Tens of Thousands Protest Republican Convention

Voice of America
Aug 29 2004

Tens of Thousands Protest Republican Convention

Kerry Sheridan
New York

A group carrying what was described as 1,000 coffins representing
U.S. dead in Iraq marches past Madison Square Garden during the
anti-Bush march

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, tens of thousands
of protesters took to the streets of Manhattan to speak out against
the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Several dozen bicyclists
were arrested, but a heavy police presence helped keep the march
largely peaceful.

The rally kicked off with a speech by the father of Nick Berg, a
26-year-old American contractor who was beheaded by Iraqi kidnappers
in May. “George Bush must go. He has stolen my son away from me. He
has stolen an election. He has stolen our democracy. He has our
freedom and our security and our peace of mind,” he said.

Many protesters called for American troops to leave Iraq.

A demonstrator flashes the peace sign during a protest organized by
the group United for Peace and Justice in New York

“Iraq for Iraqis! Bring the troops home!”
Some carried coffins draped in American flags, to represent coalition
soldiers killed in Iraq. Others carried a variety of anti-Bush
posters and signs. Some wore their messages on their clothes, like
Zaum Dertaulian, an Armenian-American.

“My shirt says ‘Bush Lie Number Nine: I will acknowledge the 1915
Armenian genocide by the Turks.’ I especially made this because I
feel that America is a land of immigrants, its been stolen from the
Native Americans and since a lot of people here are from other
places, we do need to have a balance of information about every
single indigenous freedom struggle in the world,” he said.

Prior to the demonstration, some New York newspapers had published
reports about the potential for anarchist violence during the march,
which was put together by United for Peace and Justice, an umbrella
group of some 800 organizations.

Protester Jason Kapoor, part of a small group called the No Police
State Coalition, said he read about himself in the paper, but that
his group had no plans to start trouble. “We are one of the so-called
five violent groups that the NYPD intelligence sources said we are
planning violent attacks When all we do is come out here in Union
Square and promote free speech,” he said.

Tens of thousands of police officers filled the streets of New York
City and along the route of the march. Protestor Eva Braiman said it
was clear that police officers came prepared for the worst. “When I
came in this morning from the Bronx, all along 10th Avenue there were
hundreds and hundreds of police with, you know, riot batons and all
kinds of equipment,” she said.

Plenty of demonstrators just came out for a good time, like this
group, called the Radical Cheerleaders.

The marchers passed by Madison Square Garden and then headed back
toward downtown. Sunday’s march was the largest gathering organized
against the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday in
New York, but more demonstrations are planned throughout the week.