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A Weekend of Peaceful Protests
an article by Charlie McNally

Last weekend in New York, what many feared would be a violent demonstration that played into the hands of Karl Rove and the most negative political campaign in American history, instead turned into a weekend of nonviolent protest as diverse as it was wonderful.

The weekend kicked off with a "Critical Mass" bicycle protest, and as the riders prepared to depart from Union Square, onlookers where amazed at the sheer volume of riders. Although no estimates were released from organizers or police, it was clear there were thousands of people there to protest our reliance on cars and the anti-environmental policies of the Bush administration.

On Saturday, there were so many protests it was difficult to keep up. The largest of the day was Planned Parenthood's pro-choice march across the Brooklyn Bridge, but there were many others as well, including a life size monopoly game called "Oligopoly" in Washingtong Square Park, a rally of Starbucks workers against unfair labor practices on 36th and Madison, a protest to "Ring out the Republicans" where protesters surrounded Ground Zero ringing small bells, and even a wet T-shirt contest for change in Central Park.

The weekend came to a deafening cresendo on Sunday when almost half a million protesters came from all over the country to march past the convention site at Madison Square Garden and voice their displeasure with the Bush agenda (See related CPNN report). There were people there of every race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and any other affiliation you can think of. Street performers used creativity to mock Bush, and with the exception of a paper mache dragon that went up in flames when anarchists briefly confronted the police, the march proceeded without incident. Truly, this was a weekend of victory for peaceful protest.


Question(s) related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?,

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I have two comments about this report.  The first is on the question about the effectiveness of mass protest marches.  

Recalling the effectiveness of mass protest marches in the 1978 Iranian Revolution, I looked it up on a search engine and found the following account of the revolution's climax"

  "In November, the Shah turned the government into a military government in order to force strikers back to work. But the worst, everyone knew, was about to come. The month of Muhurram was approaching, the month in which Shi'ites traditionally celebrate the martyrdom of Husayn. It is a passionate and highly religious month, and since the protests against the Shah were largely religious in nature, everyone knew that the country was on the verge of exploding.

  Muhurram began on December 2 with demonstrations, and these demonstrations would continue all throughout the month. They were massive, in the millions, and it was clear that the demonstrators, not the government, was in charge. . ...more.

This report was posted on September 2, 2004.