ANSWER statement on the denial…

ANSWER statement on the denial of the Central Park permit

“Today, the Federal District Court in New York City refused to order Mayor Bloomberg and the City to grant the permit for the historic civil rights and civil liberties rally on the Great Lawn of Central Park in New York City.

The plaintiffs in this case – the National Council of Arab Americans and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition – had been denied the fundamental First Amendment right to demonstrate in mass assembly and political protest in the Great Lawn of Central Park. Rather than capitulate to the pressure of the government or agree to have free speech rights exiled out of Manhattan or to its outer margins that are invisible from the center of New York, the plaintiffs went to court to vindicate the free speech rights of all progressive people in New York City and the United States who wish to challenge the Bush administration at this critical time. The RNC is holding its assembly in midtown Manhattan, and those who oppose the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policies are entitled to assemble in central Manhattan as well.

As a consequence of our legal challenge and the ongoing political struggle, the real policy of Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York in regard to the use of Central Park for mass assembly protest has been forced out of the shadows. A bright light now shines on the real program of the Mayor and the City in regard to mass assembly protest in Central Park and in the borough of Manhattan. The use of Central Park is being privatized.

The billionaire Mayor and the billionaire corporations have colluded in a plan to turn Central Park, the heart and soul of New York City, a site long associated with mass assembly, into the private playground of corporate America. The contradictions, shifting rationales and indeed flat out deceptions carried out by the Mayor and the City of New York are now clear for all those who want to see.”

More, including a detailed rundown of the lies and deceptions hoisted by the city during the hearing.

Interestingly, this story is now front page on Google News. The march this Sunday will draw hundreds of thousands, and, like the Democratic Convention in Chicago in ’68, the whole world will be watching. I will be there, and plan to be peaceful. Whether the aftermath of the march, when the march just ends in the middle of Manhattan, remains completely peaceful, is anyone’s guess.

At that ’68 convention, the official inquiry concluded the violence was caused by a “police riot.” Those who watched it live will never forget Senator Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut from the podium denouncing the “gestapo tactics” of Chicago police while Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, red-faced and furious, bellowed in anger. The audio on Daley had been turned off, however he was clearly screaming “fuck you, you Jew bastard.”

Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself, with another “police riot.”

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