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actions & protests | government | human & civil rights

N.Y. offers perks to 'nice' protesters

Cheap tickets, reduced hotel rates and more
Updated: 10:21 a.m. ET Aug. 18, 2004

NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned down requests to allow an anti-war demonstration in Central Park on the eve of the Republican National Convention, but he offered protesters something else: cheap tickets to a Broadway show.

All they have to do to get discounted tickets, reduced hotel rates and other perks is play nice when they come to town.

"There is no reason we shouldn't welcome them in the same way we are welcoming the delegates and the press," Bloomberg said Tuesday. "The right to protest is a basic American right ... and New York City is a place where you can come and get your message out."

Buttons showing the Statue of Liberty welcoming "peaceful political activists" will be given to protesters who obey the law and groups that have permits to demonstrate. Participating restaurants, museums and others will provide the treats.

"It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach," Bloomberg said.

The offer of hospitality didn't impress protest groups, who questioned whether hotel rooms remain unreserved and theater tickets unsold because Bloomberg has alarmed potential visitors.

"They probably realize now that you're going to see more demonstrators than convention delegates and they'd better cater to them, too," said Tanya Mayo, national organizer for Not in Our Name, one of the groups seeking the park permit.

Protest organizers have threatened to sue to gather 250,000 demonstrators at Central Park rather than use a site proposed by the city.

The Republican convention will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.
get it? 18.Aug.2004 13:19

I do

"Protesters can also get the buttons from groups that have a legal permit to rally. But Mr. Bloomberg conceded yesterday that not everyone who wore a button would be strictly vetted for his or her peacefulness. "Unfortunately, we can't stop an anarchist from getting a button," he said, though he doubted any of them would want to wear one."

Anarchist = Violent


fun in nyc 18.Aug.2004 13:22

canarchist

"Protesters can present the buttons at places like the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Sex, the Pok?mon Center store and such restaurants as Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too and Applebee's to save some cash during their stay."

Woohoo, art, sex, and pokemon; there's a winning combination.


Bloomberg=Douche Bag 18.Aug.2004 14:36

Ludd

Well thank god for Bloomberg. He's just solved the problem. After all anyone protesting the Bush junta must be in it for the coupons. Just think activists, you can have dinner at Tavern on the Green, go for a horse and buggy ride around Central Park and afterwards head out to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and visit the Foxy Den, where your lap dance dollars will trickle down to the crackwhores.

After all isn't this is what the protest is all about, a lack of "disposible income"?

Protesting against capitalist/fascists is, afterall, just a hobby of the "trust-fund white kids" playing at revolutionary. "Hey Bob, hey Mary let's go take in Les Miserable after we take to the streets and voice our disgust with global capitalist oppression. It's thematic you see."

Oh, excuse me, I just dropped my monocal in my martini.

Counter Proposal 18.Aug.2004 14:44

better idea

"Peaceful Politician Pins" for any politician who opposes U.S. aggression.

More Republican Hypocrisy 18.Aug.2004 14:52

not fooled

How about pins for the protesters with a big sheep on them and "OBEY!" in big, black letters? What a bunch of hypocrites. All the neocons seem to understand is violence, yet the sheeple are chided if they might not play nice for the RNC's photo-op. The Republican bloodsuckers who let 3000 Americans die on 9-11 come to NY to milk the tragedy for votes. Disgusting. Enough civil obedience. Let's send a deafening "NO" to the Republican neocon agenda.

losing the 1st 18.Aug.2004 16:25

tt01

this was a big story - what with bloomberg saying that the 1st amendment is a "privilege". i think he needs a dictionary.


Behavior May Cost Protesters 'Privileges,' Bloomberg Says
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

Published: August 17, 2004

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told a group of volunteers who plan to toil at the Republican National Convention yesterday that he expected most protesters who come to the event later this month would "be reasonable," but he warned that "if we start to abuse our privileges, then we lose them."

Coincidentally, his remarks followed a protest by a small group of police officers who were told to move away from the doorway of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan or risk arrest. The group was there awaiting the mayor's arrival to address and thank the volunteers.

Mr. Bloomberg has been battling two disparate groups of protesters over the last few weeks: police and fire union officials, who have been trailing him at his public events and yelling at him to give them a raise, and antiwar protesters, who have been wrangling with the city over where they can stage a large demonstration the day before the convention, which will be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

In recent days, as each group has gotten more aggressive, Mr. Bloomberg has been forced to address them in his public remarks as he goes about the city. Last week, during a briefing with police officials on the convention, Mr. Bloomberg suggested that antiwar protesters be mindful of American troops in Iraq.

When asked later if he meant that protesters were being unpatriotic, Mr. Bloomberg said he did not. "If you think the war is wrong you should say so," he said, adding that his point was that "we have freedoms that most other people do not have," including the right to protest.

Yesterday, a small group of police officers were reminded of the limitations they face when they stood outside the college waiting for Mr. Bloomberg to arrive, and handed out leaflets while blocking the entrance.

After being asked to move several times, the leader of the group, Walter Liddy, was told he would be arrested if he did not move to a penned-in area near the school. "I almost got arrested for exercising our civil rights," Mr. Liddy said.

Mr. Liddy seemed perplexed when asked if he had anything in common with the group that has been battling the city over its protest site the Sunday before the convention begins. "Because they're protesters and because they have a gripe," Mr. Liddy said, he saw some parallels, but added that their issues were very different.

That group, United for Peace and Justice, has repeatedly requested the right to protest on Central Park's Great Lawn and have been rejected each time by the city's Parks Department, whose officials say the lawn cannot handle the 250,000-odd protesters the city expects at their rally. The city offered the group the West Side Highway, which it accepted at one point but subsequently rejected last week.

Both the antiwar protesters and some of the police officers who could be assigned to watch over them used the same language to respond to the mayor's remarks about free speech being a privilege that can be lost.

"I never understood the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment were a privilege,'' said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, "I don't know why he is framing it that way."

Mr. Liddy echoed that thought: "Unless the mayor paid someone to rewrite the Constitution."