Sunday, November 12, 2006

THE POLITICAL BODY

February 15, 2003: By this date I had heard the word Orange Alert one too many times. Fear had crept in where it never had before. I had pictured the possibility of the (huge, upcoming) Anti-War protest--for which New Yorkers were not being granted a marching permit--getting bombed by our government while we gathered conveniently in one mass. I didn’t believe in Homeland Security’s Code Yellow Orange Purple Blue, I was sure they were made up by the government to scare us in the first place. So why not take it one step farther and forewarn us about the fear we should have of the people doing the warning? (Warning: Paranoia is a progressive disease. Further: 1010 WINS news radio is addictive to no good end.)

February 15, 2003: Brooklyn: I am down for the count with the flu. I am scared for my friends who are headed by subway for East Midtown (like I was scared for my mother gardening under heat lightning in the Virginia summers). I am being evicted from my apartment in 16 days but I don’t yet have a new home. I am sick in bed but I don’t have a bed; the boy-cat, who doesn’t like the idea of being evicted, has nervously peed two hand-me-down futons and a box spring. I have dragged them to the curb methodically, dramatically; stubbornly, I have not replaced them. I am laying sick in a “bed” which is a large cardboard box split open and spread across my futon frame. It is surprisingly comfortable yet condusive to abundant self-pity nonetheless.

February 15, 2003: It is sunny and bitterly cold in New York City. I turn on WBAI’s all-day coverage of the protest and I am renewed in my love of my comrades, and in my anger at the blind anger of war. I furiously take notes from the broadcast. Fear dissipates. My enthusiasm returns.

February 15, 2003: (From my notes of the WBAI coverage, much abridged but in chronological order):

“An Afghani woman just testified that the Northern Alliance is scarcely less misogynist or fundamentalist than the Taliban.”

“The September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows visited families that were victims of U.S.bombing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“Police on horseback trying to disperse the crowd at 2nd Avenue and 53rd Street--the correspondent says that 3rd Avenue is solid with people for 10-13 blocks. The main rally is on 1st Avenue--from 49th Street to at least 58th Street.”

“Israeli officer who refuses--along with 500 others--to serve in the occupied territories.”

“Al Sharpton--'[Bush] is not pursuing SECURITY but a Manifest Destiny that will put the whole world at risk.’ ”

“52nd--to 72nd--1st Avenue is filled for a whole mile!”

“(Richard?) Perez, police brutality activist: ‘When Guiliani took office, the juvenile arrest rate went up by 100,000 a year....In Vietnam they said, ‘We have to destroy a village to save it.’ Now they say, ‘We have to take away your Constitutional rights to make you safe.’...Many of those in Riker’s Island are there because they can’t pay bail--because they’re poor....”

“Ossie Davis, introducing Desmond Tutu: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ "

“Desmond Tutu: ‘You’re all just WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL people!...God is proud of you,God is smiling!...God says, Hey, aren’t they neat!...for coming out when it’s not-so-warm (laughter from the crowd).”

“(Leslie?) (Cagan?), organizer of the event: ‘Shame on the City of New York! Shame on the police department! Shame on the court! The people WILL be heard!’ ”

“Arhundati Roy--’The U.S. government’s war to PROMOTE terrorism has launched two assaults: a military assault on the Middle East, and an assault on the inetlligence of the human race....Let us turn every bomb that has been dropped onto Iraq into an opportunity to expose the criminals behind them because they are baby-killers, water-poisoners.’ ”

“1st Avenue filled to 87th Street! It’s 2:30pm.”

“Comments from the crowd keep reaching us that ‘this feels more like fascism than democracy.’ ”

“2nd Avenue--packed from 49th Street to 69th Street!”

“One woman was pushed by the police until she was pushed to the ground--police driving their horses onto the sidewalk, into the crowd, pushing people up against police vehicles with the horses.”

“Afghani woman--‘If you want to end terrorism, stop all funding to fundamentalists and terrorist groups worldwide.’ ”

“anti-war demonstrations in 600+ cities in 60 countries, every continent but Anarctica.”

“500,000+ people!! 59 blocks of people! Some estimate 700,000-1 million! I feel much better than I did even this morning (very sick yesterday), I have an inkling to go, even for an hour, to witness it, but I still feel quite weak.”

“Angela Davis: ‘New York City’s refusal to grant a march permit is a TRAVESTY to democracy. ... We oppose the Patriot Act and other legislation that targets our immigrants...The Bush administration tries to generate fear and hysteria--Tom Delay tried to start a national march to the hardware store to buy plastic tarp and duct tape...This administration’s discourse is fundamentalist in its impulse and designed to stop critical thinking....Our voices, our hearts DO make a difference...when we UNITE for peace and justice.’ ”

“Danny Glover: ‘[we have] an administration of liars and murderers whose villany and greed is insatiable and who curse us for standing here against their tyranny....Paul Robeson would be proud of us for standing here, and he would tell us that we are climbing Jacob’s Ladder.’ ”

“London had 1 million demonstrators, then 500,000 stayed for a sit-in through the evening.”

“Police keep using the horses to push people when there’s no place to go--people are trying to get to the side streets to prevent being hurt by the horses. ‘Horses for peace! Not for war!’ “

“The police surrounded a youth march from Union Square--they started letting them go 2, 3, 4, 5 at a time--so they get separated from each other.”

“Report from 47th and 7th Ave--people can’t get to 42nd where there’s a bigger rally--police in riot gear.”

“Barbara Stokely (union rep): ‘We have the power to stop this war, to remove that fraudulent President Bush....The transit workers were on the verge of shutting this city down.’ ”

“Vietnam vet (A.C. Byrd? Barrett?)--in interview--‘At least 25% of Vietnam vets are homeless--we don’t even know yet what’s happened to Gulf War vets...Here we prepare to send more of our country’s sons and daughters [to war].’ ”

“4pm--Police using pepper spray, handcuffing people VERY tightly--6 vanloads of people who’ve been arrested--30-40 arrests as she speaks.”

“Same Vietnam vet--’The police exist to protect us, not to defend the status quo.’ “

“cops still rushing people on horses--arrested a photographer who was taking pictures of what the police were doing”

“they’re pushing people against the building--the correspondent is talking to us on her cell phone--a woman was just hit in the mouth and she’s crying--the woman on the phone can’t breathe for a second”

“E & V train not stopping at 53rd and Lex”

“police have a man pinned down on the sidewalk--they’ve punched him--caucasian--being held by 4 officers”

“2000 Israelis and Palestinians marched together in Tel Aviv today!”

“Peace signs carried by New York Jewish contingents, writen in Hebrew, walked next to shawled Arab women”

“under Guiliani--$150-200 million collected from cases of police brutality in his first 5 years--according to the Village Voice”

“Later--Exhausted.”

2 Comments:

Blogger Yzerfontein said...

Nice to see Desmond Tutu getting a word in there.

7:51 AM  
Blogger chapman said...

thanks--you brought back that day--we were there, it was stunning. it's still important, cause people have forgotten there was huge and clear understanding of what bush was doing right then in 2003--hilary and schumer were voting for that war at a time when a million people were in the streets saying "don't do this." hence hilary and schumer can't say, "well we didnt know, we were being misled..."

10:45 AM  

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