A few hours before today’s march was to start, dozens and dozens of cops lined Seventh Avenue, from 34th Street down to 23rd Street. It was like the Red Army getting it together for a Soviet-era May Day parade. But these were New York’s Finest, so they were mostly lolling around, sipping coffee and juice and bullshitting about what they were going do once they got back home to Massapequa.
Choppers whirred overhead at Madison Square Garden. Clusters of cops walked along Seventh in twos and threes, just south of the Garden, peering up to second-floor and third-floor windows for any signs of potential trouble. At Herald Square, cops propped their neat kit bags, apparently containing riot-control gear, against Macy’s windows. Fire engines cruised slowly through and around the area.
Down Seventh Avenue at 25th Street, a battalion of bicycle cops gathered. A couple of blocks farther south, the protesters were assembling.
About 100 reporters gathered for a press conference at 23rd to hear Leslie Cagan, of United for Peace and Justice, call for marchers to “send a message to the Republicans to stop their war and greed and hate.” She called for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq, for the troops to come home “now,” and for abolition of the Patriot Act.
More moving was a plea from Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq. A member of Military Families Speak Out, the grieving father noted, “I loved my son.” And then he said, “Bush, get out of the White House.” Among the other speakers was Kelly Dougherty, a female soldier who’s a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Michael Moore also spoke, promising to send recruiters up the street to the Garden to “try to get Republicans to fight in Iraq.” Moore called for a draft of the children of politicians and of the executives of Fortune 500 companies.
Union Square was already three-quarters full of protesters before noon. Cops were already telling T-shirt vendors selling anti-war wear to beat it.