Today, a New York State judge ruled that the â€œpeaceâ€ activist organization United for Peace and Justice would not be permitted to demonstrate in New York Cityâ€™s Central Park. In essence, the judge ruled that the organization pulled a fast one in filing suit at this late date after having previously agreed to hold its protest at an alternate location.
This morning (prior to the court ruling), I heard on the radio the Head of the organization intimate that the some of its claimed 250,000 members might assemble in Central Park even if the face of an adverse court ruling. However, in a newscast after the court issued its decision, I heard someone who purported to speak for the organization state that the organization would not seek to assemble in Central Park.
The United for Peace and Justice website seems to suggest that the organization will comply with the law, when it states:
We are very disappointed in the ruling today, denying our request to rally in Central Park. But make no mistake: Our August 29 protest march is still happening! We have an agreement with the City for a legal, peaceful march past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican Convention, and we are negotiating with the New York Police Department for a safe, peaceful, and orderly closure of the day’s events.
However, the part about â€œnegotiating with the New York Police Department for a safe, peaceful, and orderly closure of the dayâ€™s eventsâ€ suggests to me that, after the organization marches past Madison Square Garden, it might well turn in the direction of Central Park, rather than the direction of the West Side Highway, the permitted location. I hope I’m wrong.
A.N.S.W.E.R., another “peace” organization that also lost an earlier federal court battle for access to Central Park, is considerably less circumspect about its intentions.
The spontaneous reaction to the Judge’s decision and the widely publicized response to the Judge ruling from the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition spokesperson – that “Thousands of people are coming, and many of them intend to be in Central Park, and we believe that it is their right to be in Central Park” (from August 24 NY Times front page story) – has made it as clear as day to the authorities that the denial of permits for the August 28 and 29 demonstrations was a huge miscalculation. Even unnamed police officials are now being quoted in the media that the Mayor and the city made a mistake by denying the permits because the people are likely to assert their free speech rights and descend on Central Park. This is a sign that the powers that be are getting nervous.
I, for one, am nervous, given the track record of A.N.S.W.E.R., an organization that advocates â€œCounter-Revolution and Resistance in Iraqâ€ (i.e. â€œSupport those who currently are killing American soldiers).
Who knows what these organizations have planned to â€œdisruptâ€ the convention? Unfortunately for us and possibly even for their members, New York City next week will be a prime target for a terrorist attack. I would much rather have the police, who will be occupied keeping order among the protesters, spend that time looking for people who would happily kill as many Americans as they can and who wonâ€™t much give a damn whether the victims are delegates, innocent spectators, or A.N.S.W.E.R members.