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Commentary :: Organizing : Politics
The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
31 Aug 2004
NEW YORK CITY- A half a million people marched by the Fortified and Republo-filled Madison Square Gardens today, and many felt the conspicuous absence of a rallying point. Tolu Olupna, a NYC resident, felt that the march was “disorganized,” because of the lack of a rally space. “I would love to be listening to speeches right now,” Olupna said as she sat in the shade at Union Square with other marchers uncertain about just where to go.
But requests for a permit to rally on the Great Lawn were finally denied by the New York State Supreme Court. UfPJ officially asked people not to march to Central Park. After a long and inspiring march, a focusing point is a positive thing, it is a place to get out the message, a place to talk and connect with people. UfPJ didn’t win a permit, but does that mean that they should also act to discourage people from assembling anyway?
The Long Arm of the UfPJ? +RNC Photos
An article on the UfPJ website explained their reasoning:

“We are committed to having a safe, legal protest march, that anyone and everyone can attend - kids, seniors, immigrants, people with disabilities. We therefore are NOT leading our march to Central Park, and we ask everyone who plans to participate in our march to respect our desire for a safe and legal event, and not to organize breakaway marches from it to the Park.”

As the “legal” march negotiated with the city neared it’s end UfPJ “marshals” urged protestors to disperse with bullhorns. On 19th street they herded protestors towards Broadway, away from the park, using steel gates, effectively splitting up the march and coercing people to leave the area. But each time they made their bullhorn announcements random voices from the crowd cried “Central Park!” The owners of those voices and others made for the subway gates.

At the Lawn later in the day tens of thousands showed up to claim their right to assembly. The randomness of the gathering and the collective conviction in the freedom of assembly created an atmosphere that a “legal” rally could not have mustered. Street theater and puppet groups improvised their acts, the billionaires marching band walked off the job and joined up with a troupe of drummers, several people were suddenly half-nude and dancing. I don’t mean to say something so sappy as “everyone was jamming together on one vibe and it was a truly enlightening experience!” But there is something incredible in a crowd when they feel they are standing up to the authorities and winning, even if it is in a small way such as this statement supporting our freedom to express ourselves and assemble in public.

“Ultimately, freedom of speech means freedom of speech. No one should bother us, including the helicopter above.” Said Bob Armstrong of Jersey City, NJ.

Perhaps this “unlawful” gathering is a hint of what is possible, of what might be inevitable, in the future of large American demonstrations. Foregoing the whole permitting process and rejecting the controls the government we criticize tries to put on our freedom of speech. Regardless of where individuals on the lawn fell on the political spectrum, from Radical to Democrat to Hardcore Billionaire Republican, regardless of their age, race or ability (of which all points of the spectrums were represented including families with children), none seemed to be the least bit concerned about participating in an un-permitted rally. Magdely La Monte, 16 years old, was incredulous,

“What are we doing wrong? I mean, what are they gonna do, take away our rights?” she asked. And what would NYPD do if a large group, such as UfPJ, were to challenge a unconstitutional decision such as New York’s refusal to allow a rally on the Great Lawn? What would happen to UfPJ if they did challenge the city and actually encouraged people to extend the march to the Great Lawn? If arrests were made, could the courts convict us? Would Americans be arrested for stepping on grass?

Organizers of an anti-war movement, or any socially conscious movement that advocates humanity, is not necessarily bound by the city permitting process in order to practice non-violence. History has shown that the interpretation of the first amendment is bent in times of national “emergencies” such as the red scare in the 20’s, McCarthyism in the 50’s, Vietnam in the 70’s and now the war on terror. In their rush to prevent any type of confrontation with the authorities organizers can, as in the case of UfPJ this week, allow the authorities to pressure them into situations that harm the effectiveness of their own demonstrations and the movement as a whole. On the ground, at the marches, the UfPJ “Marshals” herd protestors as if the people do not have a voice or a mind of their own. In effect, they become peddlers of control. In a circular process they prove their ability to control, win more permits for large rallies, and then direct more energy back into control tactics. Helping to keep a march peaceful is an important and necessary task. But when the authorities yank on UfPJ's chain and the group not only obeys, but encourages others to obey as well, instead of standing by our constitutional rights, the organizational structure of the UfPJ must come into question.
The Long Arm of the UfPJ? +RNC Photos
The Long Arm of the UfPJ? +RNC Photos
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30 Aug 2004
Good Pictures! Good Americans! Good March! Everything went good!

Now Vote! November 2nd. DUMP BUSH!
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
30 Aug 2004
Do more than just vote! Get active.
A note on the numbers
31 Aug 2004
I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I saw mainstream and international press reporting that in the neighborhood of 100,000 were at the rally. The New York Post didn't even give it that much, they reported "in the tens of thousands!" What you see in the picture was a very small fraction of the march. Imagine staying at that vantage point for six hours while the people march by below. For that entire six hours, the scene would remain essentially the same, packed streets.
Look at the faces look at the people (lol)
31 Aug 2004
Look at the faces of the people around the tank effigy. Look at the band members playing instruments, look at the wacky wymen all dressed in pink!!!

This isnt an RNC protest this is the first annual DORKS parade. What a gang of solem faced dorks. Have fun losers, and get ready for 4 more years of the Great George "Dubya" W. Bush.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
31 Aug 2004
Thanks for the photos. I'm proud to have been a part of Sunday's March, and grateful for the delis which stayed open along the route.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
31 Aug 2004
I certainly agree with you, Pete, that it will be necessary to break the law to reclaim our civil liberties, to say nothing of ending our current imperial ventures, coporate globalization, the assault on unions, the welfare system, affirmative action, reproductive rights, etc. Indeed, social justice movements have never gotten very far without being willing to break the law and take direct action.

On the other hand, I think UfPJ's concerns are legitimate. There are people who can't afford to get arrested for any number of reasons--they need to hold onto their job so they can support their family, they're an immigrant who might get deported. Some people are at higher risk than others when they get arrested--people of color and people who "look" queer are far more likely to face severe abuse at the hands of the police than white people and straight people. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted by the police. When a group declares that a march is going to be legal in order to make it safer for folks like this (not that saefty is gauranteed--the police have arrested people engaging in legal protest), that should be respected. To dismiss these concerns is to be oblivious to how one's own privilege protects one. Not that some of these people from more vulnerable groups might not choose to be take illegal, direct action--but it has to be their choice. Taking illegal action in the middle of a legal action forces that choice on people, which is not cool. Not that I think going to Central Park was a bad idea--it didn't force people into an illegal situation that they didn't want to be. My point is that UfPJ did have legitimate concerns--and if they hadn't tried to discourage people from going to Central Park, the police may have engaged in mass arrests. Perhaps UfPJ overreacted, but comparing them to cops (as the phrase "long arm" does) is really unfair.

Additionally, legal marches are not bad things. In combination with nonviolent direct action, they can create a powerful synergy. Nonviolent direct action supplies the coercion we need to use if we're going to make the elite give into our demands, while the legal march provides a more respectable face fore the movement in the mass media, something for people to initially identify with. Both are necessary. For an interesting article about this in relation to the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle, see .
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
31 Aug 2004
Hmm, I'm realizing that last post may have been a bit harsh. I was reacting as much to the tendency among a lot of radicals to blindly advocate militant action, without considering the context or how it affects different people, and then to demonize peopel organizing legal protests as part of the enemy, as much as anything you actually said, Pete.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
01 Sep 2004
Didn't tbhe director of UfPJ also say that she'd be going to the park afterwards "for a picnic" and that she urged others to do so? I disagree with UfPJ's decision not to go to the Park, but they were clearly trying hard to mantain a balance. Failing to mention this eferring the "the long arm of UfPJ" as if they're cops strikes me as more-radical-than-thou posturing.

Matt Williams, I don't think that your first post was too harsh at all.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
01 Sep 2004

New York: Reports of Widespread Police Abuse Filter In
Posted Aug 31, 2004 03:56 PM PST


See this article here:

New York: Reports of Widespread Police Abuse Filter In

NYC Indymedia | August 31 2004

Listen to Anoise radio, updates on police abuse live in New York at

06:51 PM At 42nd and 6th people are sitting down in the middle of the street to protest the mass arrests. They are being arrested one by one. Police are reportedly trying to arrest medics to prevent them from providing care to protesters.

06:41 PM Protesters leaving Union Sq. are heading north on 8th avenue approaching 28th. Cops have constructed wire cages in the street, riot cops approaching behind them, undercovers following behind them on scooters.

06:38 PM There are currently 400 people at Herald Square, where Republicans are speaking - giving interviews to networks. Riot cops are amassing.

06:30 PM Marches are converging around Herald Square at 34th and 6th, heading towards the Garden. There are reports of police violence there. Multiple busses of riot police are around 32nd / 34th and 6th. Several police reportedly are not wearing badge numbers. Mass arrests are now occuring in Harold Square.

06:26 PM At the NY Public Library, an older woman was hit in the face by an undercover cop, shocking those who witnessed the incident. Cops would not arrest the man despite the attempts of the woman who was struck.

06:20 PM Protesters from the library are at 42nd and 6th. 40 cops on scooters ran after protesters with nets. Apx. 50 have been entrapped with nets. Police attacked protesters within the nets. Reports of a cop using a bike to hit someone. Several hundred are in the surrounding area.

We are behind you people who are standing up
for our Civil Liberties.
Here is a blog of mine
that anyone can post on:

Send in pictures to Michael Rivero's website
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
01 Sep 2004
Saying you will go have a "picnic at the park" is a far cry from organizing a march to the park to stand up for our rights. At the end of the march UfPJ volunteers asked people to disperse, and as much as people harassed them to do so, they would not announce anything about central park over their megaphones. The numbers at the park were nowhere near the numbers at the march, and there were no speeches at the park, so in effect the impromptu rally at the park did not really test our ability to assemble there for a rally, nor did it challenge the city directly.

The UfPJ's own initiative to "protect" some of the so called "at-risk" folks who came is really patronizing. While it is true some people face more risk from being arrested, no one group can assume that they speak for another. Perhaps those "at-risk" people are willing to risk arrest despite their greater vulnerability, in support of an important cause. The very least the UfPJ could have done was gave people a choice to go to the park over the bullhorns and the PA system at union square. In fact, that who are willing to face arrest should be given every aid in defending our first amendment rights for the very same reason UfPJ states they did not organize a park rally, to defend those "at risk".

As it is, the UfPJ has become a pseudo police force at the marches they organize, and they act in a manner very similar. Just to test their attitude I tried to walk into Union Square park through the UfPJ cattle fence at the end of the march near 19th and Broadway. Several of them actually threatened to kick my ass. If that ain't a clear example of deciding whats right for the people without asking them and being an extension of the police force, I don't know what is.
Kerry campaign abandoning ship
01 Sep 2004
John Forbes Kerry Heinz today shook up his campaign staff by firing several key people and replaced them with new faces in an effort to keep his languishing campaign from sinking like a swift boat after hitting a Viet Cong mine.

As can be expected Kerry has already abandoned ship and prepared an after action report crediting himself as a selfless hero and placing the blame on his staff. As Kerry paddles to safety in his life raft of excuses and blames leaving his staff behind on his sinking ship.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
01 Sep 2004
the idea of UFJP or ANSWER "protest police" is really patronizing, annoying, and dangerous sometimes. Where do these people get off telling others where they can and cannot protest? It's one thing to announce over the loudspeakers "we do not have a permit to march on central park, do so at your own risk." It's another for them to be complete assholes about it.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
01 Sep 2004
It sounds like UfPJ may have overreacted, as I said. But everyone makes mistakes. I could see myself doing something similar in a similar situation. Once you're caught up in the logic of organizing a certain way, it's hard to break out of it. Constructive criticism of other activist groups is certainly appropriate--comparing them to cops is really unfair. I must say, I've never understood the antipathy so many radicals have to marshalls or peacekeepers or whatever you want to call them at marches. I'm sure they overreact sometimes (threatening to beat other marches up is certainly a case of that), but I don't see anything wrong with them in principle. If someone tried taking on that role during a direct action, that would be totally out of line--but a legal march is an entirely different creature. And there are good reasons for wanting to keep illegal actions (like break away marches) clearly separate from legal ones--if the police decide to arrest people on an illegal break away march, there's no guarantee they're going to stop with them and not target the people who thought they were involved with something legal and relatively safe.
Your Boy Clinton
02 Sep 2004
Interesting that you have a picture of someone dressed as a bomb with the slogan "Drop Bush not Bombs" while your boy Clinton dropped plenty on the in Kosovo and Bosnia. Your boy Kerry also admits that he committed war crimes such as killing civilians.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
02 Sep 2004
when I say "protest police," i'm not comparing them to cops. they have decided to act as police-like authorities. By the way, ANSWER's protest police have pushed people into dangerous altercations with real cops, leading to arrests, in march 03. They also tend to get just as pushy and violent as regular cops (thank god they don't have guns), as seen in NYC.

Sandy- Don't assume that opposition to Bush means support of Kerry and/or Clinton. For many it does, for many it doesn't.
Clinton Cronies
02 Sep 2004
And what about the fact that you do not speak out about Clinton?
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
02 Sep 2004
I'm not always impressed by UfJP's organizing, but didn't mind seeing their marshals on Sunday. I got kind of spooked by the scare tactics announced by the cops last week (sonic crowd control devices, 24-hour surveillance of organizers, etc.) and was nervous about right wing provocations. The heat on Seventh Avenue and the size of the march would have contributed to a panic mentality if things hadn't been kept peaceful.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
02 Sep 2004
Sandy--Clinton isn't president any more. When he was, there were plenty of us out there protesting against his war-mongering in the Balkans and Iraq. And though some of us would prefer to see Kerry as president, it's only as the lesser of two evils. None of us on the left are fans of his.
Record 1800 Arrests! (Surpassing 1968)
03 Sep 2004
RNC broke record on protest arrests! (They should be proud of themselves.)
Good News?
Last time a record bust of protesters took place? 1968 Democratic Convention.
Demo lost!
If history repeats itself. Which it does.
Bye Draft-dodgin', lyin', conivin', fake Texan! (Besides, makin' a shit load of money from his Iraqi lie! And killin', and wounding thousands of innocent civilians and troops.)
To you Repubs?
03 Sep 2004
Service in the National Guard is not Draft Dodging. Nor was service in the Coast Guard, service in the Strategic Command nuclear bunkers (they never went to Vietnam) Nor was service at the Fulda Gap in Germany, or in Okinawa, or Guam. You people are Democrat Hacks with Democrat talking points. You have no independent thoughts. So here is an example of e REAL draft dodger and war monger. Bill Clinton ACTUALLY dodged the draft. Then throughout the 1990s he waged a series of illegal wars against countries that did not attck us nor pose any danger. Here is a partial list: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Macedonia, Iraq, Sudan, Colombia, Kosovo. Thousands of civilians were killed. It was under Clinton that Haliburton, a major DNC and Clinton contributor, received preferred vendor status so that it could receive no-bid government contracts. Clinton's campaign and the Democrat National Committee made big bucks from Haliburton. yet, you give Clinton a pass. Matthew will probably censor this post so read it quickly!!
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
03 Sep 2004
Service in the National Guard is draft dodging if it is arranged by a family friend to keep you stateside during a war.

One of the strange characteristics of Bush's apologists is that they feverishly try to tie around our necks the same albatrosses which they wear on theirs. Does Clinton's bombing of civilians in Serbia justify Bush's bombing of wedding parties in Afghanistan and Iraq? Does Clinton's use of Halliburton justify the current war profiteering of Cheney and Richard Perle? C'mon. That's like saying, "compared to Jimmy Hoffa, Whitey Bulger really isn't a bad guy."

When Bush and Gore debated at UMass Boston in 2000, there were protestors with signs showing how much each of them had taken in campaign contributions from major corporations. The lists for the two candidates were very similar. We know that Clinton and Gore were corrupt; it doesn't change the fact that Bush is guilty of far worse.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
03 Sep 2004
Pete, have you ever organized anything? It's real easy to critique from teh sidelines. As for the bit about UfPJ being patronizing, ahve you considered that UfPJ has a lot of members of color who may have wanted to keep things safe? When folks at the march against the BioLab in Boston set out a set of guidelines, did you say that they were "patronizing" for trying to keep epopel from otuside their community from fucking things up? Just get off it, okay?
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
03 Sep 2004
Sorry, that last post was just cranky. But Pete, I still wonder what organizing experience you have. Your condemnations are so broad as to be unproductive. UfPJ DID cover their own asses (in the face of a court order), but you could have walked up to the park perfectly easily. And thousands did. I repeat that to erfer to "the long arm of UfPJ" is just obnoxious.

I'd also add that UfPJ was out there protesting the situation of detainees at Pier 57, and that many UfPJ members were among those arrested Sunday and afterwards. I don't see you as having posted anything about it...
Wrong Again
04 Sep 2004
If Bush were really trying to dodge the draft, he would not have signed up to fly F-105 fighter jets. Air National Guard F-105s were routinely sent to Vietnam. Know your facts before you write Pete. I want to hear you condemn Clinton's war profiteering and the Democratic National Committee's profiteering by giving a virtual war monopoly to Haliburton during the 1990s. I want to hear you condemn your candidate John Kerry's admitted war crimes during the Vietnam War. This is the party that you want to see in power. Remember, it was the Democrat party that got us into Vietnam in the first place. But as for the National Guard, get your facts straight. Air National Guard F-105 pilots were routinely rotated through to Vietnam in addition to their 24/7 mission to intercept Soviet aircraft. You seem to forget that there was also a cold war going on. But then again, I'll wager that you thought that we were on the wrong side of that one too.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
04 Sep 2004
to Come on, But I'm too afraid to write my name on indymedia- I have never organized a major march, I am a member of the media. I have don tons of work for indymedia including organizing volunteers and helping to publish our first paper. If it was a requirement to have done everything that a journalist wants to criticize, no one would ever criticize the president! That argument doesn't hold water. And after participating in several marches in the past, and being present during the organizing surrounding A16 in 2000, the DNC here and countless smaller protests I think I am qualified to make criticisms and suggestions. In fact I think anybody who participated is qualified simply for the reason that they were there and experienced what it was like to be in the march.

to Publico- Where are you at man? I never said a damn thing about Bush, this article is about the march. But just for the record Clinton, Kerry, and Bush can all go f themselves. None of them truly represent Americans. It's our electoral system that's at fault.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
05 Sep 2004
Come on ... But ... actually has a point. (And I, for one, don't care if people use their real names or not.) Everyone should, of course, feel free to critique UfPJ (in a friendly way--we are all in this struggle together, even when we have disagreements), but having been an organizer in the past does give you a different perspective. I have helped organize marches in the past (although nothing nearly as big) and I've made a similar mistake to the UfPJ organizers--I've been too controlling because those of us who organized the protest wanted it to be a particular way, to have a particular message and people were showing up with signs that were just not what we had in mind--so we asked them to take them down. Looking back, that was a big mistake--but it's a really easy one to make in that situation. That's why I have a fair amount of sympathy for the UfPJ organizers, even if they did screw up--I've been there. For someone who hasn't been there, it would probably help to try to put yourself in their shoes, try to wrap your mind around the psychological and social dynamics of the situation when you make your criticsm--it'll probably be more friendly and nuanced then.
Sorry Pete
05 Sep 2004
Sorry Pete. I meant to reference Albatross. My bad.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
05 Sep 2004
Thank you, Matt W--my point exactly. Pete, no one is questioning your right to say whatever you want, (though "I've never organized a maror march--I am a journalist" sets up a problematic dichotomy), but it does hold a lot more water if you take into account the challenges one deals with when organizing a large event. And as I said, you didn't do so. In fact, you avoided (and continue to avoid) mentioning UfPJ's support for arrestees. Your arguments that it is patronizing for UfPJ to have tried not to put more targetted groups at risk also made some broad assumptions about who was involved in the organizing process. Since you weren't involved in the organizing process, I assume that this is pure conjecture--hardly the stuff of reporting.
06 Sep 2004
Here is a history lesson for the radicals. Bill Clinton gave Halliburton preferred vendor status in return for large donations to him and to the DNC. What does this mean? It means that Clinton, not Bush, was responsible for Halliburton's monopoly on government contracts.
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
07 Sep 2004
Yeah, publico. He's clearly censoring you here in your accusations and your unfounded statement that Clinton is the one who gave Halliburton their insider access (though I suspect that most people reading this wouldn't be surprised--most of us aren't too fond of corporate ass-kissing from either major party).
Re: The Long Arm of the UfPJ? (and RNC Photos)
25 Sep 2005
Yes, Bush got into the Guard through favors that arranged for him to have a degree, perfect eyesight and balance and the ability to pass a flight physical so he could serve in a unit that had already deployed once to Vietnam.

Bush is a veteran. Kerry is a veteran. Reagan was a veteran. JFK was a veteran. Civilian pussies certainly have a constitutional right to discuss it, but veterans also have a right to ignore your panty-pissing.

Best company for the job says Bill Clinton.

In 1997, when LOGCAP was again put up for bid, Halliburton/Brown & Root lost
the competition to another contractor, Dyncorp. But the Clinton Defense
Department, rather than switch from Halliburton to Dyncorp, elected to award
a separate, sole-source contract to Halliburton/Brown & Root to continue its
work in the Balkans. According to a later GAO study, the Army made the
choice because 1) Brown & Root had already acquired extensive knowledge of
how to work in the area; 2) the company "had demonstrated the ability to
support the operation"; and 3) changing contractors would have been costly.
The Army's sole-source Bosnia contract with Brown & Root lasted until 1999.
At that time, the Clinton Defense Department conducted full-scale
competitive bidding for a new contract. The winner was . . .
Halliburton/Brown & Root. The company continued its work in Bosnia

That work received favorable notices throughout the Clinton administration.
For example, Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review mentioned
Halliburton's performance in its Report on Reinventing the Department of
Defense, issued in September 1996. In a section titled "Outsourcing of
Logistics Allows Combat Troops to Stick to Basics," Gore's
reinventing-government team favorably mentioned LOGCAP, the cost-plus-award
system, and Brown & Root, which the report said provided "basic life support
services - food, water, sanitation, shelter, and laundry; and the full realm
of logistics services - transportation, electrical, hazardous materials
collection and disposal, fuel delivery, airfield and seaport operations, and
road maintenance."

Plenty of Google items in that "alleged and undocumented" item. I got 21,000 hits for Clinton Bosnia Haliburton (it's spelled with one L, btw, ignoramuses).

And I didn't vote for Bush, and absolutely support your right to protest without license. That's what free speech is all about. Just don't get so busy with conspiracies and distractions you miss the picture.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

That man is Karl Rove, who caused a hurricane to hit so Haliburton could have a contract, appointed "right winger" Alan Greenspan under Clinton, and secretly runs a time machine to organize Bechtel's 1987 contract in Iraq.

Now, I'm going to do something about free speech and abuse of civil rights. Pardon me if I step on your heads if you're in the way.