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Audio from WDFH's coverage of the 2004 Republican National Convention

 

As we did with the Democratic National Convention, which was held in July in Boston, WDFH provided extensive coverage of the late summer Republican National Convention in New York City.  The protests played a large role at the RNC, but they were largely ignored by the mainstream media.  (By contrast, protests played almost no role in Boston).  Because the protests were newsworthy and were being so badly underreported by the mainstream press, we expanded our coverage: in addition to interviews with elected officials and delegates inside the convention center, we also aired a significant number of interviews conducted at various protests (though by no means all of them) throughout the week.

Our coverage included analysis from a panel of local expert commentators.  We also aired coverage from the Pacifica Radio Network, which included live broadcasts of the major speeches in their entirety.

WDFH's field reporters for the convention and the protests were Josephine Arce at Madison Square Garden and Lou Cannizzaro, Gil Bassak, Vinny Cohan, Robyn Leary, and Marc Sophos on the streets of Manhattan.  Our coverage was anchored by Jared David and Jim Carney at the WDFH studios.

The interviews are presented here in roughly chronological order, starting with audio from the major protest march on Sunday, August 29, the day before the convention officially started. 

These interviews will stream in .wma format, so you need to have Windows Media Player to listen to them.  Click here for free download if you don't already have it.

This page is verified to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer.  There may be problems with other browsers, so if you're using Netscape or another browser and the links don't work, just select the URL given at the end of each interview (http://wdfh.org... and ending in .wma) and copy it <control-c>, open Windows Media Player, from the File menu select Open URL, and then paste the URL <control-v> into the dialog box.  You can also use Winamp — open>location.

Photos:

  • from WDFH's RNC coverage: 1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

  • inside WDFH's studios (these were taken during the Democratic convention earlier this summer; the scene in the studios was substantially the same as it was during the RNC): 1 | 2 | 3

  • back to WDFH election coverage

Go to WDFH's coverage of the Democratic National Convention

 

Sunday, August 29

Although the convention didn't start until Monday, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Manhattan on Sunday in a massive march, mostly protesting against the Republican convention and the Bush administration.  The march, which started in Union Square and continued up Seventh Avenue through Chelsea toward Madison Square Garden, was for the most part peaceful.  The New York Times described it as the largest organized protest connected with a political convention in US history.

Lou Cannizzaro spoke to people going to the protest march.

  • Richard Deats, of Nyack, New York, editor of Fellowship Magazine of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  Speaks on opinions on the war and his reasons for protesting this war and the current administrations policies.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_deats.wma

  • Peter Titus, from Chestnut Ridge, New York, concerned citizen marching with Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice.   Expresses his feelings for being here today and vocalizes his opinions to the Bush administration.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_titus.wma

  • Janet Chisholm, coordinator of Non Violence Training for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a multi-faith-based organization.  Talks about making social change without violence; cultural change comes from grassroots, not from the top.  Protesting against the war and the violence in the world today.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_chisholm.wma

  • George Patonavic, president of SPACE — Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment.  Talks about tenuous state of country today and need for a change in administration.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_patonavic.wma

  • Abigail Addams, with Greenedragon.org.  Going to the march with her organization and declaring independence from the "Bush the Second Monarchy," as she puts it.  They are protesting against the RNC's exploitation of NYC and the Sept. 11 attacks.  Also speaks on women's rights, the economy, the war, and Bush as a divider, not a uniter.  Greenedragon.org is a not-for-profit group; name derived from Greene Dragon Tavern in Boston, where the Boston Tea Party originated.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_addams.wma

  • Perry Emanual of West Haven, Connecticut, a veteran who served in the Gulf War, protesting the Bush administration and the cutting of veteran benefits.  Feels strongly that politicians should serve the people, not the corporations that contributed to their election funds.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_lac_emanual.wma

WDFH's Gil Bassak spoke with protesters as well as Bush supporters at the march.

  • David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate.   Says he's not stealing votes but rather earning them.  Thinks he's going to "win" by getting more people to participate in the democratic process.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_cobb.wma

  • Alan Reid from Interfaith Voices.  Sick of Bush and the war and won't take it any more.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_reid.wma

  • Matt Rice of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) introducing Chris P. Carrott, who is running for President with his running mate, Kernal Corn.  They are promoting a healthy and compassionate vegan diet.  Gil asks the funniest question of the day:  Does the carrot talk? Answer: Nope.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_rice.wma

  • John Alvarez of Syracuse, New York.  A Bush supporter who says that the protesters are a small minority of America: they are angry, they use profanity, and they show, as he puts it, a "lack of intolerance."  A lack of intolerance...hmm, OK.  Alvarez was one of a couple of dozen pro-Bush, anti-abortion counterprotesters in front of the Southgate Hotel at 31st Street and Seventh Avenue.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_alvarez.wma

  • Desiree Bernstein, another pro-Bush counterprotester.  She says we need to stay the course fighting terrorism overseas; otherwise we fight it at home.  Maintains that abortion is killing off Blacks and Hispanics.  If Kerry is elected we'll lose the sanctity of marriage.  This is a Christian nation.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_bernstein.wma

  • David Russky of Merrick, Long Island, New York.  A recent college grad who was in the city last night, got stuck, and decided to watch the protest.  Voting for Kerry; sees some good in Bush but considers a lot of what he does to be stupid.  Was impressed by Kerry's acceptance speech at the DNC.  Considers Kerry a war hero who wants to stop the war; says that if drafted he will serve but does not want to.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040829_gb_russky.wma

 

Monday, August 30

The convention began Monday evening.  During the day, there were more protests. 

  • Vinny Cohan talked with Kara Sebig and Leia Jools Jimenez at Union Square.  They said they don't like how Bush uses religion in the campaign and that the Iraq war is "ridiculous."  Commentary about the importance of participation and protest, especially amongst like minded people.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_vc_sebigjimenez.wma

Marc Sophos spoke with people near the Still We Rise Coalition protest on Monday afternoon.

  • Adam Hurter of Northampton, Massachusetts.  He's with the group 911truth.org.   Says the September 11 commission report is inadequate; the Bush administration is dangerous.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_hurter.wma

  • Christine Jansky and Stephanie Chacker of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, of Dykes Against Bush.   Discussion of gay marriage and their NYC experience during the convention.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_janskychacker.wma

  • Joe Ramsey of Boston and Armande deBrecourt of Queens (who joined the conversation in Part 4).  Recorded on West 18th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, just downtown from Madison Square Garden.  This turned into long discussion and was presented in six parts:

  • Part 1: Joe says the Iraq war was founded on lies; that the RNC is exploiting Sept. 11 and seeking to have the American public "mindlessly" sign on to the "war on terror"; talks about the Patriot Act and the climate of fear; says that dissent is being repressed at a time it is more needed than ever.  Talks about the Still We Rise Coalition march on Monday.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey1.wma

    Part 2:  Says protests are not really being directed at the delegates; wants protest stories in the media to interrupt the political message coming out of the convention.  Says he thinks the protests are speaking to undecided voters.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey2.wma

    Part 3:  Talks about possible chilling effect on protest caused by law enforcement questioning of targeted individuals before the fact.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey3.wma

    Part 4:  Armande deBrecourt from Queens joins the conversation.  She talks about lack of an underground organization to help protect people who are politically isolated.  Says the Bush "entourage" is wealthy and racist.  Joe rejoins and they talk about going it alone in Iraq; what it really means to support the troops; whether peace with honor is possible, or meaningful, particularly at the individual level.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey4.wma

    Part 5:  Talking about moderate face/extreme platform contrast; Kerry's support of his vote to give Bush authority to invade Iraq; whether the media are serving the public interest; what it would mean symbolically to replace the Bush administration; and the need for a grassroots movement to advance social change continuing after the election.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey5.wma

    Part 6:  Armande on the message she hopes to send to people sitting on the sidelines. Joe on the power of grassroots organizing; says the people are ahead of the politicians.  Common working people have fought for and won the civil rights we have.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ms_ramsey6.wma

WDFH's Josephine Arce, with technical production by Gordon Brode, spoke with people at the convention inside Madison Square Garden.

  • Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska.  Committees: Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Foreign Relations, Select Committee on Intelligence.  Says what he thinks the party needs to do at the convention to get the president's message out.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ja_hagel.wma

  • Jeremy DeGuzman, a 16 year old from West Virginia, with the Junior Statesmen of America.  Likes Bush's emphasis on tort reform.  Feels that protesters are "ignorant of issues" and that they just don't like Bush because of the war.  Wants Bush to focus on drawing votes from among 18-24 year olds.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040831_msg_jeremy.wma

  • South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds, first term Republican governor, former insurance executive.  Convention must tell all the good that's been done so far and describe step by step what needs to happen in the future.  Spins the size of the Sunday march to 100,000, far smaller than most other estimates (400,000-500,000).  Talks about role of federal government as protection (defense) and to "look at overall economy."  ["look at"?]  Talks about effort to defeat Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle.  Talks about what Bush needs to do in his speech Thursday night
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040830_ja_rounds.wma

Tuesday, August 31

At the convention, Josephine talked with Gordon Pederson, a 77 year old retiree in the South Dakota state legislature, an eight time delegate.  He was wearing a vest covered with over 100 pins collected and traded over the years.  Says Bush needs to level with the people; believes Bush tells the truth as he knows it and his most important job right now is party unification.  Says Rudy Giuliani's speech did a lot of good for rural Republicans as well as New Yorkers.  Talks about Thune/Daschle senate race, saying Thune is "the best shot we've had in years."
http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040831_msg_peder.wma

Meanwhile, on the street, the mood in the city was much more tense than it had been on Sunday and Monday.  Reports and eyewitnesses indicated a much more confrontational attitude from the police, and some 1,300 arrests were reportedly made.  (In a dramatic contrast, Boston police made a total of four convention-related arrests during the entire Democratic convention, according to a report broadcast on NPR.)

Marc planned to talk with Charles Shaw, an organizer with the Green Party, whom we interviewed in Boston, but before they met up he was arrested and detained for two days at the now-infamous Pier 57 detention center.  We hope to talk with him on the air about his experiences in New York soon.

Marc talked with Adam Jankowitz of New York City near the northeast corner of Union Square on Tuesday evening.  The scene: probably a few hundred demonstrators were gathered in Union Square, mostly along Union Square East, facing a line of police.  Across Union Square East, several hundred protesters who had been arrested were penned in on East 16th Street and were gradually taken away in buses and police vans.  As Adam described his observations, the police were more confrontational Tuesday than they were on Sunday and Monday.  This was especially true when there was no visible media presence nearby.  He says that demonstrations were not orchestrated by the Democratic Party, though most of the protesters will probably vote Democratic.  Voting for Kerry; feels he has a strong environmental record but that he hasn't gone far enough on the Iraq war or gay marriage.
http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040831_ms_jankowitz.wma

 

Wednesday, September 1

Josephine was at the convention.  She spoke with:

  • Senator and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi).  He talks about why September 11 is so important at this convention; links to current terrorism in Russia.  On politicizing September 11:  says they cannot have a political event and ignore 9/11, what we've done about it, and who we want to lead us in the future.  On NYC: we chose NYC and "I'm having a grand time."  Says Cheney is a very strong man on security and defense.  Has known him and his family personally.  It's all about setting up Bush's speech tomorrow.  On protesters:  has seen several protesters; no real problems thanks to NY's finest.  Did Hardball, surrounded by protesters, but it worked fine: they've been behaving themselves pretty well (despite their "Bronx waves").
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_msg_lott.wma

  • Congressman Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), member of the Agriculture, Transportation/Infrastructure, and Veterans Affairs Committees.  Says it's a very close election; the convention needs to appeal to people who don't typically watch conventions.  Republicans need to talk about family "breakfast table" economics and everyday people problems.  Says there's a very partisan division in Congress.  Says politics should be limited to just a few months before the election and that political rhetoric should be set aside during the year so they can focus on the job at hand.  On the Republican platform support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, says the platform means something to a small number of people; it's important to state core principles, but the platform is no longer used in the way it used to be.  On a woman's right to choose: Kansas is very conservative on social issues.   Many will be comfortable with pro-life plank.  On protests:  all he's seen is great hospitality, warm welcome.  NYC is an easy place to have convention.  Cost of health care is a huge issue in this election; comments on Pfizer's drug card, legislation, choosing a plan.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_msg_moran.wma

  • Jay Hughes, delegate from Virginia.   Decided in 1998 to stop complaining and get involved in the Republican party.   On what Cheney needs to do in his speech this evening: stick to Bush's message, secure borders, support freedom and democracy through the world, turn tables on terrorism, be pro-business, energize the electorate.  On Virginia's economy: large military economy but wants to encourage private sector companies, keep VA tax friendly.  On NYC: overall experience: fantastic.  NYPD: fantastic.  "I haven't encountered one single protester!"
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_msg_hughes.wma

Mr. Hughes's comment about the absence of protesters was apt.  To get close to Madison Square Garden, one needed to be carrying officially issued convention credentials (mere press ID's didn't work), and anyone who did not have them was kept a considerable distance from Madison Square Garden — at least one crosstown block and two uptown-downtown blocks.  Because of this, it was possible for many delegates and others attending the conventions to arrive on their buses and avoid contact with protesters, though this was not the experience of all.

But despite the fact that many conventioneers didn't see them, there were numerous protests around the city on Wednesday.  Marc covered the March on the Media, which passed by the offices of several major media corporations (among them, CNN, NBC, and Fox).   There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the mainstream media in the crowd, which Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), one of the organizers, estimated at about 2,000.  (FAIR is the producer of CounterSpin, the weekly media critique heard on WDFH Mondays at 1PM and Saturdays at 10AM.)   Among the people Marc spoke with:

  • Janine Jackson, co-host of CounterSpin.  Janine talks about failure of media to provide responsible coverage of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration in general.  Says news organizations are being run as businesses; cutbacks are being made in investigative reporting as budgets are being cut; news media are close to those in power and that limits the scope of their coverage of the news.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_jackson.wma

  • Mary Titus of New York.   Protesting against the media on two fronts: the lies during the run-up to the war, and missing major stories.  There seems to be a conflict with corporate owners.   Deregulation and consolidation starting in Reagan administration or possibly earlier is a big cause.  Threat to basic rights.  Media have unsavory alliance with corporations that profit by war.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_titus.wma

  • Joan Kaiser.  Protesting the media in every way: says they tell lies; mirror Bush and the administration.   They are almost criminal in their omissions.  They have responsibility to the public and they're ignoring it.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_kaiser.wma

  • Jeff Greenspan, an artist who worked on a piece called the Bush Booth, where people can "talk to" President Bush.  There's looped footage of Bush listening.  Point is to get people used to the idea of sending information up the chain rather than being passive receivers of information.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_greenspan.wma

  • Stephen Bonnett.  Says the American media are not exposing what is being done by the American government and other governments we are supporting.  There are too few voices and too few opportunities to expand the media to include new voices.  A few media corporations are far too big, limiting access for those who have something to say.  Too difficult to get independent voices that have some sway.  One solution is to expand the newly-created low power FM service.  As for political bias: a liberal bias is in eye of beholder.  Thinks there is a bias against important news.  Bias in favor of teaching people not to think.  Media's priorities skewed no matter how you see political bias.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_bonnett.wma

  • Elizabeth from NYC.   She says media marginalized the Sunday march; are carrying fluff stories instead of covering sentiment on the street.  Those who claim liberal bias in the media are "insane."
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_elizabeth.wma

  • Jacqueline James, a probation officer from Detroit.  Says billions are being spent on undeclared war for oil.   Also concerned about education.  Doesn't see the supposed turnaround of the economy: erosion of cities, homelessness, inflation, layoffs, downsizing, gas prices. Says media represent the corporate state, not the people.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_james.wma

  • Mary Jacobs of Los Angeles.   There are nuclear issues and the media are covering Michael Jackson instead.   Media are dumbing down America.  We need to go back to an earlier time of real journalism, asking real questions.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_jacobs.wma

  • Colin Mutchler of Brooklyn, youth media activist involved with listenup.org.   Says new technologies will help youth media get a stronger foothold in the coming years.  Media act in their corporate self-interest, taking care of their advertisers, not necessarily acting in the public interest.  Mainstream media have good relationships with people in power and don't want to ask them hard questions. They want favorable regulatory actions from them.  More...
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_mutchler.wma

  • Dennis Hanratty of the Progressive News Network, a Westchester-based cable TV public access programming service.  He says that the corporate media regurgitate the official line; he's outraged by the corporate media's behavior leading up to the war.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_hanratty.wma

  • George of New York.  Fox News is complicit in presenting falsified evidence to the public in support of the war.   Media need to be accountable; are currently driven by right wing discourse.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_george.wma

A performance artist who calls himself Reverend Billy led a call-and-response reading of the first amendment.   It was a pretty powerful moment.
http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040901_ms_firstamendment.wma

 

Thursday, September 2

The big night of the convention, with President Bush's speech and the balloons and confetti.  At Madison Square Garden, Josephine spoke with:

  • Brian E. Dubie, Lieutenant Governor of Vermont.  Entered politics as School Board Chair and has been Lt. Gov. for 18 months.  Hopes to hear Bush offer a solution for health care.  Is still a pilot for American Airlines; a friend was piloting Flight 11 on 9/11.  Just met Rudy Giuliani tonight and has tremendous respect for him.  Says the Vermont Army National Guard is training Afghani soldiers on the site of a former Al Queda training camp.  On abortion and gay marriage: there's great diversity within the Republican party and the US.  Vermont's compromise was a civil union.  As a Catholic, he considers himself pro-life and pro-women; abortion is a choice of last resort.  On demonstrators: have had some good conversations with some; very respectful and reasonable, "God love 'em."  Loves NYC.  Great to be here on a festive occasion.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_msg_dubie.wma

  • Geraldine Sam, first grade teacher and an alternate delegate from Texas.  Switched from Democratic to Republican party because the Republicans are more in tune with African-American interests.  Bush’s speech spoke to what’s happening in America.  Says we didn’t start this war but we’re going to finish it.  Feels safer because of decisions Bush has made.  Says the protesters inside the convention were a disgrace, and blames the Democratic party.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_msg_sam.wma

  • Bud Anderson, delegate from West Virginia.  Says he’s a fiscal conservative and also a conservative with respect to natural resources; anyone who’s concerned about environmentalism should be a Republican.  Feels sorry for street protesters, who he says tried to be evil and villainous.  Says he wouldn’t call the Sunday protest very large, and that more people show up for a West Virginia possum festival.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_msg_anderson.wma

  • Elizabeth Blackney, Media Director for the California delegation.  Says the convention was a success.  Cheney’s speech knocked it out of the ballpark; Cheney’s only agenda is to support the president.  Schwartzenegger’s speech was well-received by both moderates and conservatives.  Says the Republican party platform’s support of the anti-gay marriage amendment is a “starting point” and other viewpoints are welcome within the Republican party.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_msg_blackney.wma

At the studio, host Jared David talked by phone with former White House spokesman Mike McCurry.
http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_jd_mccurry.wma

On the protest front, Marc spent the early part of Thursday evening in Union Square in Manhattan, where a few thousand demonstrators had gathered.  As we have noted, the protests were vastly underreported in the mainstream media, and when there was reporting on the protests, it tended to center on specific — and usually confrontational — events, rather than talking to people and asking them about their perceptions and ideas.  During the roughly six hours he spent covering the Thursday night protests in Union Square and then on Eighth Avenue near Madison Square Garden later in the evening, Marc did not see any other reporters interviewing protesters.  The absence of meaningful coverage of the protests no doubt contributed to a lack of public understanding about what really happened in New York City that week, and it underscores the need for grassroots, community-based, alternative media.

In Union Square, Marc talked with:

  • Richard Blum of NYC.  Union Square is where he went after Sept. 11.  Feels the police are suppressing dissent.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_blum.wma

  • Victoria Rawlinson of NYC.  Wants to let Republicans know use of NYC for convention is inappropriate: politicizing Sept. 11; almost baiting NYC, which is 5-1 Democratic.  Republicans don’t want dialogue — pure monologue; they just repeat their rhetoric.  Among issues not being discussed: poverty, unemployment, NAFTA.  The US won't be as good as it can be with Bush in office for four more years.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_rawlinson.wma

  • Keith from Brooklyn.   Hasn’t been taking part in earlier demonstrations.  Doesn’t want RNC here because they’re using Sept. 11 for political advantage.  Slightly intimidated by police but would rather see them there than not.  There are some elements in the police force that might foment unrest, so with lots of protesters, everyone’s keeping each other in check.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_keith.wma

  • Vaj from Manhattan.  Has been gravitating to protests all week.  Disgusted by RNC being here; shameless exploitation of Sept. 11 first to scare us into war with Iraq and now to get more votes.  They are being smug and are full of hubris; we don’t care what you think of us, we’re going to come here and block up your streets and force confrontation on a city that generally does not really like, appreciate, or support their policies.   Says dissent is really important at a time when dissenters are being labeled unpatriotic.  Doesn’t feel oppressed by police presence; there the possibility for abuse in any position of authority but they represent a full range of political opinion and they’re just trying to do their job.  Didn’t know anyone who died in Sept. 11 attacks but will never forget the smell and the chaos.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_vaj.wma

The common perception of protests as angry mobs on the verge of on an out-of-control outbreak of violence didn't reflect the reality in Union Square on Thursday night.  There certainly was anger — opposition to the president's policies on a wide range of issues; a feeling of resentment toward the Republicans for having chosen to hold their convention in New York, a generally progressive city; most particularly a very strong and widely held feeling of violation over the exploitation of September 11.

But there was also a feeling of solidarity.   People had gathered and found themselves in an almost entirely likeminded crowd, and despite the anger there was a sense of joy and even fun in being together.  Parts of Union Square were quiet, with people gathered in small groups, holding candles and talking.  Chants had been taken up in other areas.  Musicians had gathered throughout.

Continuing with conversations and sound gathered in Union Square:

  • Gail Drakes from Brooklyn, a Ph.D. candidate who works for a social justice nonprofit organization.   Suspects the RNC’s motives because all they do is attack Kerry.  As a historian, sees lots that is factually wrong in what’s being presented by the convention.  Wanted to believe it when RNC said the convention wasn’t going to exploit Sept. 11, but after the first night it was hard to believe that; it’s particularly disrespectful to anyone who suffered a loss on Sept. 11; this was a national tragedy and making it about a particular political party is just wrong.  Issues she considers important: depth and level of debate; everything is superficial, sound-bite.  Our unwillingness to really engage the issues explains how Republicans have come so far.  Media are supposed to call politicians on inaccuracies.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_drakes.wma

  • Jenna Orkin of the World Trade Center Environmental Organization.  Sept. 11 caused enormous environmental contamination.  Bush is using NYC as a lightning rod for terrorist attacks.  New York is 49th out of 50 states in per capita homeland security spending; Republicans are using NYC without protecting NYC.  Exploiting Sept. 11 imagery is despicable.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_orkin.wma

  • Members of a Lower East Side musical group.  USA is the only place where thousands of people can protest.  Get out and vote.   And a song — “Nobody for President”
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_nobodyforpres.wma

  • More chants: "No more Bush chant"; "The people united will never be defeated"
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_nomorebush.wma

  • Saxophone player in Union Square
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_sax.wma

  • Hugo, naturalized citizen.  Objects to Bush’s wholesale destruction of the environment.  Feels the RNC is exploiting Sept. 11.  Feels the media are denying crucial information to the electorate.  Much of the media belong to companies that profit from the war.   Bloomberg refused right of the people to go to Central Park; thinks he was hoping for confrontation.  Tried to “beautify” the city by sweeping the homeless out of view of the conventioneers.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_hugo.wma

  • Drumming, southwest corner of Union Square, Thursday evening.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_drum.wma

  • Sam from the East Village.  Carrying sign saying “Condoms Stop AIDS, Bush Stops Condoms.”  Too young to vote but would support Kerry; he’s strongly against Bush, who makes him ashamed to tell foreigners he’s an American.  Feels that the Republican convention coming to NYC is disgusting.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_sam.wma

  • More drumming and a small band, southwest corner of Union Square
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_band.wma

Around that time, small groups of people started drifting over to Eighth Avenue in the upper Twenties to get as close to Madison Square Garden as they could.  There was no massive march; after what happened on Tuesday — masses of protesters in unpermitted gatherings were arrested after being gathered in orange plastic police netting — people just wanted to get to the area near Madison Square Garden and re-gather.  Unpermitted gatherings...another Orwellian concept, and an indication of the state of civil liberties in 2004 America.

On Eighth Avenue, Marc talked with:

  • Gary and Glenn of NYC.  Gary says the RNC being in town has left him feeling suffocated.  Has been to some rallies and protests; finds it empowering to be around likeminded people.  Glenn, from Hell’s Kitchen, is angry about having the RNC in town but is glad to see everyone uniting in protest.  Thinks Bloomberg’s idea about handing out coupons for “peaceful protesters” was stupid.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_garyglenn.wma

  • Charles Stimson from the Village.  Feels appalled and threatened with RNC in town.  Will miss the grassroots opposition.  Bloomberg should treat citizens like citizens, not employees; the “peaceful protester” coupon idea has been largely ignored.  On the police presence: police drove their scooters into the crowd as a tactic to provoke.  Tonight’s protests is reminiscent of September 11 in Union Square with candles and homemade signs and tributes to people lost in September 11 and the war.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_stimson.wma

  • Tobias, 17, from NYC.  A leftist who doesn’t trust the Democrats any more than anyone else.  Liked Gephardt in the primaries.  Conventions are an absurd, a disgusting part of capitalism: they're arrogant, talk the talk and collect money and don’t have any hard influence on anything.  Thought this protest was impressive — a gathering without any central organization or leadership.  It would be reasonable to allow this protest to gather closer to Madison Square Garden; there are no militants here.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_tobias.wma

Throughout convention week, the National Lawyer's Guild provided volunteer legal observers who documented arrests and sought to make sure that protesters' rights were protected.  Wearing bright green hats, the observers seemed omnipresent and provided an essential service.  Marc spoke with two of them as things were winding down late Thursday night (technically, between 1:00 and 2:00 AM Friday):

  • Benjamin Bernard, a student at New York Law School, serving throughout convention week as a legal observer.  Has seen some good calls and some bad calls by the police.  Thinks that generally the week was a success for both police and protesters, except for Pier 57 detention center.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_bernard.wma

  • Alex, a second year law student, another legal observer.  They had several hours of training for this: what to kind of info to get when people are arrested, how to not get arrested.
    http://wdfh.org/audio/rnc/20040902_ms_alex.wma

Things were pretty much finished at the Madison Square Garden by 11PM, but the gathering of protesters continued on Eighth Avenue for a few more hours.  The city had put up metal crowd control barricades along the sidewalks.  The crowd was mostly on the street itself, and the police were mostly on the sidewalks, behind the barricades.  On the east sidewalk the police seemed at the ready, standing with feet apart, helmets on, and clubs out.  Across the street on the west sidewalk, they were much more relaxed — no helmets, no clubs drawn, leaning casually against the metal barriers.  In general, the mood was much more nighttime street fair than protest, with music and groups of people talking with each other.

By 1:30 AM, most of the crowd had dispersed.  A small group of about 15 young people sat down in a line across Eighth Avenue, apparently with the intent of provoking arrest.  The police largely ignored them for a while as they worked to re-open Eighth Avenue to traffic.  There were perhaps forty or fifty other people gathered, including a group of legal observers.   At about 2:00, after some discussion with the police, the protesters, without putting up resistance, were peacefully arrested.  Eighth Avenue was returned to its usual late-night denizens; the convention was over.