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February 16, 2003

New York Says No to War

Near Rally site

View down First Avenue

It was a glorious day, bitter cold and wind burn included.

The city declared that no march would happen, so New Yorkers marched from all over the city and as they converged on the Upper East Side, trying to weave their way through police barricades, they ended up taking over not only First Avenue, but Second Avenue, Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue, while derailing traffic all over the East Side. Due to police blockades, many marchers on those side streets found themselves unable to move anywhere-- east, west, north or south--creating mass frustration.

You have to wonder at the stupidity of the anti-march edict which prevented the organizers from creating an orderly march in favor of this chaotic, far more dangerous and frustrating set of street takeovers and blockades. The crowd was in a good mood, largely cooperative with the police, so the consequences were minor, but if the crowd has turned nasty at being penned in by police incompetence in planning, the police would have had a situation of mass riots that they would have been unable to control.

On First Avenue, the march extended from 51st St. all the way to 72nd St. In fact, it would have extended much farther but the police ran out of the metal barricades to pen protesters in and began dismantling the pens in order to encourage them to crowd together rather than move beyond the twenty blocks they had occupied on 1st. More than half the crowd never made it onto First Avenue, stuck as they were on the other Avenues, but many could hear the rally being broadcast over WBAI.

Forget the police estimate of 100,000. Double the crowd shown in the picture above and it's not even in the realm of credibility. 300,000 to 400,000 marchers is pretty much the best guess but with all those turned away by the police on side avenues, it might have swelled even larger. It was the largest political rally in New York City since the 1 million person Nuclear Freeze march back in the early 1980s.

This is the city that suffered the attacks of 911, that saw loved ones die, their economy shredded and the heart of their skyline ripped out. And in mass numbers, that city said No to War, that war on Iraq will not make them feel safer, but will rather be a recruitment tool for more terrorism and more death.

And they were joined by millions more around the world.

Without question, a glorious day.

Posted by Nathan at February 16, 2003 08:31 AM

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