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"Listen to the Voice of the People, for Many Times the Voice of the People Is the Voice of God!" South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu Entreats George Bush Before Hundreds of Thousands in NYC

StoryFebruary 17, 2003
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Hundreds of thousands of people protested here in New York City on Saturday.

It is impossible to know the exact number. The city denied organizers a permit to march all together, and police pinned demonstrators along side streets, preventing them from coming together at the stationary rally site near the United Nations.

So unknown hundreds of thousands stretched north from the stage along First Avenue, and hundreds of thousands more were forced to march along Second and Third Avenues.

New York Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin writes: "Looking down Third Avenue and Second Avenue, as the crowds came up to try to get to the rear of the great crowd on First Avenue, and then peering as far down First Avenue as you could see, the size of throngs caused you to tell yourself, "maybe a million." Whatever it was, out on the street it felt like a million, and it was glorious. A news photographer I know came along. "I’ve been everyplace. I have to say a million." Because of the Police Department’s reprehensible pens, the crowd was separated so that there was not one clear picture of an enormous group that would cause politicians here to faint."

(The Police Department is currently estimating only a hundred thousand turned out. But protest organizers say the police told them throughout the rally that the numbers were at least half a million. Organizers say there were between half a million and a million people there.)

Throughout the day, people broke through the barricades and took over the streets. Police arrested at least 250.

We’ll now go to the voices from Saturday’s protest.

We begin with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is internationally renowned for his non-violent campaign against the apartheid government of South Africa.

The son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker, Tutu became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978. In the 1980s, he was one of the leading spokesmen for non-violent resistance to apartheid. Archbishop Tutu led a campaign for an international boycott on South African goods, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the divestment campaign in 1984.

Tutu was elected Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985 and the Archbishop of Cape Town a year later. He retired from that office in 1996, but was immediately named Archbishop Emeritus.

In 1995, then-President Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu to chair South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Archbishop Tutu is the author of 'Crying in the Wilderness' and 'The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution'

Tape:

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, speaking in New York City on February 15, 2003.

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