On August 31, 2004, The Hollywood Liberal got arrested, along with 200 others, for obeying the police.
OK before we get this started let me get this off my chest: Motherfucking Son of a Bitch, and a Big healthy Fuck You to the NYPD, Michael Bloomberg, George Pataki, and George Bush. The Hollywood Liberal does not usually resort to profanity (at least not on the site) but I am a wee bit ticked off.
Right now I am sitting in the first class cabin of a jet heading back to Hollywood. There are only 2 other people up here with me, so I practically have my own personal manservant for the next 5 hours. 24 hours ago I was sitting in a 10 foot high cage with razor wire all along the top in an old bus terminal at pier 39 of what the NYPD has now affectionately refers as Guantanamo. The cement floor is covered with grease, and oil, and there is asbestos everywhere. There is only enough room for about 15 people to sit on the plastic bench, leaving the other 35 cage members to resort to the floor.
Now you may be wondering how I came to be in this situation, so let me tell you a tale of Democracy, and the First Amendment in George Bushs America. I started off the day browsing the internet to find some protest action to go out and partake in/cover. Having been shut out of the previous days activities due to insufficient information, I wanted to make sure I had some good stuff to write about today. (looks like I found it) There were two events planned that I found. The first was by the War resisters league, for a little meeting in front of the Office of Homeland Security (633 3rd Ave.) It was scheduled for noon. I got there about 12:45 which is usually about right for this type of gig. When I arrived there were plenty of Press, and Police, but only one small problem: no protestors. I waited around a while and talked to 2 guys from the Jim Lehrer News Hour who were also there to cover the event. This was supposed to be a day of civil disobedience, with surprises planned. We speculated that perhaps this was all planned to throw everyone off, while the real protest was going on somewhere else.
By 1:00 we knew this was a dead scene so I left to take care of a few things before getting the E train down to The World Trade Center. The big event of the day was put on by a group called A31, whom I had never heard of, but apparently had a reputation for being somewhat radical. The stories in the papers and online said that members of the group were going to dress in white, and perform an act of civil disobedience when they arrived at the Garden by staging a "die in." They would lay down in the street (7th Ave.) and block traffic until the cops came and dragged them off to jail. There were supposed to be "surprises" planned that the members of the group would inform each other about minutes before by cell phone and text message. The march would start at the WTC site and head up toward Union Square where more people would join in, and then on to Madison Square Garden where the real action would kick in.
I got to the WTC a little early and people had began to gather. I walked around a little and checked out the crowd. I noticed 4 or 5 guys there wearing military uniforms and looked closer and found out they were part of Iraq Veterans against the War. One of them a young guy of only 19, or 20, named Alex Ryabov was being interviewed by a couple of people, I joined in and taped it on my video cam, and asked a few s of my own. Since I don't have the footage that I shot of the interview I could not review it. I remember most of it by heart anyway. Alex was from Brooklyn and had been doing patrols in Tikrit. He said that he and his fellow soldiers started off gung ho, the attitude was "were going out there to get the bad guys." He soon got a glimpse of reality when he saw how the army treated its soldiers, and when he learned more about what the war was really all about. Alex has finished duty but still has 3 more years of inactive reserve. He said that he will not go back if recalled. I thought that took a hell of a lot of courage by going public like that. If some high level military people got wind of this , they could call him back just to screw with him. I asked if he had any relatives who had fought in previous wars such as Vietnam. This would have been a better for someone from the south, or the midwest, but he told me he was born in Russia, and that his father was in the Russian navy. I asked if his family and friends supported his stand, he said they mostly did because they also understood the nature of the Iraq situation.
A little while while after the interview there were about 1,000 people milling around, there were also many cops there, some with machine guns. I kind of had a bad feeling about what was going to happen. This was partially due to what I had read in the paper about the bicycle protestors, from a couple of days earlier. I had some party favors with me which I got rid of just in case. This was going to be an non permitted march. The day before there was a non permitted demonstration at the U.N. and the cops actually led the crowd through the busy city streets backing up traffic. There was only 1 arrest, and that was of an outside agitator. I was surprised the cops allowed this to march to happen so I really didn't know what to expect, but I did know that unlike some of the people there, I had no intention of getting arrested. I was even wearing a nice black Zegna suit and tie, So I was basically a respectable, though uncredentialed journalist.
A cop got on a bull horn and addressed the crowd: "Ok folks this is an unpermitted march, so we are going to lead the way. Please stay on the sidewalk and obey the traffic laws or you will be subject to arrest. As long as you follow the rules everything will be fine, have a good march." That should have been my first sign to get the hell out of there. Never believe the Police when they tell you anything. The cop then began to lead the marchers that were to start off by crossing the street directly across from the WTC, and head up the road leading toward it. The procession started with people crossing the street and going up on the sidewalk as ordered. By the time the light turned from green to red about 200 marchers had gotten to the sidewalk. Suddenly the same cop from the bullhorn yelled "Everybody stop, seal off the back. You people in the street are all under arrest." Damn I though to myself they are being really hardcore about this. I thought they were arresting the people who kept crossing the street after the light turned red. The people who were already on the side walk, me included, stood there not knowing what was really happening. On the left side of us was a big wrought iron fence that surrounded a cemetery where founding fathers such as Alexander Hamilton were buried. A swarm of cops then moved in on our right completely surrounding us on the 3 non fenced sides. We all stood there for a while still not knowing what was happening. The cops then unrolled a 5 foot high fence made out of net like material and held it up all around us blocking us in, and preventing anyone from leaving the scene if we chose to. Soon the crowd began chanting "Let us disperse." Another couple of minutes later a guy who was one of the leaders of the group announced that it looked like they were arresting all of us.Go To H.L. Does Time Part 2.