Why am I ever surprised?

I wrote this cartoon in 1991. Nothing ever really changes. The cops I talked to today were estimating 100,000 people out there, which means there were probably at least double that, if not more. And it gets, what, a five second mention on the news? Hey, journalists, here’s your damn lede: “In a city which experienced the attacks of 9-11 first hand, hundreds of thousands of citizens braved the cold to say no to war…”

But no, of course not. I don’t know why this surprises me, after so many years.

Oh well. Here are some pictures I took today. (Ladies take note — that handsome fellow in the last thumbnail is none other than young August, who I ran into in one of the protest pens along First Ave.)
(Update: Images removed due to $3800 bandwidth penalty from Earthlink.)

Update: I had a pretty peaceful experience today, apart from a few hairy crowd control moments. Reader Neil Krupnick wasn’t quite as lucky:

Well, you’re right on target about the city’s efforts to try to prevent
people from participating in today’s rally. Here’s my story:

At around 12:30, my friends and I headed up 3rd Avenue, trying to find a block that was open to head east. At 53rd, the swelling crowd became completely bottlenecked. After about 10 minutes, the crowd began chanting: “Whose Streets? Our Streets” and the cops eventually gave in and opened up the barriers between 3rd and 2nd. The crowd was elated and cheered. Even during the bottleneck, the mood remained peaceful and festive. As far as I could see, the cops were never threatened.

As we began heading to 2nd Avenue, I saw a cop rush toward 3rd Avenue and yell into his walkie talkie: “We just lost 53 and 54.” I probably should have recognized this as warning of things to come, but I was just so happy to be actually heading toward the rally. When we got to 2nd Avenue, we came upon another bottleneck. At this point, two of my friends decided to call it a day, seeing as they had their baby boy with them — it was simply just too crowded. They made the right decision.

The remaining four of us moved toward the center of the avenue (we were cold and the sun was shining in the middle of the block). We could see a police barrier between 2nd and 1st, reinforced by 4 or 5 policemen on horses. Suddenly, approaching from the south, we saw cops in riot gear coming toward us. Instead of stopping when they got to the crowd and asking us to move, the riot police immediately starting pushing and shoving, first with their forearms and then with their batons. We tried to tell them that there was nowhere to move but that just made the cops angrier. Ultimately, I was pushed toward the police barrier with the horses (I lost my friends in the confusion). To avoid being pushed into the horses, I followed the flow of the crowd toward the barrier. Of course the cops at the barrier were furious at us, yelling for us to get back, and completely unaware that it was their brothers, New York’s “Finest”, who were shoving us toward them. Ultimately, our forward momentum was too much for the physical barrier and we were carried into the block. Some people began running toward 1st Avenue, others walked calmly and others were actually tackled by the police. I got to the sidewalk and never looked back.

At 1st Avenue, guess what? Another bottleneck. Fortunately, the cops let us through so we could join the rally (the crowd on 1st Avenue who were being held back from advancing toward the rally stage cheered for us). It was great to finally be a part of the actual rally and I was relieved that I didn’t get trampled or tackled back at 2nd Avenue. The only remaining bummer was Pete Seeger inexplicably trying to get the crowd to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”