MaltaMedia Click Here!
Toni Sant's Blog
  A blog from the MaltaMedia Online Network | LATEST BLOG | NEWS | WHAT'S ON | FEATURES | WEATHER | CONTACT TONI SANT

Sunday, August 29, 2004

An effervescing elephant

The Republican National Convention has come to New York. The convention will take place at Madison Square Garden until Thursday evening, when it comes to an end after George W. Bush accepts his party's nomination to run again for President of the United States.

I believe that the RNC has every right to come to NYC, but did you know that a recent survey by a Manhattan public relations company found 83 percent of those polled do not want the Republican convention in town? When asked why, more than half, 53 percent, were worried about traffic, street closures, and security hassles. So this is not just a partisan matter from an overtly liberal city resisting a conservative party in its midst. It is mostly a nuisance, to say the least, that such a high profile event is taking place in a town that already looks very much like a police state.

There are always protest marches and other such events by activists whenever a political convention takes place. As expected the level of protest for the RNC in NYC is phenomenal! It ranges from people who oppose the presence of the RNC here altogether to champions of liberal causes such as free speech, pro-choice, and anti-war movements.

Last night, my wife and I attended a wonderful service Rev. Billy by Reverend Billy at St. Mark's Church on the Bowery. Rev. Billy's Church of Stop Shopping was established several years ago. Besides the wonderful Reverend, most services feature the Stop Shopping Choir, which since the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by the US-led military forces has been renamed the Stop Bombing Choir and it is sometimes now also called the First Amendment Gospel Choir, in support of Rev. Billy's sermons against the Patriot Act.

One of the special guests at St. Mark's last night was my friend Ricardo Dominguez from the Electronic Disturbance Theatre who spoke about the chilling case of Dr. Steve Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble who is also an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Buffalo, New York. Last spring, Dr. Kurtz called 911 to report that his wife had passed away in her sleep. Rather than taking care of Mrs. Kurtz, the police arrested Dr. Kurtz who was subsequently indicted by the Federal Anti-Terror Police for possessing what they deemed biohazardous equipment. The charges were later dropped, but it should be emphasized that besides the inappropriate arrest and all that, a husband was robbed of the possibility of grieving his wife properly, in the name of anti-terror policing.

This afternoon, Reverend Billy has organized an outdoor ceremony on the side of the Great Lawn in Central Park, renewing people's wedding vows under the auspices of his Church of the First Amendment. I'd have loved to attend this event but because of all the fuss the NY Police Department has made about protesters not being allowed to demonstrate on the Great Lawn this week, I'm afraid that getting wrongfully arrested could mess up my private life substantially right now. I admit that this is a cowardly stance on my part but it's one of those instances where safe is so much better than sorry. Hundreds of arrests have already been made in the days prior to the official opening of the convention, tomorrow evening.

New York City is spending $25 million in security because of the RNC this week. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been assuring us for several weeks that all this is really good for the greatest city in the world. Yet the same poll I mentioned earlier found 70 percent are afraid to go to work this coming week because of security concerns. Tapping into the fear factor, other states are now trying to lure the 8 million residents of this city away for the week. What a great time for me to leave New York!

Protesters march in front of Madison Square Garden during the anti-Bush march organized by United for Peace and Justice in New York Sunday, August 29, 2004, on the eve of the Republican National Convention. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Post a Comment

<< Home