|No press showed up, no permit, but plenty of police. Five Hundred marchers parade down Fifth Avenue demanding the TRUTH. We're calling for YOU to organize TRUTH MARCHES in your community.
First U.S. Truth March Roars Down Fifth Avenue
(New York City, May 4, 2003) Five hundred vocal activists paraded down Fifth Avenue on Sunday, decrying the U.S. government’s propaganda behind a “war based on lies and murder.”
”All I want is the Truth, just give us some Truth” marchers half-sang and half-shouted, using John Lennon’s words, as they roared.
Down the sidewalk alongside Central Park, across from the condos of some of the wealthiest families in New York, including the home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Eighteen drummers pounded out the rhythms of revolution on five-gallon water-containers and olive oil cans, as they passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fifth Avenue shopping and tourist mecca in midtown, and through the theater district.
A dozen “Truth” bicyclists escorted the march on the far side of the police lines, and provided advance scouts and communication teams.
The day began with a “youth convergence” at noon sponsored by Not In Our Name youth, at Central Park’s East Meadow despite the refusal of the NYC Parks Department to grant a permit. At around 2:30 pm, the marchers began lining up behind the large lead banner, which said simply: “TRUTH” in 4-foot high white letters on black background.
Another banner said “Pirates for Truth”. Others distributed hundreds of pastel-colored posters with the word “Truth” in large letters across the top, and different questions below on each, including: Corporate war profiteering? Endless War?, Revoking the Bill of Rights?, Mass Detentions of Immigrants?, Slash Social Programs to Pay for War?, Manipulating 9-11?, Bush-Cheney’s Stolen Election?, and Who Owns the Media?
As the Truth March passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a paper-mache statue of George Bush was assembled at record speed amidst the crowd of hundreds of onlookers and police that had gathered on the Museum’s steps, and arose some 14-feet tall before you could say “Saddam Hussein”. One activist (reportedly from Brooklyn) draped an Earth Flag over his head and, without the help of a US crane, toppled the statue. Dozens took part in joyous dancing on top if it. The parade continued, with marchers dragging the statue’s head and other parts through the streets, to the cheers of many onlookers.
Despite two weeks of negotiations, the NYC officials had refused to grant a permit for the youth convergence. The Truth Seekers, utilizing the negotiating skills of civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, declared their intent to express their views regardless. An uneasy verbal agreement was reached with the NY Police Department at the 11th hour when police informed the Truth March Coalition that they would be allowed to march so long as they took up no more than half the sidewalk.
As the marchers came to the beginning of the Park at 60th Street, a huge contingent of police on scooters and foot were waiting to escort them further, as marchers chanted: “Hey Bush, you smoke crack, get the fuck out of Iraq!”
The group, growing in size, continued down Fifth Avenue until it reached Rockefeller Center, passing the offices for the Carlyle Group, NBC, FOX, General Electric and the CNN “ticker” en route. It then headed west along 49th Street, and then up 8th Avenue. The marchers had lasted for four miles, passing thousands of people, most of whom were surprisingly sympathetic to the messages presented. It reached its final destination -- Columbus Circle -- at around 5 pm, and began in impromptu, non-permitted rally.
Mitchel Cohen, an organizer of the march representing the Greens/Green Party USA, stood atop the steps at a fountain and, without microphone, addressed the crowd: “Please repeat after me.” The front rows did exactly that, and created a human amplifier. Mitchel said: “We are here to commemorate the murders 33 years ago today, of four students at Kent State University and two students at Jackson State a week later. They were peaceably assembling at a rally similar to ours against the war on Vietnam -- a war that the US government continues today in Iraq and elsewhere. Those students were part of a movement against war, a movement which continues today not only here in the U.S. but in huge numbers all over the world. Let us remember them: Sandi Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller, Alison Krause, William Schroeder, Phillip Gibbs, James Green -- the latter two killed at Jackson State in Mississippi.
With the drums blazing, the crowd cheering, shouting, remembering, Mitchel continued to outline the demands of the march, and concluded: “What we do today IS significant. This is the first of what we hope will become an avalanche of TRUTH MARCHES all over the country, through which people -- regardless of their views on any single issue -- could participate in demanding the Truth, in BEING the Truth to bring an end to what has become a government of lies and murder.” Mitchel concluded with “All power to the people,” and an impromptu open-mike (without a mike) rally commenced that lasted for another hour, with the drums that, like our hearts, never stopped beating.
Despite a heavy media outreach, no corporate press covered the march.
The Truth March website www.truthmarch.org will post photographs from the march over the next few days. It will also provide stories and links to other sites that are exposing the TRUTH behind the lies.
The Truth March Coalition consisted of a number of groups including No Blood for Oil, More Gardens!, Brooklyn Greens, the Greens/Green Party USA, Not In Our Name Youth, The Organization, Radical Women, Freedom Socialist Party, Committees of Correspondence, NYC-A.N.S.W.E.R., Time’s Up, Al-Awda, Solidarity, and the M27 Coalition.
New York City Truth March Roars Down Fifth Avenue
By Mitchel Cohen
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 6 May 2003.