Bracing against the wind  

Friday, February 21, 2003

Rally for Peace

"This Administration, now in power for a little over two
years, must be judged on its record. I believe that
record is dismal." - Robert Byrd in a speech to the senate about the upcoming war.

So, Americans from around the country rallied for peace because they didn't want to see the U.S. make a mistake. Although some people used the rally as a forum for their own agendas - the crowd was, mostly, full of patriots determined to change the mind of the current administration - to steer America towards a wiser course of action.

But, for some inexplicable reason, the police decided to harrass them.

2 million showed up drunk and disorderly for the St. Patricks Day parade. There was nary a word from New York's finest (probably because they were too busy partying). I showed up at the Halloween parade with an opened bottle of beer, unmolested, and dripping in fake blood. I have been to Time Square on New Years, the Fourth of July, and more. I know they have to be tough to control large crowds. But at this protest, the cops were completely out of line.

When I came to the peace protest with a bottle of Pepsi, I was asked to throw it out - because it could be used as a weapon. I said, "lots of people drink Pepsi in the streets all the time". He said, "not today they don't". So, I threw it out. Big deal.

Then, we walked north on 2nd Ave in the freezing cold. At each block, the police had a barrier blocking people from getting to the rally, which was very crowded. After about 10 blocks, the 1st Ave streets were empty. When we tried to cross over - and a cop stopped us, saying, "You can't go that way, streets full". I said "But, we can see it's empty". He said, "Yeah but I 'm telling you that it's full". They made hundreds of thousands walk 10 extra blocks north, turn around and walk 10 extra blocks south. This caused a lot of traffic problems, and a lot of people just went home.

But that wasn't the worst of it. They drove horses into crowds of people, stole a camera from a reporter in front of my eyes, and arrested people for shouting. Basically they openly antagonized thousands of people, in an attempt to create a disturbance. They incited confrontation. Their goal seemed to arrest as many people as possible. And despite all of our mounting rage (as I write this, my hands are shaking from the memory), we all kept our calm. After all, it was a peace rally. And, by and large, we were loud, strong - yet "peaceful".

I've never had a problem with police before in my life. It seems like this war is bringing out the worst in everyone. I worry for our country. I hope we have the strength to restrain ourselves, bolster alliances without threats, and prosper in the times to come.

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