Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest During Republican Convention

by TChris

Documents suggest that New York City Mayor Bloomberg lied when he denied that politics played any part in his decision to deny protesters access to the Great Lawn in Central Park during the 2004 Republican Convention. The Bloomberg administration claimed to be "motivated by a concern for the condition of the expensively renovated Great Lawn or by law enforcement's ability to secure the crowd," even though documents produced in a lawsuit show that the police preferred to have protestors gathered together in that location.

Those documents ... suggest that officials were indeed motivated by political concerns over how the protests would play out while the Republican delegates were in town, and how the events could affect the mayor's re-election campaign the following year. ...

[T]he documents, which are part of the lawsuit brought by the National Council of Arab Americans and the Answer Coalition, an antiwar civil rights group, indicate that politics and appearances were at the center of the administration's strategy and that Mr. Bloomberg was more intimately involved in the discussions over demonstrations in the park than he said.

"It is very important that we do not permit any big or political events for the period between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6, 2004," read one Parks Department e-mail message, referring to issuing permits for the days framing the convention. "It's really important for us to keep track of any large events (over 1,000 people), and any rallies or events that seem sensitive or political in nature."

Bloomberg denied having any knowledge "regarding the denial of a Parks Department permit to" the National Council of Arab Americans. He now claims to have forgotten receiving this email from the Parks Commissioner:

"Following your call, I spoke to Ray about 10 minutes ago," Mr. Benepe wrote, referring to Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner. "Coincidentally, our lawyer and Chief McManus and the Law Department are meeting at this very minute to agree on the language and strategy of the letter rejecting the Arab-American rally on the Great Lawn," Mr. Benepe continued, referring to Assistant Chief John B. McManus, who oversaw Police Department strategy for the convention.

Mr. Benepe's message added: "I assume the rejection letter will go out today. I will let you know."

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    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:21:56 PM EST
    Oldtree speaks the truth.

    Do you guys even think before writing?" Oltree says, and Che's Lounge agrees - "Bloomberg intends to keep his office until someone pays a higher price?" I guess term limits aren't what they used to be. As for the rich buying there way into office - David Dinkins isn't an exactly rich person, nor was Guiliani before he became Mayor. Yes, money is a factor, but Ross Perot never became present. Don't misunderestimate ideas and passion as motivating factors to elections. Lamont isn't winning the primary because he's rich...Nor will he lose the general election because he's rich...

    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 01:03:18 PM EST
    I think Bloomberg is not comparable to Dinkins Guiliani, Perot or Lamont. Berlusconi, well, that is not a bad comparison at all.

    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimcee on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 03:26:38 PM EST
    Gosh, How many marched in the anti-war demonstration that was held during the convention? 100,000? 200,000? So exactly how did the 'jackbooted' Bloomberg stifle free speech? More? My favorite part of the demonstration? The fellow who was at the very end of the parade just before the cops in thier Cushman carts brought up the rear. When he saw the C-Span camera he cried out, "George Bush You can kiss my @ss!" Of course that is when the Bloomberg SS troops descended on him, beat him to a jelly and carted him off to the Gulag. Oh wait that last bit didn't happen. When Left wing dingbats post this kind of stuff they just prove how delusional they really are.

    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 03:45:30 PM EST
    1800 arrests just for the fun of it? The NYC police were out of control and now we know why: Bloomberg

    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#7)
    by jimcee on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 08:08:27 PM EST
    Sqeaky, 1,800 arrests can be seen in two lights. 1) Did they do anything that might be considered disruptive? 2) Was everyone nice and polite and did not try to disrupt anything? oh, 3) Since there were innumerable folks in NYC to protest, possibly a half a million or so and one half of one percent were arrested that seems a pretty low average. When one considers the '68 Chicago riots with the violence on both sides and the mass round-up of protesters, the NYC 2004 situation looks pretty good to me. By the bye, the Chicago riots were at the '68 Democratic Convention and it was a Democrat Mayor Daley who called out the riot squads. That certain folks are trying to make the 2004 NYC situation seem as if it was the '68 Chicago debacle is ludicrious. People were allowed to protest in an orderly fashion in NYC but they weren't allowed to use Central Park and many were arrested because they chose to try anyway. Same thing at Hearld Square and they too were arrested. It seems to me that if a few hundred thousand people are allowed to march past the venue (MSG) in protest of the war and of the Republican National Convention then it would seem that free speech was heard loud and clear. Excepting of course for those that refuse to hear.

    Re: Bloomberg Played Key Role in Stifling Protest (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 08:18:41 PM EST
    Jimcee-I was there. There were little if no disruptive protests. The police forced peaceful protesters into traps and then arrested them all. It was outrageous, the police acted badly. Bloomberg now can take credit. Your comparison to Chicago is absurd.