Pin It

What New York can learn from Raleigh 

New York City blew it. More than 15 months after Sept. 11, city officials had a chance to show the world that the Big Apple was once again a place where diversity of opinion was welcome and the First Amendment was respected.

Given the opportunity to host the city's largest anti-war demonstration in years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD did all they could to try to keep the doves from coming to town. The strategy didn't work, as close to 500,000 people took to the streets Feb. 15 to oppose Washington's war plans.

Instead of providing organizers with a parade permit, Bloomberg unleashed riot-gear clad cops throughout midtown Manhattan to bash a few heads, and block thousands of people from getting to the far-too-small rally site near the United Nations. Scores of people hoping to be part of the historic event instead were met by police roadblocks at every corner. Even city buses were not allowed to pass.

Event coordinator Leslie Cagan said Bloomberg and the NYPD may have been following orders from higher ups in the federal government who were perhaps hoping to take some of the steam out of the peace movement.

"I actually think Washington may have had a hand in this," Cagan said Sunday.

Without a parade permit, fewer people might show up, "which makes us look like a smaller anti-war movement," Cagan said.

Contrast what happened in New York with the action taken by Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. Told by police it was too late to get a permit to march in Raleigh, local peace activists contacted Meeker to see if his honor could cut through some red tape.

Meeker spoke to the city manager, who confirmed the parade permit "could be issued administratively," Meeker checked to be sure police could handle things, and the permit was issued at the eleventh hour.

"We're a state capital, and it's our obligation to allow our citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights," Meeker told The Independent. "My role wasn't all that great."

The mayor's role is being appreciated, says Meeker's Boylan Heights neighbors, Jim and Suzanna Stockwell, both among the organizers of the Raleigh demonstration that drew more than 5,000 people out despite the threat of rain to march against war.

The Stockwells said organizers are encouraging people to send thank you e-mails to Meeker.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity


Without black snakes, rodents will proliferate and your coop troubles will increase tenfold. Next time -- and there will always …

by Jo Schmoe on The snake, he dead (Front Porch)

I get pretty violent with squirrels, rabbits and deer destroying my vegetable crops. just sayin'.

by Alyson on The snake, he dead (Front Porch)

Most Read

© 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation