While the anarchists were getting pepper sprayed in D.C., about 20 New Yorkers gathered to express their distaste for George Bush in a more elegant way: ice skating.
At noon, as Bush was being sworn in for his second term, they took to the ice at Rockefeller Center wearing T-shirts that read: “The World Is on Thin Ice With Bush.”
Chanting slogans like “Bush is a disaster, the ice is melting faster!,” they wobbled and whirled around the rink, earning a few smiles and thumbs up from fellow skaters and tourists, and a wary eye from police.
Although the head of Rockefeller Center security stepped in when their chants grew too vigorous, warning them that the rink was private property and they could be arrested, participants said they felt they’d gotten their message across.
“We wanted to be in a public space to show all the lunchtime diners and watchers that New York City is not Bush country,” said Pam Brown, a Shakespeare professor from Prospect Heights, who skated alongside her husband. “Also, we went to Bush’s inaugural last time, and it was so dreadful, we swore we’d never go again. The police kept us penned up behind these chainlink fences, so we were just shouting to ourselves.”
“Here we got to have some visibility, and also some consolation and fun on a day that’s very tragic.”
Many in the group were neighbors in Brooklyn; others met through MoveOn.org, or through canvassing against Bush during the election. And all said they were committed to defeating “Bushism,” if not Bush, over the next four years. “We’re very frustrated,” conceded Irene Porges, a 65-year-old Peace Corps veteran who helped get out the vote for Kerry in Pennsylvania. “For us, this was just a matter of doing something and not sitting home and watching this man get sworn in.”
“I think the metaphor of thin ice is very real,” added Brown. “It’s not just global warming, but social security and the whole social safety net. What binds us together is cracking.”
Twirling on her skates, Brown’s neighbor, Vanessa Roe, piped in: “You just can’t sit still. When you’re angry, you have to exorcise it.”