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2004-09-03

Harlem Rallies Against Bush & GOP

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The anti-Republican National Convention protests continued for a seventh day on Thursday. We hear from speakers Partha Banerjee, Monami Malik and others. [includes rush transcript]

The Republican National Convention has wrapped up and so too have the mass protests that have rocked the city for a week. More than 1700 people were arrested, the largest number of arrests ever at a political convention. Beginning early yesterday, the protests continued as 20 AIDS activists were arrested for staging a protest in Manhattan"s Grand Central Station. A small group of protesters followed Bush through the day as he made his way from the Waldorf Hotel to a New York Church to Madison Square Garden. In the evening there were a number of rallies, culminating in a street demonstration just outside the convention.

One of the largest events of the day yesterday took place in Harlem. It was a rally organized by Artists and Activists United for Peace. It"s focus was on many of the issues of great concern to many in Harlem—jobs, housing, healthcare, reparations and police brutality. Democracy Now! producer John Hamilton was there and prepared this montage.

  • Sounds and Voices of the rally in Harlem.

Some of the voices from yesterday’s rally in Harlem. Among the many speakers at the rally was activist Partha Banerjee of New Immigrant Community Empowerment.

  • Partha Banerjee of New Immigrant Community Empowerment speaking at the rally in Harlem.

Transcript

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

AMY GOODMAN: The Republican National Convention is wrapped up and so too have the mass protests that have rocked the city for a week. More than 1,700 people arrested, the largest number of arrests ever at a political convention. Beginning earlier yesterday the protests continued as 20 AIDS activists were arrested for staging a protest in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. A small group of protesters followed President Bush through the day as he made his way from the Waldorf Astoria to a New York church to Madison Square Garden. In the evening there were a number of rallies culminating in a street demonstration just outside the convention.

JUAN GONZALEZ: One of the largest events of the day took place in Harlem. It was a rally organized by Artists and Activists United for Peace. Its focus was on many of the issues of great concern to, of, through, residents of Harlem: jobs, housing, healthcare, reparations, and police brutality. Democracy Now! producer John Hamilton was there and he prepared this montage.

GLORIA: This is Gloria, and we’re at the Adam Clayton Powell Building on 125th Street, getting ready to move, I hope very soon, for a rally that was put together for Artists and Activists United for Peace. Basically we’re here, and we’re gonna be marching, basically 'cause as you all know, the RNC is here and we want to make it clear that they're here but we are here, as well. So that’s what we’re doing now and basically we’re looking forward to this, and also to show, again, the amount of activism there is in the Harlem community and among people of color 'cause I think that's been a really big issue, that people keep saying that we don’t get out onto the street, that we’re not there. And as far as I know, people of color have always been out on the street as long as, well, excuse me, as everyone else. So this is a way that we stand for our city and our government. It’s not just theirs, but it’s ours as well.

RICHARD MCKNIGHT: My name is Richard McKnight and we’re on 126th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard, in Harlem. There’s 51% African American unemployment in New York City. Harlem is a very big people of color community, so when they say 51% unemployment, we know that a large number of those people are here in Harlem. We know that there are city services that are being neglected in Harlem, there are firehouses that are closed, there’s lack of schools, and people are here to voice their opinions against the Bush agenda as well as to voice their opinions as to the lack of representation for the people of Harlem.

MONAMI MALIK: My name’s Monami Malik, and I’m with DRUM. Desis Rising Up and Moving. DRUM has been mobilizing with our membership for the past few days. We’ve been preparing for the RNC with our membership. We have over 300 members, family members of people being deported, people being deported and detainees as well. We started as early as June, when we sent out a survey of our members in detention centers in New York and New Jersey where we surveyed detainee members about what their voices and thoughts are about the elections, about the Bush administration, and what they wanted people on the outside to do in this time period. And so overwhelmingly our members in detention wrote us back saying that they wanted people to raise their voices however we can in the media, by marching and mobilizing, by voting, by using basically all tactics that we need to first get rid of the Bush Administration, but that it doesn’t end there, that we need to then hold whoever’s accountable, whoever’s in office accountable to stop the ongoing war on terrorism, and especially for us the war against immigrants.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices at Thursday’s protest in Harlem. Among the many speakers at the rally was Partha Banerjee of the New Immigrant Community Empowerment.

PARTHA BANERJEE: The thing that I really want to say to you is that, please know what exactly is going on with the lives of poor immigrants in New York City, especially since 9/11. As we speak right now, 200 immigrants, detainees, are rotting in Wackenhut Detention Center and going through a hunger strike. The problem, that crime they have committed: nothing, zero. They have no terrorism charges whatsoever on them. The only reason they have been put in prison indefinitely without any legal recourse is because they violated their visas. That is not a criminal offense, and that is why they have been rotting in jail, the various jails throughout the city, throughout the country, since 9/11. I’ll tell you some numbers. Right after 9/11, 2,000, more than 2,000, nobody knows exactly what the number is, but somehow some people estimate that some 2,000 people were rounded up from various parts of this country and including New York City and they were put in various detention centers. Nobody knew where they were. Their families went from jail to jail to look for their loved ones. They didn’t know where they were. They were not given any legal recourse, they were not given any due rights, and they were put and kept in various detention centers indefinitely. Many of them were brutally tortured, abused, violated. Right after that when Ashcroft passed the USA PATRIOT Act, because of the PATRIOT Act thousands of people were picked up. There was this new law called "special registration." What the registration did was that it mandated immigrants from 25 different countries, 24 of them Muslim countries plus North Korea, to register themselves with the federal government as if they were criminals. And when they actually went to register themselves the federal government detained and later put some 15,000 people under deportation order. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can go to the Department of Justice’s website and find out how many people actually went for special registration, and how many people were actually put in deportation orders. This is ridiculous! This is outrageous! This is United States of America. You know the history of civil rights movement. We are learning from you. You are our teachers, we are your students. We want to learn more from you. But my only appeal to you is that, please know what exactly is going on the immigrant people’s lives, and these are not terrorists, these are innocent people. For no crime of their own. They were not responsible for 9/11. We are all against terrorism, we are all against violence. But for no crime committed thousands and thousands of people are going through a very, very, very difficult time. Their families are destroyed, their homes are empty, they have been forced to go back to their home countries. Their children, who practically grew up in this country, they do not know where their parents came from, they do not even speak their parents’ languages, they are forced to go back to their home countries. This is outrageous! This is despicable! I implore you to come forward, yeah, and be a part of the immigrant solidarity movement and together we can succeed. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Partha Banerjee of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, speaking yesterday in Harlem.

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