United for Peace and Justice, Today's Protestors are Mature, Artful, and Productive

Peaceful protest precedes opening of Republican National Convention


| August 2004


NEW YORK -- Crazed hooligans breaking windows, overturning cars and uprooting fire hydrants ... Anarchists from the heartland bombing media vans ... Street protestors harboring terrorists in their midst, threatening to unravel civil society!

These are scenes the Republican Party would love you to see on Fox News, heightening your state of panic and making you fear the throngs of youth who have taken to the streets like wild dogs this convention season.

But the United for Peace & Justice Coalition's enormous march in Manhattan yesterday that kicked off the icy reception the Republican Party will receive at its convention in New York this week did little to feed the conservatives' fire. Instead, hundreds of thousands of well-organized and peaceful activists stuck largely to their game plan as they left Union Square at noon, filed down 7th Avenue, and bypassed Madison Square Garden where the incumbents will re-nominate George W. Bush as the leader of the free world on Thursday, before returning to Union Square.

An organized, and potentially volatile sequel to the demonstrations never materialized in Central Park after the city denied protestors' the use of the Great Lawn. By 6 p.m. New York's famed urban park enjoyed the tranquility of a typical Sunday afternoon in the Big Apple. However, police did make dozens of arrests in a sudden and controversial sting operation in Times Square in the hours following the United for Peace & Justice march through lower Manhattan.

The march, itself, featured witty placards, emotional voices and sheer strength in numbers. Poignant and humorous signs included, 'Bush did what Osama could not. He united the world against us' ... 'Dick Cheney before Cheney dicks you.' ... 'Draft the Bush twins' ... 'Would Jesus strike 'preemptively?' NO!' ... 'Republicans cause cancer' ... 'Halliburton ?ber Alles' ... 'Stop Mad Cowboy Disease' ... 'My Bush smells like shit,' hung above a Whole Foods Market ... 'Emissions Accomplished' with smokestack spewing out toxins ... 'We will NOT be silenced!' with a picture of the Statue of Liberty with a bag over her head and her arms tied, reminiscent of Abu Ghraib ... a picture of Bush, saying, 'I resign, or is it resume?' ... even a sign proclaiming, 'Partying on a Graveyard' with a martini drinking, top hat-wearing Republican elephant dancing on Ground Zero wreckage.

But acts of creative street theater stole the show, with creative expressions suggesting that America's activist movement may have come of age.