Sunday afternoon’s “World Says No to the Bush Agenda” march, in which half a million people took to the streets in New York City to protest the GOP convention and the Bush administration’s policies, did precisely what Republican officials had hoped it wouldn’t: Steal the show while taking place in an orderly and, most importantly, non-violent fashion.
While 400 protesters were arrested, only one police officer was injured, a remarkable achievement considering how many people had been involved in the march for peace. All involved kept the protests peaceful, an important feat considering the message the march was meant to convey.
Criticism of New York City officials who attempted to stop, or at least hinder ,the protests had been made public long before the protests started, most notably that of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican who also spoke at the GOP convention.
The city refused to give protesters the right to use Central Park as a location for their protests, claiming the grass of the park may be damaged.
In retrospect, it is clear that such ridiculous reasoning was only an excuse to keep numbers small, as rock concerts and other events regularly take place in the same park. Organizers of the protests also speculated city officials had intended to spread the protests out across the city in order to make participants appear fewer in number and convey an image of disorganized mobs rather than a large protest with a clear message.
Nevertheless, the protest was the largest the nation has ever seen in connection with a political convention. A clear message of peace was sent and the GOP convention, which had been planned for months, was upstaged — at least for that day.