Greens Support Demand for Access to Central Park Lawn for the August 29 Protest Rally During the Republican National Convention.
GREENS SUPPORT DEMAND FOR CENTRAL PARK LAWN FOR THE AUGUST 29 PROTEST RALLY DURING THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Green Party leaders are backing the decision by United For Peace & Justice (UFPJ) to reject the New York City officials' alternate proposal of a West Side Highway rally point.
Greens are also supporting UFPJ's lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court against the city for denying a permit to use the Central Park lawn for the August 29 protest at the Republican National Convention.
"Central Park is the only logical gathering place for crowd of up to a million protesters responding," said Charles Shaw, Illinois Green and co-chair of the Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States.
"We share UFPJ's concerns about health, safety, and utility problems that might arise at the West Side Highway location. Furthermore, the mayor would be prohibiting demonstrators -- American citizens and New York residents -- use of a park they own."
Greens contested Mayor Bloomberg's statement on Monday, August 16 that protest is a "privilege" that can be rescinded, and asserted that public protest a constitutionally protected right.
"We are proceeding with our plans for a legal, permitted march against the Bush agenda on Sunday, August 29, and we are exploring a wide range of options for the post-march rally," said George Martin, Wisconsin Green and member of the UFPJ Steering Committee.
UFPJ will gather 10 a.m. at Seventh Avenue and 14th Street, and the march will step off at noon, bringing a massive crowd past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican Convention. Greens and friends of Greens plan to assemble 10 a.m. at 19th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, step off at noon, and join the UFPJ march.
Green organizers recalled a major nuclear disarmament demonstration in 1982, which drew a million participants. Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis warned that protesters would "ruin the park" and denied the permit. Mayor Ed Koch ordered Davis to open Central Park, saying "They'll be safe there." The result was only a couple of arrests for misdemeanors; the day after the event, Davis said that Central Park was neater than his son's bedroom at home. The director of the 1982 rally was Leslie Cagan, chief organizer of the August 29 UFPJ march.
Although UFPJ has not advocated this position, other groups have called for "taking the park" regardless of the city's final decision. Greens have generally supported UFPJ's decision not to call for open defiance of Bloomberg's decree.
"Mayor Bloomberg seems less concerned with the safety of the protesters than with the safety of his fellow Republicans and their tourist revenue, said Rebecca White, Green candidate for the State Senate in New York's 17th District. "Since the lawn can handle a much larger crowd than is expected, the only other explanation is that the Republican Party wants to quash any dissent."
The Green Party is also planning an all day festival titled "A Green World Is Possible", Saturday, August 28, noon to 6 p.m. in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. National Green nominees David Cobb and Pat LaMarche, U.S. Senate candidate David McReynolds, Ralph Nader's running mate Peter Camejo, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and Code Pink, Major Jason West of New Paltz, New York, and other Green candidates and leaders will speak at the rally.