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2004-08-31

Thousands From Poor People’s Campaign March From UN to Near Madison Square Garden

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Rick Rowley from Big Noise Films reports from the streets on the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign march. [includes rush transcript]

Today in New York, several groups are planning a day of direct action and civil disobedience in New York. Some of the actions have been announced and others are being planned in secret. Already some 600 people have been arrested protesting at the Republican National Convention. Yesterday, there were two major marches organized by poor and dienfranchised people. And unlike the massive half-million person march on Sunday organized by United for Peace and Justice, these "poor peoples" marches were not given permits. Early in the day, some 3,000 people gathered for the Still We Rise march that went from Union Square to Madison Square Garden. Later, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union Organized the Poor Peoples March for Our Lives that kicked off at the United Nations. Rick Rowley of Big Noise Tactical Media was on the march and files this report.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

PROTESTER: We gathered in front of the United Nations because we are not playing with Bush or Kerry. We want them to stop building the prisons which is the second most money-making institution in the united states of America and weigh want them to give our people housing and health care.

RICK ROWLEY: Across the street from the United Nations under the trees of the plaza, thousands met to voice their opposition to war at home and abroad and to challenge the city’s hardline on protests by marching on Madison square garden without applying for a permit.

PROTESTER: We are going to march and we are going to let Bush and we’re going to let Kerry and Cheney and anybody else know that we are not playing with them, that they shouldn’t be elected. They are not willing to get in there and do the right thing. They have been — they have spent $80 million on just security for seven days. Do you know how many people we can feed with $80 million? Did you know how many people we can save their lives with $80 million?

RICK ROWLEY: Protesters marched, chanted and went down Manhattan’s Second Avenue. The atmosphere was festive and the mood was peaceful, that is, until the police moved in. Several officers came into the crowd and targeted one protester. But oddly, they used no handcuffs as they exited past the police line. That situation became a chaotic situation. As protesters began chanting, let him go, the officers used force to complete the arrest. The police attack the crowd and made additional arrests. As protesters entered the pen, police attempted to split the march in two, first with a metal barricade and then by charging the crowd with mopeds and beating protesters back with batons.

POLICE OFFICER: Back up! Get the [beep] out! I tell you, get back. Get back. You do what i say or else — don’t push me, man. Why the hell are you staying here. Step back. Step back.

PROTESTER: I’m stepping back.

RICK ROWLEY: The National Lawyer’s Guild reported only 20 arrests Monday. In all, more than 600 people have by arrested protesting the RNC. The divide and arrest tactics used by the police in the march have been seen in the past several days in New York here, and as have the use of undercover officers, mopeds and motorcycles. With today slated at a day of direct action and civil disobedience against the Republican National Convention, the number of arrests is bound to swell.

AMY GOODMAN: Rick Rowley of Big Noise, Tactical Media reporting from the Poor People’s March for Our Lives here for Democracy Now!.

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