Next time you feel fear, Erin, either right after a major decision or just before one, it usually means you’re exactly where you need to be.
As we circle Union Square, about twenty NYPD officers haul out orange plastic nets (the kind used to fence off construction sites) and close off the road, diverting the crowd. But the detour, too, was closed, leaving us only one other option: straight down Broadway. The lighthearted carnival air begins to get very heavy as it becomes clear that we are being corralled. The main group, about 150 protesters, keeps on down the street, but the police are running behind with the orange nets, siphoning off groups of fifteen to twenty people at a time, classic crowd control.
A new group of police officers arrives in white shirts, as opposed to dark blue. These guys are completely undiscerning in their aggression. If someone gets in their way, they shove them headfirst into the nearest parked car, at which point the officers are immediately surrounded by camera phones and shouts of “Shame! Shame!”
Up until this point, Frank and I have managed to stay ahead of the nets, but as we hit what I think is 12th Street, they’ve caught up. The blue-shirts aren’t being too forceful, so we manage to run free, but stay behind to see what happens. Then things go nuts.
The white-shirted cops are shouting at us to get off the street as they corral us onto the sidewalk. One African American man gets on the curb but refuses to be pushed up against the wall of the building; they throw him into the street, and five cops tackle him. As he’s being cuffed, a white kid with a video camera asks him “What’s your name?! What’s your name?!” One of the blue-shirted cops thinks he’s too close and gives him a little shove. A white-shirt sees this, grabs the kid and without hesitation billy-clubs him in the stomach.
At this point, the crowd of twenty or so caught in the orange fence is shouting “Shame! Shame! Who are you protecting?! YOU are the 99 percent! You’re fighting your own people!” A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream “No! Why are you doing that?!” The rest of us in the crowd turn away to avoid the spray, but it’s unavoidable. My left eye burns and goes blind and tears start streaming down my face. Frank grabs my arm and shoves us through the small gap between the orange fence and the brick wall while everyone stares in shock and horror at the two girls on the ground and two more doubled over screaming as their eyes ooze. In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, “I can’t believe he just fuckin’ maced her.” And it becomes clear that the white-shirts are a different species. We need to get out of there.” —
Jesus H. Christ.
An atrocious abuse of power.
Somehow, even after a decade in this town, I find myself wandering the streets with my eyes lit up in awe, a smile tugging at my cheeks, a glow in my chest - still amazed at just how beautiful and vibrant and wondrous it really is. I marvel at the pulse of life that courses through its concrete veins and have to quell the urge to wrap my arms around it in a big juicy bear-hug. New York you are magical and all I can do it float through you with delight. I love you.
Confronting Disappointment September 7, 2011 : 2:30 PM
On Friday afternoon, as brave and committed activists continued their non-violent civil disobedience outside the White House in protest of the tar sands pipeline that would lead to a massive increase in global warming pollution, President Obama ordered the EPA to abandon its pursuit of new curbs on emissions that worsens disease-causing smog in US cities. Earlier this year, the EPA’s administrator, Lisa Jackson, wrote that the levels of pollution now permitted — put in place by the Bush-Cheney administration— are “not legally defensible.” Those very same rules have now been embraced by the Obama White House.
Instead of relying on science, President Obama appears to have bowed to pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing new restrictions on their harmful pollution—even though economists have shown that the US economy would benefit from the job creating investments associated with implementing the new technology. The result of the White House’s action will be increased medical bills for seniors with lung disease, more children developing asthma, and the continued degradation of our air quality.” —Al Gore