The mainstream media coverage of early convention protests seems to prove the point of Chinatown residents, who in a street action Thursday accused the Bush administration of neglecting their community's poverty problems. Only an independent news site, sustained mainly by left-leaning students, had the story.
Press swarmed the tale of four "professionals"as one radio broadcast described the law student and her friendswho hung an anti-Bush banner down the front of the Plaza Hotel. But in less posh surroundings, a more radical banner fluttering from the Chinatown side of the Manhattan Bridge received nearly no notice.
"No Blood for Oil, No War for Empire," read the bold, black Chinese characters neatly painted above the more angrily scrawled "No to RNC & Bush" that glared in red English. (See photos of the adorned bridge here.)
Student members of a local grassroots organization, Chinatown Justice Project, staged street theater in nearby Confucius Plaza, big Bush mask and all. But while the activists enjoyed the spectacle of the banner along with crowds of passers-by, they told the Voice they could not rightly claim credit for the gutsy action. Dissent in Chinatown, it seemed, could come from as many diverse quarters as in the rest of the city.
Community members reported that police soon showed up to quell the theatrical protest. But, perhaps in keeping with the neglect of the area, an NYPD spokesperson denied not only the police reaction but also the very fact that a protest had even occurred or that a banner had waved.
Immigrants, especially undocumented ones, take a special risk by engaging in political action that exposes them to scrutiny and arrest. Their conviction in the face of such vulnerability makes their messages that much more compelling and worthy of public notice.