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News :: DNC
New York's Alright: An Update on the RNC Protests
08 Jul 2004
08 Jul 2004 NEW YORK CITY- The RNC protests are going to be huge! Hundreds of thousands will flood the streets: Democrats toeing the party line, liberals of all stripes, and communists of all sects. Even “the UNIONS are coming”! The hip hop kids are coming, the college kids are coming, the Greens are coming, Al Sharpton’s coming, the NGOs, Starhwak, the libertarians and tons of assorted wing-nuts will make an appearance. And don’t forget the millions of New Yorkers who hate Bush or are simply pissed-off because they have to be inconvenienced by closed-off streets, delayed subway trains, or police barricades- they’ll be there too. And more power to them, right?
The question we have been hearing over and over again is: Are the anarchists coming? You bet your sweet ass we are! In fact we are already here and you should come too.
So here’s the skinny: Activists in the city have been organizing for over a year now and infrastructure is pretty much handled with a few exceptions - see below:


The No-RNC Clearinghouse: Meeting for a year, this has been a gathering of different collectives, groups and individuals planning actions. The amazing thing about the clearinghouse is that it has not yet become yet another three-letter coalition. They plan to morph into a Spokescouncil as the RNC comes near, but there is some resistance to this idea.

Food. You will not starve in NYC. The Anti-Capitalist Kitchen and Food Not Bombs are here, churches and community centers will be feeding folks too. Not to mention New York’s fine dumpsters. No anarchist will go hungry in NYC.

Legal will be handled in tandem by the National Lawyer’s Guild (lefty lawyers) and the NYC-People’s Law Collective (a local anarchist legal group.) Legal collectives from across North America are coming to help along with NYCLU, Center for Constitutional Rights and other national and local progressive legal organizations. They will have an office, street teams, legal observers and jail support.

Street Medical. The Medical Activists of New York (MANY) have been doing Medic trainings for the last year and will be doing street medical work along with several groups and individuals from across the region and country.

Art, and shows, and parties, and dancing, and other tomfoolery: The city will be awash with posters, puppets, costumes, radical cheers, music and our own version of the infamous infernal noise brigade! Lots of benefit shows of course, and a free continuous performance space for music, spoken word, theater, etc.

Web: is basically the best mobilization website for the US, period. KUDOS! Started by anarchists, it is a depository for information of all kinds.

Weaknesses: Space in general and housing in particular is our weak link. The housing situation is not sorted out. Don’t plan on being able to get hooked up with a place to crash at the last minute. Think ahead, call your friends, relatives and other people who can get you housing. We have handled big protests in the past, but it’s best for affinity groups to show up with their housing sorted out. New Yorkers can be stingy with their space, so be warned.

What to Expect: Not the “big plan”

We should all finally face it - there is no Big Plan. There will be dozens of events which stretch from small single issue protests to UFPJ’s undoubtedly massive, possibly lame, (permitted) march by Madison Square Garden. At present there is no intention to “shut down” the useless coronation of Bush at Madison Square Garden.

So what should anarchists expect action-wise? From the people here on the ground, the big rotten apple is wide open. There will be several, massive demonstrations. There will be the chance to confront Republicans in the Times Square Theatre district during “Chaos on Broadway” on Sunday the 30th . This is shaping up as the most interesting event of the week-end. There are tons of opprotunities for affinity group actions against the RNC and its capitalist cronies throughout the week-end. The city will provide the chaos - you should BYOA (Bring Your Own Action) and do some homework for it.

To bloc or not to bloc?

Thus far, there has been no call for a black bloc. For some, this is welcome news. Yet the ubiquitous black bloc communique may arrive on the scene at any moment. Regardless of the dress code, there will certainly be thousands of anarchists at the main demonstrations. Discuss the posssibilities of joining these different events with your affinity group.

As we learned from the World Economic Forum, the New York Police Department is successful in targeting black blocs, when they are isolated from the crowd. The sad truth is that when it’s just us as a black bloc, we usually get our asses kicked. This does not mean that autonomous direct action will not take place - it will; it just means that it isn’t the best idea to bloc-up and run the streets without some liberal crowd cover.

As far as the infamous NYC “Mask Law” goes, it is important to keep in perspective. The last folks to get arrested for it was over 4 years ago. It is also important to know that the dreaded mask law is actually part of the more general Loitering laws of the city. No one has been arrested for simply wearing a mask, there are always other charges. The cops can arrest us and think up the charges after the fact. Be smart, but do not be intimidated.

Meeting other Anarchists

We all know - the New York scene can be too big (or too small for some), or too fragmented, to easily meet everyone. So how can you hook-up with the ever-elusive anarchists in NYC? There will be a TRIBES meeting on Sunday, August 1st. It will be like an anarchist consulta. Anarchists from outside the city are welcome to attend and bring info back to their communities.

What else is going on:

§ RNC Clearinghouse Meeting is on August 12th, 7pm at St. Marks Church

§ The Bike National Convention begins on August 21st

§ a version of the Really Free Market on Sunday, August 22nd. ( and

§ many social, fun events throughout August under the banner of the Anarchist World’s Fair.

§ a gigantic anti-RNC Critical Mass on Friday, August 27th.

§ an anarchist contingent at the UFPJ march on Sunday, August 29th.

§ Spokescouncil meetings as the time draws near.

And don’t end up in jail and miss the post-convention party at Tompkins Square on Wednesday, September 2nd.

So you are coming, right? But when?

The main days of action will start with the Critical Mass on Friday and probably reach a peak on Sunday with the UFPJ march and the Chaos on Broadway in the evening. Numbers will decline, but should still be pretty big for the following few days.

The Tuesday call for “Million Yeses One No” is not being taken seriously by most local anarchists. For one thing, yelling doesn’t count as direct action. Realistically, most people will come to the weekend actions, and the numbers will drop for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Our experience with the arrest-o-ramas in simularly timed days in Philly and the WEF make this call unappealing and fraught with the threat of heavy police repression. The possible arrests of the previous days will no doubt sap our energy and resources, making the Tuesday actions seem to be at this point isolated and just plain stupid. Buyer beware.

Law Enforcement

There about 40,000 thousand cops in NYC and they will be reinforced by 1,000 feds (according to the media). We can only speculate what the cops’ plans are, but history suggests that the NYPD does not use tear gas, concussion grenades, the “electric shields” used in Miami and the other gadgets so common in other parts of the country. Most likely they will be using time tested techniques of crowd control. That means horses, metal pens and a shitload of uniformed cops. Look for more updates.

Local Support

Most New Yorkers are virulently anti-Republican. Whether or not serious numbers of people from across the city will throw down in the streets is a different matter. There is a possibility of a Quebec-like show of solidarity from locals. Will they be militant? It’s hard to tell. Will they be pissed? For sure. The liberals will certainly be marching around in circles, so at least there will be crowd cover.

Forget 9/11

Most New Yorkers have dealt with 9/11 in their own way. We are the least freaked out city in the country as far as terrorism goes. The giant marches against the Iraq war showed New York can and will continue to have mass mobilizations. The police and feds will no doubt have a scare campaign including code-orange style warnings before the protests. Don’t worry, people will come to protest. See you there!

The NYC Anarchist Grapevine is a loose knit of local anarchists who are not organizing against the RNC. We want to give you the real shit - accurate, useful information to fellow anarchists who are coming to town. We are not affiliated with any group. We will put-out more updates,as neccesary, as we get closer to the RNC. If there are any general questions you would like to see addressed in the next update please do not hesitate to e-mail us at nycanarchistgrapevine (at) (realizing of course our e-mail is monitored).

This work is in the public domain
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