Drop Bush not Bombs – more from NYC
Another disturbing report on the NYC protests, this one from Bill in Massachusetts, who has some thoughtful comments to make.
“My soul is aching. So are my right elbow, thigh and knee.
Yesterday, I went to the rally in NYC. Having taken the “Peace Train” from New Haven, we arrived at Grand Central Station and proceeded to walk to 51 St and First Ave to join the legally sanctioned demonstration. And, about half a million other peaceful people tried to do the same. But, NYC was not prepared for the enormous turnout and the police eventually stopped the flow towards the rally.
So, there I was trapped in a literal sea of wonderfully creative, dedicated anti-war people at 50th St and Third Ave. The police, in full riot gear, had cordoned off our city block. There was no where to go. Then, without warning, came a phalanx (maybe 20?) horse mounted police. They rode right into the crowd. At the same time, about fifty helmeted cops started shoving and screaming “It’s either us or the horses.” I was first shoved by some cops, then more gently nudged by two horses, then pushed to the cement by night sticks.
Before falling, I said to a cop, “There’s NO place to go.” There was only compressed crowd with no outlet. He yelled back, “GO TO IRAQ (‘eyerack’)!” and then I was hit by night sticks on my right side, shoved to the ground and on top of four or five screaming women.
I got up, helped up two of the women before we were trampled and then I spun around to take a photo of the assaulting police badges. One of the cops tried to grab my camera while shouting “grow up.”
Then we watched as six cops attacked a photo-journalist African American women who was taking pictures of their behavior. She was about 5’2″ and it took six of them to aggressively handcuff her behind her back and throw her into a bus. They also hit another young woman in the eye and one cop used the end of a stick on the eye of a young man who was shouting “Shame!”
Later, I heard from my 19 year old son, Loren, who was further north near the rally, that he had been pushed through a barricade by the crowd and was brutally arrested by the police. Earlier, I had managed to meet up with my other son, Matt, with whom I was walking when we were attacked. Fortunately he was not hurt but we were separated by the horses and charging brigade.
Today I am sore with some visible bruises and scrapes. What is more devastating is the immoral, illegal and unbridled use of police brutality. My soul has been damaged. We were betrayed and my outrage is deep.
I had to go to the rally; it was a moral imperative and one of the few ways to protest the impending war. If enough of us could express a collective voice, maybe some representatives would be more encouraged to resist. We were a voice for so many others who could not be there, agents for those unable to travel, to stand the freezing temperatures or the crowds. I had spoken to a patient of mine that morning who began to cry because he couldn’t go but was so glad that I was making the effort.
For most of the day, the event was sane, powerful and profoundly meaningful. Along the walk from the train station to the rally, the police were more than civil, some demonstrating support for our message. Ironically, I watched a young cop fall off his horse while standing on 42nd St. He was not physically hurt but his ego was and I felt bad for him being so humiliated in front of his peers.
There were so many messages being broadcast: no to war, over-ride differences and speak in a unified voice, keep hope alive that expression will be allowed.
When the police attacked, they violated the unity. They emphasized what happens when we are polarized. Hope is based on trust. They violated our trust and attacked our responsible exercise of freedom of speech and assembly. I will be working hard to forgive their blind and foolish leaders who ordered these attacks. They did more damage than they might know. Just as war will damage more than we can possibly know at this point.
The unity represented at the rally was so encouraging. It seems fitting that it is the right side of my body that is aching today. The right side typically represents the masculine, aggressive, more overt part of the personality, the left the feminine, passive, potential part. When I was a child, teachers would force left-handed children to learn to write with their right hands. Often this would produce stuttering in these hapless kids who were victims of an uninformed pedagogy based on conformity. Fortunately we no longer do this in our schools, but what does it mean when a bullying, club swinging cop yells “Grow up” to a 59 year old professional, who refuses to conform to the goals of a minority president and his misguided hegemony?
Our collective souls were represented yesterday yet not without bruises. It will all be worth it if now more powerful leaders, buoyed by the world-wide expression of war resistance, would step forward and oppose this war.”