Saturday, February 26, 2011

WISCONSIN SOLIDARITY RALLY, CITY HALL PARK, NEW YORK. Went over to look. I see this guy has a report calling the demo "sucky," with pictures meant to portray the turnout as meager. Don't you believe it:

The crowd stretched up Broadway from the base of the park to Steve Flanders Square, with overflow protesters on the sidewalks across the street -- about the same size as the crowd for the 2009 Tea Party rally I covered for the Voice at this location. The cops say 3,000 attended. Considering how much we New Yorkers are supposed to disdain the rubes in flyover country, that's not a bad show of solidarity. (There was even a bunch of badger signs.)

A lady was handing out these lyric sheets for the expected chants. (Some of the helpers self-identified as members of MoveOn; cut to George Soros and the Koch Brothers playing chess on a cloud, a la Jason and the Argonauts). I didn't hear any of these actually chanted, but I did hear "Tax the Rich," which is destined to become a certified rightwing objet d'outrage, as well as "The Whole World is Watching" and such like. Also some guy warbled "Solidarity Forever," with which the older brethren sang along.

Here's a cute kid, whose protest sign was held by her mother while she drank some water. Alert Michelle Malkin!

Many reporters interviewing people with cheese on their heads. Seconds after this snap, a cheesehead told this Fox journalist to have her cameraman turn around and record the AXIS OF EVIL: KOCH MURDOCH WALKER sign directly behind her. She laughed. You have to have a sense of humor in this business.

I was so far away from the bandstand I couldn't see the speakers, but I did hear Charlie Rangel, Bill de Blasio, Jerry Nadler, Jeff Cantor of the WFP, and a bunch of union people who generally reminded the crowd (in between sound system malfunctions) that a.) the Republicans aren't just coming after the teachers, they're coming after all working people; b.) the bankers and brokers have not been invited to join in this allegedly "shared" sacrifice with the rest of us; and c.) liberty and unions, now and forever, one and inseparable. (I'm paraphrasing.) Every so often an innovation tickled me, e.g. Public Advocate de Blasio's statement that "unlike the national media, I am not fascinated by Chris Christie. I don't think he's an oracle or Moses. I think he's a politician" trying to make a name for himself.

The attendees were in a festive mood. There were plenty of recognizable protest types, covered in buttons and stickers, but there were also plenty of people who just looked like citizens who figured this was as good a use of their time as another. I did not see any union buses, and the overwhelming majority of the ralliers did not conform to the stereotype of union folk -- that is, they neither chomped cigars nor rested on featherbeds nor went around thugging up rightwing activists. So you could call it grassroots, except that the term is now reserved for people in Revolutionary War costumes trying to get rich people a break.

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