NYPD Sets June 15 Deadline for RNC Protest Permits
This news from 1010 Wins: "Groups that want to demonstrate during the Republican National Convention this summer need to submit their applications by June 15th. That's the word today from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly [Read NYPD press release]. Kelly says that groups should submit applications to the Police Department by June 15th for permits for sound devises or marches. So far, 17 organizations -- ranging from anti-war to abortion rights groups -- have either formally applied for permits or have indicated that they intend to do so."
Flashback: It remains unclear how many groups have taken out protest permits, the police are now saying 17, but the mayor's office in March said "1,000 groups had asked for permits.
Update: The Spanish-language New York daily El Diario is urging the Bloomberg administration to reconsider the June 15th ban: "The U.S. Constitution guarantees 'the right of the people to peaceably assemble.' Nowhere does it say we have to give three-months notice... We remind city, state and federal law enforcement agencies that they are charged with keeping us safe and secure, but also with upholding our constitutional rights, including the right of the people to assemble." ["The Right to Protest (With a Permit)" || "El derecho a la protesta (con permiso)"]
City Rejects Permit For Anti-War Rally During GOP Convention
The New York City Parks Department has rejected a permit by United For Peace and Justice to hold an anti-war rally in Central Park during the Republican National Convention. The city claims the permit was rejected because it said the crowd would be too large. UFPJ applied for the permit in June, 14 months before the Aug. 29 event. The police department has yet to decide whether to grant the group a march permit on that day. More from the Associated Press
From the archives: In February of 2003, the city rejected a permit for UFPJ to organize a mass anti-war march on Feb. 15, the global day of protest. This is how the Village Voice aptly summed up the situation at the time:
"The Bloomberg Administration's refusal to let antiwar activists march in New York reflects a certain Orwellian logic: Because the turnout on Saturday is expected to be so large, marching past the United Nations, or indeed anywhere in New York City, has been deemed an 'unacceptable risk to public safety.' In other words, because so many people feel compelled to demonstrate against what they feel is a potentially catastrophic path to war in Iraq, peace activists have been labeled a security threat."
Update: In an editorial titled "Lefties on the Lawn" the New York Post criticizes the city for rejecting the permit. While the Post decribes UFPG as "lefty agitators" it defends the group's right to demonstrate in a public park.
Newsday is reporting Thursday that the NYPD will "stop and search all trains entering Penn Station during the Republican National Convention."
Coverage of the Shadow Protest
Michael Slackman has an article in today's New York Times about the week-old story that protesters have suggested they might infiltrate the ranks of RNC volunteers. The story has created quite a buzz in the city's media and helped quadruple traffic to the Shadow Protest website.
In it, he fails to note a couple discrepancies between his April 22 report on the city's volunteer recruitment efforts and this latest article on the supposed infiltration.
"This is going to be a lot of fun for people that want to volunteer, and it's not a partisan thing," Michael Bloomberg is quoted as saying in the first article. But now we learn from Marilyn Shaw, director of volunteer services for the host committee, that all volunteers will be vetted by law enforcement before they are signed up. She also said volunteers would be expected to attend many meetings before getting their volunteer shirts. Does that sound like fun to you?
On a more factual level, the new article says the city has recruited 1400 of their target 8000 volunteers. The earlier article quotes Michael Bloomberg saying 2500 had already registered. Where did those 1100 pledges disappear to? Is the Shadow Protest already in effect?
Here is a timeline of this story, for those of you tracking the response times of the Grey Lady:
April 20: David Lynn of Shadow Protest sends out his press release announcing "Phantom Volunteers To Pollute Presidential Conventions' Volunteer Ranks"
April 22: Michael Slackman reports on Bloomberg's enlistment of former NYC Mayor Ed Koch to urge New Yorkers to "be nice" to visiting Republicans.
April 23: an email to the nornc announcement list responding to Slackman's article with the suggestion "that if a significant number of those 'volunteers' were actualy people opposed to the convention, things could be interesting." Discussion ensues, with no mention of Shadow Protest.
April 26: David Lynn's call is featured on the New York City Indymedia website and on RNC Pundit Patrol.
April 28: Slackman's article on the supposed infiltration.
Cops Getting In On The Action
Boston police officers, working without a contract and legally barred from striking, have already stated their intention to picket the Democratic National Convention in July if their contract is not resolved by then. But the New York Daily News is reporting today that unions representing New York's cops and firefighters are now filing for permits to protest the Republican National Convention. Like their Boston counterparts, they are maneuvering for a better contract from a mayor hosting his party's convention. But they are also pushing the federal government to provide more homeland security funds to New York City.
NYC DA Calls Political Protest "A Crime," Urges Jail For Organizers
From www.m26.org: In a move widely regarded as an anti-dissent crackdown on behalf of the imminent Republican National Convention, the NYC District Attorney has defined protest speech as "criminal", urging jail time for activists who have a history of dissent. The DA's office made the statement in a letter outlining sentencing recommendations for 16 activists recently convicted for non-violent civil disobedience. The activists are to be sentenced on Monday.
The letter demands the judge jail eight defendants out of the sixteen, citing prior records of protest activity. However, none of cases cited involved criminal charges, and the vast majority were dismissed. The cases on which the DA based the demand for jail time included demonstrations for the rights of people of color; immigrants, people with AIDS; lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people; and nations under pressure from the World Bank and the IMF.
"The DA is illegally seeking to prejudice the judge by citing unsubstantiated prior charges against the defendants - charges that were long ago dismissed with the DA's consent." said Stephen Edwards, an attorney for the demonstrators. "It's unethical, and it's not the way our courts work. It begs the question: why is the DA using unproven claims to seek disproportionate punishment in this case?"
"By requesting incarceration for non-violent protestors, the DA's Office seeks to stifle dissent and create a climate of fear around the Republican National Convention. In 20 years of representing thousands of protestors espousing dozens of causes, I have never before seen a prosecutor ask for jail time for non-violent protest", said Ron Kuby, a prominent New York attorney. MORE
What's on the agenda for this summer's conferences?
There are a few conferences set for this summer that all RNC watchers should keep an eye on.
Scheduled for the weekend before the weekend before the RNC, the Life After Capitalism conference will focus on sharpening critiques of current institutions, proposals for new ones, and strategies for realizing them.
The fifth HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) Conference will fill the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan from July 9-11. Using three floors and running around the clock, this 2600-sponsored event is the premiere gathering for the hacker community. And it's happening less than two months before the Republicans meet in the building right across the street from the Hotel. (You can still submit session proposals for HOPE on the website.)
June 16-18, the National Hip-Hop Political Convention will convene in Newark, New Jersey in June. The focus is on "developing a political hip hop agenda that communities can use to move forward," according to one organizer. The RNC is not on the agenda, but a lot of our neighbors will be there talking about politics, so keep your eyes and ears open.
June 18-20 is the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green, Ohio. While not in the NYC area, this annual event will be the best chance for independent media from across the country to gather before the Republican National Convention. There will be space set aside for those discussions, in addition to workshops on hard news editing, video interviewing, producing radio programs, and growing pains for independent publications.
Billionaires for Bush: 'For Too Long We've Ruled the World from Behind Closed Limousine Doors'
From the April 13 issue of The Indypendent, by Christian Roselund – At the March 20 anti-war protest in Manhattan the crowd was thick at the corner of 34th St. and 6th Ave. Marchers carrying large signs made their way through metal barricades that police were beginning to set up. Amid all of this, about 40 people decked out in suits and ties, and evening gowns and rhinestone tiaras displayed signs reading, “Casualties are Just Formalities” and “Blood for Oil.”
They were not well-dressed counter-protesters, but Billionaires for Bush, a street theater group that lampoons the power and big money behind Bush, Jr.
At a recent Tuesday night meeting in the Billionaires’ lower Manhattan office, more than 50 people packed the room, half of them in costume. They included graphic artists, actors, computer industry and public relations employees, and one filmmaker/trapeze artist.
“I’m amazed at the amount of energy people are willing to share - they believe our message,” said Pam Perd, the PR director for Billionaires.
Hal E. Burton, a self-described “policy wonk,” said, “the goal is to decide what our most effective [ideas] are and get them out into the public discourse.” Burton explained that the purpose of Billionaires is “to expose the capture of the government by corporations. We’re focusing on investment and return.”
The Billionaires website states, “Bush's media team has managed to construct him as a folksy everyday guy whose tax cuts are good for all Americans. It is this image that the Billionaires campaign is aiming to upend.”
And the message is getting out.
NYC Palestinian Activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti Released After Two Years in Jail
New York-based Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti was released this afternoon, after spending almost two years in jail. He was scheduled to arrive at LaGuardia Airport shortly after 10 pm. This according to a news alert by the Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti.
Farouk was a prominent Palestinian activist in New York City who was picked by immigration officials -- but never charged with a crime -- in April of 2002. The U.S. has been able unable to deport him because as a Palestinian he is considered to be a "stateles man." Until a judge's ruling last week Farouk faced indefinite detention simply because he was Palestinian. Come August when the Republicans come to town for their convention, there may be few people here more qualified to speak about how the Bush administration's immigration policies have ruined the lives of many since Sept. 11.
A year ago this month, Farouk said of his imprisonment: "For sure [this is] a message from George W. Bush and John Ashcroft to the growing movement for peace and justice, warning [through] me not to talk about human rights for Palestinians, not to condemn the massacre in the Land of Two Rivers, not to talk about this war of blood for oil, and not to defend all immigrants who are victims of the octopus machinery of the INS, and not to talk about police brutality and government corruption."
The Culture War Has Already Begun
From the galleries to the streets, the New York City arts community isn't waiting for the RNC to show their opposition to the Republicans.
Greene Naftali Gallery (526 W. 26th St., 8th Floor, 212-463-7770) is currently hosting "American Idyll." The exhibition includes works by Harun Farocki, Paul Chan, Robert Gober, Rachel Harrison, Karen Kilimnik, Carissa Rodriquez, and others that seek to undermine the Bush government's political views, policies and agenda. The show is up through May 1.
Gigantic ArtSpace opens its "Tactical Action" show on Wednesday, April 14. Besides the politcally-charged work in the gallery, they will be doing guerrilla movie screenings around Manhattan. In May, White Columns will mount their "Democracy" show.
World War 3 Arts in Action has announced a "a campaign of murals around Manhattan to bring attention to the arrival of the Republicans in NYC and their intentions to capitalize on the tragedy of September 11th. The murals will celebrate freedom of speech, the constitutional right to peaceably protest as well as drawing attention to the militarization of the NYPD in anticipation to the expected demonstrations this fall."
Some intrepid public artists have already made their marks. A water tower in downtown Brooklyn that can be clearly seen from the Manhattan Bridge has been adorned with a large, flaming circle-A. Graffiti saying things like "stop bush" or "Repubs lie" is becoming a common site around the city.