Stand Up and Be Counted: Marching to Defend Democracy
This could be the largest protest march ever mounted against a president. Yeah, the logistics are still topsy-turvy; last week United for Peace and Justice filed an eleventh-hour lawsuit, charging that the city's refusal to let the group rally in Central Park violates New York's constitution. At press time, the judge had yet to rule. But this is a watershed moment, and whether or not the court grants UFPJ the right to mass on the Great Lawn and surrounding meadows, it behooves all Bush foes to turn out and be counted. Currently the group is asking participants to assemble at 14th Street, and has a permit to march up Seventh Avenue from 23rd Street to the Republican convention site at Madison Square Garden on 34th Street. But feeder marches will converge on the main march from all over, including Gays Against Bush (Sheridan Square), youth and students (Columbus Circle), even a "Viking bloc" (Washington Square). If the park's a go, UFPJ has lined up Jesse Jackson, Rosie Perez, Dennis Kucinich, Danny Glover, Pete Seeger, and Michael Franti to rouse the multitudes. If not, organizers are considering inviting people to bring radios for a "remote rally" over the airwaves, though where the crowd would mass after 34th Street is still up in the air. Organizers say they don't intend to put people into an arrest situation. But many say they're heading to Central Park regardless, even if it means hopping a subway. Performance artist Reverend Billy plans to make a stand by marrying people on the Great Lawn. "Like love, we believe the right to free speech and assembly should be sacred," says the Rev. Amen.
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