekah Wolf of the People's Law Collective.
Not only did the city refuse to grant protesters a permit to march, but they used the excuse of a "code orange" terrorist alert to deny permission to rent portable toilets, reroute city transit on the morning of the rally, and cut off phones in the organizers' office during the rally.
Police penned the official rally on First Avenue behind barricades, and patrolled the nearby side streets, preventing many thousands of people from even getting there. "Had the city granted the march permit, none of what happened would have happened," protester Deanna Zandt told Indymedia. "Instead, they dealt with hundreds of points of flare-ups and confrontations, and took away our right to protest peacefully."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending the cops' actions, claiming, "Given that this is a dangerous world, I thought the police department did an excellent job." But activists aren't letting up. UFPJ is calling for New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to step down--and is considering filing a lawsuit against the city.
On February 25, the City Council will hold hearings into how the cops and the city violated our right to protest. Activists plan to pack the room.
The NYPD's behavior shows that the only "democracy" George W. Bush and Michael Bloomberg want is one free of dissent. We won't let them get away with it.