100,000 March Against
War In New York City

By Ed Meyer

What a great day for New York City, today. More than 100,000 anti-war protesters walked from Times Square to Washington Square Park (about 4 miles or so). Nothing could possibly have been more peaceful. There is no word that can better express the day other than 'harmony.' The one thing that held this harmony together was the peacefulness of everyone there, most certainly the NYPD.
I've walked in antiwar demonstrations in the '60,s both in NY and DC. For sure, the noisiest was in DC with millions of protesters screaming at the top of their lungs. In NY today, the crowd ranged from early 20,s to early seventies with more young folk than old, but everyone was dedicated to peace in NY (except for 47 others I'll mention later).
We didn't have as many banners as other cities and we may have been quieter. But people just wanted to be there. There were a few pro-warriors here and there, but most onlookers were just happy to see how peaceful everything went.
The police were certainly doing their jobs watching as many people as they could to identify violent nut-jobs. They didn,t find any, but the police did what they are paid to do. Most 'boys (and girls) in blue' seemed very confident that this was a peaceful crowd and there was nothing to worry about. It was just another parade by NYC standards.
I took several pictures of the march, but as you might already be able to tell, I spent most of the time watching the NYPD. It was such a show to watch their eyes, the look on their faces and their demeanor. We were there to protest a war. They were there because they were assigned to be there. Don't forget, they are all entitled to their own political opinions. You could tell some were with us, some were with the Bush administration, and some were just there to do their jobs. But there seemed to be some kind of a competition going on. The protestors were doing everything possible to be peaceful. The NYPD seemed to want to outdo the protestors, being more peaceful than the protestors. As it turned out, the NYPD may have won the competition.
A lot of the many drummers who participated in the parade (okay, call it a march) wanted to continue playing as they arrived at Washington Square Park. They were supposed to disperse as the permit only included a parade and not an assembly at the end of the march. The NYPD couldn't be more accommodating. Some drum companies played for more than a half-hour after arriving at the park. When the situation became space-critical, about 20 officers wearing helmets and carrying plastic handcuffs would march to the area, disperse the crowd and go back to their staging point.
After all the marchers had reached the park, a group of drummers and chanters continued to play their music and chant for about an hour and a half. The NYPD moved a speaker truck into the area blasting a recorded announcement to the marchers to leave the street and, if they wanted to, to enter the park. The speakers blasted for about an hour before the helmeted officers dispersed the crowd. This is where the bulk of the 47 got arrested. Nobody could have worked harder to get arrested than these protestors.
I spent an incredible amount of time telling various police personnel that I was so pleased at the way they handled this protest march. I intend to send a copy of this to NYC Mayor Bloomberg.
The greatest part of this story is that NYC is the place where its greatest architectural monument, the World Trade Center, was destroyed with nearly 3000 New Yorkers killed just a year and a half ago. Today may have been one of the greatest days of my life. New York City has suffered so much, yet this city had so much to give. I really think the 47 people who were arrested really missed the boat today. But they were only 47 out of 100,000 decent, caring protestors and an untold number of observers and government workers.
I was very proud to be there and see the true greatness of New York City, its people and its government.



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