Went to The People’s Climate March yesterday, so thought I’d post some photos, provided below this brief note.
On the train ride, I met a wonderful, obviously wealthy, corporate (re-insurance Exec) and cosmopolitan dual citizen German couple currently living in Princeton. Despite our cultural & class differences, we had a lively conversation the whole way. I learned things and found we shared similar views, from the political power and influence of the Green Party in Germany and German solar and recycling programs, to the fact that US is so insular and so far behind in various cultural, political, land use, transportation, environmental and technological curves on many issues – an outright backward nation in many respects.
(* eg, the woman was not at all reluctant to talk engagingly with a strange man about politics, ideology, race, class, the role of government etc – a conversation you could virtually never have with a US citizen, and probably not a US academic and certainly not a US policy maker or journalist. And almost impossible with an attractive woman with her husband sitting next to her).
Before going to the march, I was disappointed by how it was organized – on top of the flaws Chris Hedges has written about, e.g. no demands, avoidance of the UN, etc, after attending the march, I must ask:
Did organizers fail to get a permit for an event in Central Park, from a so called progressive Mayor?
Why was a Park location not made a litmus test for the Mayor’s progressive bona fides? If permits were sought for the Park and denied, why was there no very public legal fight over this?
Admittedly, I did not follow these issues – but did I miss all that?
A Park event seems much better than a march, especially one with no terminus (11th ave & 38th street??). A march should end in a specific place and there should be some organizing activity, e.g “March On (insert place) FOR (insert goal/message)….”
I certainly am no organizer or event planner, but it seems that people attending an event in an unstructured large space have freedom to enter the space from multiple points, greatly easing congestion in access and egress. People don’t fragment into their organizational silos – they intermingle and are visually and spatially unified, promoting a common message and shared objective.
In contrast, the march tended to fragment each group and undermine the central organizing objective of the march: which was to build a coalition amongst many very different groups working on the various aspects of the climate crisis.
The march was highly structured and controlled by police security barricades – those barricades caused huge congestion on sidewalks and forced folks in the march to stand in place with no movement for significant periods of time.
I began from the starting point and walked north against the direction of the march to get a sense of the size and photos of the groups assembled. At points it was impossible to move at all – thousands of people were jammed and many were forced to walk west a block over from the parade route. Entrance points from the west were all jammed, almost all the way to 83rd street.
Along the way, I had many conversations with protesters and event organizers, but one with a NYC cop sticks in my mind.
I observed that the cops seemed laid back in dealing with such a huge crowd, a very different posture than how they responded to Occupy Wall Street. I told him that if Occupy turned out that many people, then cops could not have abused them the way they did, especially the white shirts (supervisors).
His reply to the white shirt abuse (“they don’t get out that often”) was funny, but his response to the relaxed level of security was disturbing:
“We have good intel on the groups participating in this march – they are non-violent.”
Obviously, cops must do some analysis in planning security for such a huge event, but to hear that described as “intel” suggests that “intelligence” is somehow formalized, e.g. infiltration, monitoring, or spying on political groups.
My guess is that their response to the Flood Wall Street event will be very different.
Sorry kids, you can’t stop climate change if you won’t stop traffic and disobey police orders.
This is what its gonna take (quote in its entirety):
We were told the following: If President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the regents in his telephone conversation, why didn’t he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received, from a well-meaning liberal, was the following: He said, ‘Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors?’ That’s the answer!
Well, I ask you to consider: If this is a firm, and if the board of regents are the board of directors; and if President Kerr in fact is the manager; then I’ll tell you something. The faculty are a bunch of employees, and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be—have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product. Don’t mean… Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!
There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! (watch it on YouTube)
But we didn’t get any of that:
According to inside sources a push early on for a Seattle-style event—organizing thousands of people to nonviolently shut down the area around the United Nations—was thwarted by paid staff with the organizing groups.