Volume 74, Number 19 | September 08 - 14 , 2004

Villager photos by Bob Arihood

What happened on 16th St.: Police arrest hundreds of protesters by Union Sq. on day of ‘direct action’

The Bush Doctrine, as it has come to be known, is a policy of the United States invading countries that could theoretically, at least in the view of the Bush administration, pose a threat. The Bloomberg Doctrine toward protesters last Tuesday during the Republican National Convention also appeared to be one of preemptive strikes.

The A31 Action Coalition had called for a day of civil disobedience on Tues., Aug. 31. Perhaps that’s why the police made hundreds of arrests of protesters from Ground Zero to Herald Sq. that day.

Near Union Sq., police arrested a march led by a musical band that was headed toward Madison Sq. Garden. The march did not have a permit. Police blocked the marchers at the front, then blocked them from the back, and told them to get on the sidewalk. Police waded into the crowd of young demonstrators, pulling out certain individuals, and also used a long, orange, plastic net to pen them in. Protesters and other eyewitnesses gave accounts of police going into the crowd with nightsticks drawn, the sound of sticks smacking against brass instruments and one girl who was wearing a bandana over her mouth being grabbed by her ponytail by police. In New York, it’s illegal for three or more protesters to wear masks while demonstrating.

Sara Duke, 26, from Virginia, was one of two Radical Cheerleaders — a national street-theater protest group — at the march.

“It was supposed to be a street party, about having a good time,” said Duke, who works for the Federal Reserve Bank. “And it seemed like the police were going to escort us once we left the park. There were about 1,000 people. Scooters cut us off on all sides. We were told to sit down and if we tried to leave that we’d be charged with resisting arrest. We had been expecting to be told to disperse. All of a sudden, they started sending in what I call ‘snatch squads,’ picking out the more vocal people, I think, males at first. They were dragging people into the street and hitting them with sticks.”

Duke said a woman was pulled by her ponytail and thrown after demanding, “What are we being charged for?” Duke was held 50 hours at Pier 57 and Central Booking.

“They were very rough,” said photographer Bob Arihood, who took the photos on these pages. “The white shirts [supervising officers] were doing a lot of the arresting. I think they were going after people with bandanas on and particular people — people that they knew or had pictures of. I think some of them put on their bandanas in defiance.”

Unlike other news photographers who reported being pushed around by the police, Arihood wasn’t touched, he believes because he hung back from the action after police gave him a warning.

“We were told ‘You stay here or else,’ ” he said. “This was very scary. It put the fear of God into me.”

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