United for Peace and Justice was denied a permit to hold a rally in Central Park. But before the march kicked off, the leaders of the procession held a press conference standing in front of the hundreds of thousands of people gathering on 7th Avenue. [includes rush transcript]
The march was a massive, slow moving circle around central Manhattan-going up New York’s 7th Avenue past Madison Square Garden and back to Union Square. The march was overwhelmingly a peaceful protest, though there were some 200 or so arrests made yesterday throughout Manhattan-most of them after the march had concluded. This weekend, more than 400 people were arrested at various demonstrations and direct actions-and a small number of activists are facing serious felony charges. There have been multiple cases of significant police violence against demonstrators and there have been police officers injured, at least one suffered 3rd degree burns in a fire set outside of Madison Square Garden.
But the major story of the day was the sheer size and non-violence of the march, which was titled "Say No to the Bush Agenda." At the front of the march were actor Danny Glover, filmmaker Michael Moore, families who lost loved ones in Iraq, several Democratic Congressmembers and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Here is a snapshot of yesterday’s march as captured by the Democracy Now! teams who spread out across the crowd.
- Sounds and voices of the United for Peace and Justice march.
Those just some of the sights and sounds of yesterday’s massive march. UFPJ was denied a permit to hold a rally in Central Park yesterday. But before the march kicked off, the leaders of the procession held a press conference standing in front of the hundreds of thousands of people gathering on 7th Avenue. We begin with Michael Moore.
- Michael Moore
That was Michael Moore speaking yesterday. Another person who addressed the crowd was Fernando Suarez del Solar, who lost his son Jesus in Iraq.
- Fernando Suarez del Solar
Fernando Suarez del Solar. A number of Democratic elected officials also spoke. Here is New York City Councilmember Charles Barron.
- Charles Barron
Another of those who led the procession was the Rev. Jesse Jackson. But he almost didn’t make it. In fact he had probably traveled the furthest of anyone to be there. Just a day earlier, he was in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Here is what Jackson had to say when he arrived.
- Jesse Jackson
JUAN GONZALEZ: Here is United for Peace and Justice national coordinator, Leslie Cagan.
LESLIE CAGAN: Well, I think today was absolutely fabulous. That what happened today was that people from all walks of life, from every community of New York and really from all around the country, gathered and said, for this day we’re going to stand together and in one voice we’re going to say no to the Bush agenda. And what we understand is that agenda has many parts, and some of us work on some parts of that agenda, but if we don’t work together we’re never going to defeat that agenda. And I think today with the hundreds of thousands of people that came out, it was much bigger than we had anticipated. I think we’ve sent a very clear message, not only to George Bush but also to John Kerry, that this movement is alive, it’s strong, that we’re determined to end this occupation in Iraq, we’re determined to turn around the economic priorities of this country, we’re determined to end the PATRIOT Act. The whole package of foreign policy and domestic policy is just we’re determined to keep working on. And today, it was you know, that moment of hope, and that moment of potential. And that is what you saw on the streets of New York.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice. RUSH TRANSCRIPT
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AMY GOODMAN: The march was a massive, slow-moving circle around central Manhattan going up New York’s Seventh Avenue, past Madison Square Garden, and back to Union Square. The march was overwhelmingly a peaceful protest, though there were some 200 or so arrests made yesterday throughout Manhattan, most of them after the march had concluded. This weekend, more than 400 people were arrested at various demonstrations and direct actions and a small number of activists are facing serious felony charges. There have been multiple cases of significant police violence against demonstrators, and there have been police officers injured, at least one suffered third-degree burns. But the major story of the day was the sheer size and nonviolence of the march, which was entitled, "Say No to the Bush Agenda." At the front of the march, actor Danny Glover, filmmaker Michael Moore, families who lost loved ones in Iraq, several democratic congress members and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Here’s a snapshot of yesterday’s march as captured by Democracy Now! teams spread out across the crowd.
WOMAN: Today’s "World Says No to the Bush Agenda" was truly a historic event. We believe it may be the largest-ever protest outside of a political convention in the United States. And it’s clearly one of the largest protests ever in New York City history. Hundreds of thousands of people came together from all over the United States, representing a huge array of communities and constituencies, but joining together in one voice to say, no to the lies, no to the war, no to the greed and hate, no to the policies of the Bush administration, which have been so destructive to the lives of people all around the world.
GREG JISHNANI: My name is Greg Jishnani, and I’m at Union Square by Broadway. The march is ending right behind me. And I’m just announcing that there’s an informal picnic set up at Central Park in the Great Lawn at 3:00 p.m. The city has denied any permits for a rally at Central Park. But everyone just ought to know that it’s their right to peacefully assemble in small groups and have a picnic and let the city know that it’s our park. The park doesn’t belong to the Republican National Convention, the park doesn’t belong to the police, it belongs to the people of New York City. And so we’re just announcing that people should come and assemble and enjoy their lunches in the beauty of the park.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Those were some of the sights and sounds of the yesterday’s massive march. UFPJ was denied a permit to hold a rally in Central Park yesterday. But before the march kicked off, the leaders of the procession held a press conference standing in front of the hundreds of thousands of people gathering on 7th Avenue. We begin with filmmaker Michael Moore.
MICHAEL MOORE: We’re here today because we’re really happy. We’re happy that the republicans only have a couple months left. And so we’re here to welcome them, show them a good time. We know they’re feeling a little depressed, seeing how the end is near for them. I’d feel that way if I were them. So you know, we’re going to give them a nice smile and a wave as we go up 7th Avenue here. And this week, while the republicans are in town, whatever we can do, to encourage them to sign up and we’re going to have recruiters around, any of them who would like to join our military and go and fight the war that they’re willing to send poor people to go and fight, in fact, just to borrow an idea from Congressman Rangle, I really think we need to bring back the draft, but only for the sons of politicians and the sons of executives of Fortune 500 companies. I think if they had to go first, we would find ourselves in a lot less of these situations. Last month at the democratic convention, I asked Bill O’Reilly a question that he could not answer. And that question was, "Would you be willing to sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah?" That’s our question to these republicans here in town. And I think we know the answer. And so, let’s stop sacrificing all the children, both in this country and Iraq. There’s a way out of this. And that way is now. That way is now. We want an end to this war. We want the troops home. And it’s just not going to work with us there. And we owe a huge apology to the people of Iraq for creating the amount of death and destruction that we’ve created there. So, very sorry that the city of New York couldn’t figure out how to allow us to have a peaceful rally in Central Park. It made absolutely no sense. And in fact, it’s made more and more sense to me, that this is exactly what they wanted. Chaos. So we’re here to show them that that’s not what they’re going to get and that we, those of us here, who are speaking and all the people back there, we are the majority of this country. The majority of this country opposes this war. The majority of this country wants the Bush administration out of office. The majority never voted for the Bush administration. And the majority are here to say, it’s time to have our country back in our hands. Thank you very much for being here.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore at the beginning of the massive march yesterday in New York. Another person who addressed the crowd was Fernando Suarez del Solar. He lost his son Jesus in Iraq.
FERNANDO SUAREZ DEL SOLAR: The high price for a speech, I pay with my son’s life. For coming here today and say, Bush lied. And who died? My son. And beautiful 972 American boys and girls. We need say, Mr. Bush, and Republican Party, stop your occupation in Iraq. Bring home now, today, not tomorrow. I lost my son, my grandson lost his father. And this one is only one story. Mr. Bush destroyed 972 families here at home. And thousands and thousands in Iraq. The people today have the right for say "Bush, get out of the White House." Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: And these are some of the voices we’ve heard. We’ll go to more after the break. At the beginning of this unprecedented march at a political convention.
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue with the sounds and the sights of the protest yesterday that wove its way through lower Manhattan, we turn to the Democratic elected officials who also spoke, including New York city council member, Charles Barron.
CHARLES BARRON: The people united will never be defeated. And that’s the message that we are delivering here today. We already won. There has been more coverage of the protest than the convention. We’re saying to the judge, the park belongs to the people. We’re saying to the police, the park belongs to the people. And we’re saying to the Mayor, the park belongs to the people. And that’s where we will be when we finish this march. That is our park. We need a regime change in Washington and New York and places all over this country. We need regime changes here, not in Iraq. We say to our people, in the hood, in the black neighborhoods, that we have to come out for these rallies, we will be rallying in Harlem on the 2nd. September 2nd, we’re going to be in Harlem. We’re going to bring out our neighborhoods for policy changes that we’re fighting for. They’re cutting section 8. They’re cutting programs all over this country for the poor. And we’re going to rally our people and say, that we will not take it. We’re honored here today to be out. And we’re making history. We already won. This is a victory for the people.
EMCEE: Thank you, Councilman Barron. The head of the New York State Congressional delegation, my congressman from central Harlem, Charles Rangel.
CHARLES RANGEL: One day someone’s going to ask, when the world went crazy, and when Bush went into Iraq, and when lives were lost and jobs were lost and hope was lost, what were you doing? Those of you who are here today will be able to tell your kids, and your grandkids, that you tried to bring some sanity to this world that we inherited. Never before in the history of the United States has our nation gone to war unilaterally, and lost so many lives and so many friends in such a short period of time. And for the president and his party, to have the hutzpuh, to return to the scene of the tragedy that we suffered here should be a notice for the entire country to say, we’re mad as hell and we’re just not taking it any more. It’s time for Bush and all of them to go and it’s time to impeach Rumsfeld on the way to the polls.
EMCEE: Councilwoman Margarita Lopez.
MARGARITA LOPEZ: As the councilmember who represents together with Alan Gerson, the epicenter of September 11th, I’m here to say two things. Number one, the same way they lied to us in downtown Manhattan, that the air was filthy and full of poison, they lied to the nation about the war in Iraq. And we need to remain very clear today here, they lied to us about Iraq. They are assassinating people in Iraq. They’re sending our children to be killed. And it needs to stop. Mr. President, the imposed president, it’s time for you to leave the White House and to bring our men and women back to America.
JUAN GONZALEZ: That was city councilwoman Margarita Lopez from the Lower East Side. Before that, Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and New York city councilman Charles Barron who is running for Mayor of New York in 2005. Another of those who led the procession was Reverend Jesse Jackson. But he almost didn’t make it. In fact he had probably traveled the furthest of anyone to be there. Just a day earlier he was in the Darfur region of Sudan.
JESSE JACKSON: I just arrived this morning from the Sudan, the Darfur region where a million and a half people have been displaced. Sleeping on the sands of the Sahara desert, a million and a half people. The world’s greatest humanitarian disaster. It rained the night before last. Now they sleep in mud. 50,000 have died, in the last two months. Approximately a thousand people a day are dying. They need and deserve our help. The world must not betray the Sudan through silence. For too long we’ve been much tolerant of African suffering and pain, tolerant of an African slave trade for which we’ve never apologized after 246 years, tolerant about Apartheid in South Africa for much too long, tolerant of a holocaust in Germany for much too long, tolerant of Rwanda, and now here is the Sudan. We have some moral obligation to use our strength to in fact have an arms embargo, to use our strength to disarm the Janjuid, to use our strength to get in at least a billion dollars for logistic support and support for the African union that they might have safe passage of food, and medicine, and tents, and relief. I was in the camp just last night, where 56,000 people walked 100 miles to get to a camp in Diala. We have an obligation to speak out. The tragedy is that we’ve lost so much moral authority in Iraq. Until we can raise our head above the sinking sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, we could for a billion dollars in, in the Sudan, seek to regain the credibility that we’ve lost in Iraq. Iraq a year later, we have lost nearly a thousand lives, Iraq, 6,000 injured, Iraq, a country destroyed. Now only a cleric can in fact hold the peace. Not the C.I.A.'s steering committee but only a cleric. A religious state is in fact emerging in Iraq. It went down the pretext that we were threatened with imminent threats. No imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no Al Qaeda connection. Now we seek to rationalize the reason to go to invasion, to occupation, to conquest. It is a misdirection. We challenge Mr. Bush, to use another course. And challenge Mr. Kerry to make a break that we might move toward a lasting peace and involve the international community in resolving that crisis. But don't stop there. In a few days from now, you’ll hear much talk about 9/11. We all felt the pain of 9/11, the loss of lives, the loss of innocence, abounding fear. But strangely enough, on September 11th, we will stop, we will toll bells, we will commemorate the lives lost and the families hurt. But on September 14th, three days later we will "unban" assault weapons. How can you reconcile making America more secure if you’re in fact reduce port security? It could have been 20%, it’s now down to around 5% because we chose to give those who make a million or more, an $88,000 tax rebate rather than $83,000. So our ports, where you more likely get biological and chemical weapons, our ports are less secure. We have fewer police on our streets. And now come September 14, the use of an AK47 will again be legal. September 14, they will "unban" assault weapons. We intercepted 7,500 AK47’s coming into the east coast just a few months ago. Suppose terrorists have 7,500 AK47’s. Every police chief in America says, stop the weapons, maintain the ban. So today we march, we march to regain the integrity of our country. We march to regain our moral authority. We march to extend the ban on assault weapons. We march for more police on our streets. We march for more port security. We march for a plan to get out of Iraq. We in fact must use our will and our diplomacy to end the madness and then let’s turn our pain to power.
JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Jesse Jackson speaking yesterday at the massive UFPJ march. Well more than a half million people took to the streets yesterday to protest the Republican agenda in New York. The march was largely peaceful but the day was hardly without incident, after the six-hour-long march, protestors did not just pack up their signs and go home. Various groups spread out across the city, holding protest actions into the late hours of the night. And many of them were met with violence at the hands of the NYPD.
AMY GOODMAN: In the Theater District a massive police presence greeted protestors who launched a peaceful, yet relentless campaign on Republican delegates attending Broadway theaters, as guests of the New York Times. Police conducted indiscriminate arrests without warning, catching protestors, bystanders, legal observers and some members of the press using orange plastic fencing and netting material, that fenced people in. Plainclothes officers riding unidentified mopeds were deployed on the streets of Times Square where they rushed dangerously on to pedestrian sidewalks to block protestors’ movements and pen them in for arrest. Protestors chanting at delegates coming out of theaters were forced away by police who often followed them for several blocks, National Guild Lawyers said, police ordered protestors to disperse, then arrested them before they were able to leave. While bearing down on one group, a senior police official ordered officers, saying quote if they stop, if they ask a question, they get cuffed. During the parade earlier in the day, 15 people were arrested, including nine charged with felony assault on police officers.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The arrests occurred after a paper mache and wood dragon was set on fire outside Madison Square Garden. One police officer sustained third-degree burns. Some 200 arrests were made yesterday, most of them for disorderly conduct. Over 400 have been arrested since Friday, when protestors surrounded the Republican National Convention.