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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It hits the fan

Determined not to miss the action again, I went up to Union Square to see what was going on. There was a definite "something happening here" feeling in the park, but it seemed mostly like everyone was waiting for something. Not a lot of direction.

These folks were waiting for something while wearing cool uniforms.

There were big groups of NYU "first day at school" tours wearing the same t-shirt. I can't imagine coming to Union Square today for a first day of school tour.

Restless, I decided to move up to Madison Square Park where I'd read folks were meeting at 6. It was already after 6, but I thought I'd catch up with whatever might be going on. These folks stood on the north end of Union Square looking a little uncertain.

Of course, it may have been the huge police presence up Broadway that made them feel that way. Clearly the police knew something was about to happen as well. The energy of it was hanging in the air (or was that the helicopters?)

At Madison Square Park there wasn't much happening either. Just some folks hanging around and clearly something was going to happen, but it wasn't clear what. I sat on a bench and read the paper for a bit until I felt a general shift in the crowd. Folks were gathering around a woman who was saying that there were two gathering places, 2nd ave & 15th, and the southwest corner of Union Square. She said we should go now, but only in small groups. One guys asked if she knew the route that would be taken. She answered that she didn't think even the people who would be marching knew what route they would take but that they had text messagers of some kind.

So I left, sending this by pager.

Back at Union Square there was a band playing real instruments (as opposed to those drum circles that seem to be everywhere). Folks were having a good time; note the smiles. The cops were attentive, but not really too wired. Still there was a charge of energy to the scene. There's something happening here.

I stood at the Southeast corner of the park, reading the paper and waiting for something to take shape. Suddenly I realized that the music had gone quiet and the entire park felt like it was shifting north. It's hard to explain how you can feel that something is going on and it's "over there" but it's not clear where exactly. I took the above blurry shot as a fast-walked north through the park. Everyone was walking north.

They were walking to 16th Street. Apparently the marching band and its followers weren't able to take the direct route they'd planned (I'm pretty sure MSG was the ultimate goal) so they took an alternative route. What ended up happening is that when they got on 16th street the cops sealed both ends of the block and arrested them all-- or at least, they held everyone there, let the folks with press passes go, and were going through the process of arresting everyone when I left around 8.

At first it wasn't clear what was going to happen. We all just watched anxiously as the band moved east and the cops moved west. It looked like the cops were going to just divert them to the sidewalks or something, to get them out of the street. Instead there was a stand-off and cops ran for their riot gear.

There was a huge crowd watching this all happen, getting pretty angry. The traffic cop tried to get the bus to stop in front of everyone to block the view.

Once I figured out I could get closer I did. There's one of the first arrests sitting on the sidewalk. Eventually they put a batch of them in a van, then another van came and more went in. I think they were on the third van by the time I left, but there were still a lot of people penned in.

The number of cops was really amazing. Even when it seemed like the guys in riot gear had things locked down, a whole fleet of bicycle cops came, and I could see a police truck at the other end of the street, so I assume there were troops coming in on that end as well.

When I left there was a shrill punk-rock girl trying to get people to fight with the cops and my camera battery was cold dead and night was setting fast.

Ground Zero non-event

I read that there'd be one of those "die-ins" at Ground Zero at three, so I ran down the block to see what the deal was. But I was running late so I got there at maybe 15 or 20 past the hour and all I found was some old hippies.

It wasn't until I saw news reports later in the day that I found out why I didn't find any die-in-ers:

"Officers encircled scores of demonstrators with orange netting at one afternoon protest, and authorities said 200 people would be arrested for blocking the sidewalk. Detained protesters were loaded onto an off-duty city bus.

The protest’s 500 demonstrators, a group called the War Resisters League, said they were staging a “death march” from the former site of the World Trade Center to Madison Square Garden, site of the convention. The arrests happened about a block from Ground Zero."

I wonder how long that operation took them to do. I was standing right there and saw/heard absolutely nothing. Even the cops were just hanging out looking bored. Could there really have been hundreds of arrests going on on the next block? Or was it all over in under 20 minutes?

By the way, one thing I meant to mention about Sunday is that inspite of communist stereotypes surrounding protesters, they certainly do have the capitalist bug. Union Square is a regular t-shirt/button/protest junk market, and everywhere there are protesters there seems to be a guy selling buttons or something.

random organizing girl in madison square park tells crowd there are functions at union sq and 2nd&15 'floating street party' 'go now' 'small groups'

Monday, August 30, 2004

Feds ride HOGs

Turns out the feds ride hogs too. This is taken down in front of where Mortons used to be in the 90 West building. I've been wanting to get this shot since they started locking things down for the convention so I finally just asked a cop if he minded. No prob.

Points of note: The anniversary logo on the fender. I wonder if these are a new feature or if they replaced older bikes (and if they're replacements, I wonder where the fleet of used bikes are now). Also the logo of the Federal Protection Service. Something I never realized existed.

Delegates, your ride is ready

I finally found a good vantage point to show this. These busses are standing ready to pick up the delegates from the Marriot World Financial Center. It seems like they're always there, so maybe it's some kind of shuttle service. As you can see, it puts a pretty big pinch on West St. traffic.

On the plus side, if you happen to be trying to pull into West St. traffic from Carlysle St., usually a tricky endeavor, particularly if you want to cross all the lanes to make a left into BPC at the next light, the cops actually stop traffic for you. Damn handy.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

March summary

Just way too many photos from today to fit in a single post so I broke it down into the categories below.


The End

Crowd Shots

The Bush slash

Faces with names


Part of the point of marches like the one today is to attract attention, so naturally there were a lot of outrageous sights. Some folks I thought were trying a bit too hard, others didn't do a very good job, and others... I took a picture of.

This flag had three rows of 7 and three rows of 8 so... 45? I don't know anything about antiques, but seems like something you wouldn't want to paint on.

Really well done puppets. Kinda creepy. (by the way, they're resting)

The obligatory arrest shot. I got there after the arrest, but I think this guy mighta had it coming. No one was too worked up about his fate even though everyone (including the cop on the right) was filming it. Even sitting on the sidewalk he was pretty beligerent.

I was lovin' the blimp all day.

What the heck happened?

As I mentioned, the Billionaires for Bush are really effective. Not only do you know exactly what they're talking about as soon as you see them, but they're fun to look at and the media just loves them. They were all over the place today and everywhere they were there was a pile of cameras eating them up.

The End

As I took this shot a guy nearby said, "Where'd all the people go?"

This is the end of the march. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe something more like stragglers. This ended with a pretty distinct last-guy-in-the-march.

This is the end from the other side.

Behind the march street cleaners criss crossed and made figure eights, not unlike Zambonis at a hockey game.

There are the barricades I was standing on earlier. I thought of getting back up to do a before-and-after, but do you really need to see a(nother) picture of empty 7th avenue?

Crowd shots

The best crowd shots will be done by the professionals, so I didn't want to take up too much space with my own. But of course, it's kind of hard to resist the "you gotta see this" impact of so many people, so here are my select bunch:

There's a media swarm in the middle of this one. I got the shot they were fighting for later on.

This one for the code geeks.

When I talked to Greenpeace's Rex Weyler, one of the points he made about protests is that the protest has to suit the cause. When you're fighing whale fishing, it makes sense that the protest act is to put your boat in front of whaling ships. That said, a lot of people didn't quite hit the mark in making their protest statements today. I think the two most coherent messages of the day were these folks and the Billionaires for Bush.

I moved up to 18th street on top of some street barricades for these. Where's Waldo?

Nice Andre placement.

I reckon whoever thought of putting that there had this exact photo in mind when they did so.

You know you're watching the march while standing next to F.I.T when people are using the protesters as a backdrop for a fashion photo shoot.

This is smack dab in front of Madison Square Garden. Strangely not that much action, kind of the eye of the storm. Above 30th street there's no way to be a spectator for the march, so I had to join the stream. That's how I got the Bush slash shots in the entry below. On 34th it was possible to become a spectator again.

Fox News was on the Macy's TV with crowd shots. Folks were tickled to see themselves on TV until they realized it was Fox. D'oh!

Down at Union Square (By the way, these photos are a little out of chronological order. I basically walked the march route twice, lapping the protesters, so some shots came the second time around.) there was a bit of tension between cops and protesters on the south east corner. It was kind of a weird scene. To me it looked like the riot cops were just sort of standing by, but some protesters resented their even being there, so they sort of stared at each other and filmed each other and some protesters flipped the bird and shouted.

A face off of a different kind. Trees versus buildings. The trees are the north side of Madison Square Park. Protesters in the distance march down Broadway.

Thank you New York.
(One note about this one, way on the right is a hotel awning with a message welcoming the RNC. That awning got more boos and rage and shouts of "Shame" than the actual MSG did -at least when I was standing there. I wonder if folks didn't quite know what they were shouting at once they got in front of the Garden.)


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