Ashcroft Defied on City Hall Steps

Telling Ray Kelly to Protect the Constitution

On the steps of City Hall, I introduced myself to Charles Barron, who co-sponsored the New York resolution and had spoken tellingly at the rally of how the Bush-Ashcroft attacks on our liberties reminded him of the FBI's COINTELPRO surveillance and infiltration in the 1960s that forced some dissenting activists, as Barron said, "to go underground because of government harassment of them."

I spoke to Barron about liberties repressed in Zimbabwe, and he denounced me for "not telling the truth" about his report on Robert Mugabe's government after Barron's trip there. I asked Barron if he'd read my four recent columns on Zimbabwe. "No," he said, "because you do not tell the truth."

"How would you know," I said, "if you haven't read them? Send me any factual corrections, and I'll print them." He refused to do that because, he said repeatedly, "You have an agenda!"

"I do indeed," I told the councilman. "That's why I'm here today. I oppose any government that suppresses civil liberties, whether it's Bush and Ashcroft or Robert Mugabe." My friend Malcolm X used to urge, "Say it plain!" And Barron is not doing that about Mugabe.

From what I could tell, there was no coverage in any of the newspaper dailies of the May 28 rally. What the hell, it's only the Constitution.

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