Last week the Anti-Advertising Agency announced “a costumed, roving, street party, apocalyptic, dance, rock, battle” would meetup at Union Square at 8:30 on Saturday.
That they did, and amNY’s Urbanite reports the “Pandamonium” event “turned ugly” as hundreds of people dressed in various states of panda “occupied the streets around the Bedford Avenue L stop for several blocks” and chanted “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” and “Panda!” until dispersed by police, who also arrested two organizers.
A video of the event was posted the same night on YouTube by froozalicious, under the title “Pandamonium Williamsburg Riot Police Brutality.” “It was a party and people were dancing and having fun,” says YouTube commenter cosmiczing. “The police were TOTALLY OVERREACTING… they were extremely aggressive, taking out their batons, arresting people very aggressively…”
Hartford Courant blogger Roger Catlin, who was on the scene, calls it “NYC rioting 2008-style” and chastised the Pandas for their “pointless mirth.” He is irritated that the event demonstrated a “complete lack of politics. There is a war and a presidential campaign going on, but you could hardly tell from the boisterous throng blocking the city intersection to all others.”
Perhaps the message was too subtle. An Urbanite commenter links to a Pandamonium flyer which says, “Bedford, with its hip boutiques, eco-friendly stores and music and bookshops specializing in ‘what’s now,’ offers little outside of consumption and fails as a viable alternative to the status quo… This is shaping our movements and actions so that they are more in line with the drive for profit, creating a veritable prison-mall.
“It’s time for us to retake space and transform it in a way that suits us. This party is but a small attempt to do that, to seize space and retool it for our own purposes.”
Image adapted from a Flickr photo by dantekgeek under a Creative Commons license.