[Marxism] New Paltz protest

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 20 16:19:23 MST 2005

 From the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter


A crowd of 1,700 people ‹ a large proportion of them youth ‹ took part in an
antiwar demonstration in the upstate village of New Paltz March 19 to
commemorate the second anniversary of the unjust, illegal invasion and
occupation of Iraq.

Some 65 organizations from seven counties participated in the ad hoc March
19 coalition that sponsored a march and rally in Hasbrouck Park.  The
coalition was initiated by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter (where a
full account of the events will be carried in its next issue.)

The rally was followed by a colorful march of 1,200 demonstrators through
village streets, lead by a marching band.  Chants  such as ³Racist, Sexist,
Anti-Gay, Bush and Cheney Go Away!² and the old favorite, ³What do we want ‹
PEACE.  When do we want it? NOW," provided the sound when the band rested.

Local news coverage of the event was unusually robust.

The Times Herald-Record (Orange county) the next day published a huge color
photo spread over pages 2 and 3.  An accompanying article (reproduced below)
captured the mood of the day.)

The Poughkeepsie Journal (Dutchess county) published a photo on page 1 and
two more photos (including one of a small counter protest) on page 1B, along
with a 19-inch account of the protest.

The Kingston Freeman (Ulster county) also carried a front page photo plus
seven photos occupying most of page 3.

The press accounts estimated the crowd as ³hundreds and hundreds,² but the
1,700 estimate by the organizers is correct.  One veteran of many such
events climbed to the top of playground monkey bars nears the stage and she
calculated the size sector by sector to arrive at this figure.  Meanwhile,
another activist slowly walked through the crowd from end to end and
independently arrived at the same conclusion.

Following is the account published in the Times Herald-Record:

March 20, 2005

Crowds make plea for peace
Rally marks Iraqi war anniversary

     By Michael Kruse
    Times Herald-Record
     mkruse at th-record.com

    New Paltz ­ They came from all over the region, from seven surrounding
counties, from some 65 organizations ­ hundreds and hundreds of people ­ and
they gathered yesterday here at Hasbrouck Park to make a plea for peace.
    Around the country ­ around the world ­ the two-year anniversary of the
start of the Iraqi war came coupled with rallies, protests and
    And here, at our region's biggest event, with a whole gaggle of
banner-waving folks standing on a muddy field under sunny skies, outspoken
Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey added to his ongoing assault on the Bush
    "They are collectively the most corrupt and the most incompetent leaders
this country has ever had!" he said, and his voice came through the black
speakers next to the stage and out over the crowd.
    "The most corrupt ­"
    "The most incompetent ­"
    Even louder.
    "In American history!"
    From the back of the field, on a hill, the smaller, pro-war contingent
made some noise:
    "USA! USA! USA!"
    So it went yesterday, here in the mid-Hudson's unofficial capital of the
rousing of rabble.
    This is a place, of course, where people buy tie-dye at the Groovy
Blueberry, where Main Street has side-by-side yoga studios, where young,
long-haired men play guitar while barefoot on their porch.
    New Paltz has a long history of this sort of scene, of being at the
left-leaning, hard-charging forefront of socially controversial issues ­
most recently, obviously, with Mayor Jason West's gay marriages last year.
    Yesterday, even before noon, cars began swinging onto Main Street.
    A Civic with a back seat packed with signs on sticks.
    A Subaru with rolled-up banners stretching from the dashboard to the
    In the long line for Starbucks' unisex bathroom, Nancy Wolf from
Saugerties held her sign.
    One side: Shame.
    The other: Impeach Bush.
    Warwick's Tula Tsalis stood two back. "I think that's a good idea," she
    Up the hill, in the village police station, Chief Raymond K. Zappone said
he was ready with his officers, more from the town, state troopers, even
help from the county sheriff's office.
    Over at Hasbrouck Park, with an hour to go, volunteers from Jack Smith's
"March 19 Coalition" set up big yellow banners:
    End the Occupation of Iraq.
    Bring The Troops Home Now.
    Orange County Peace and Justice had an even larger, white vinyl sign tied
to the backstop on the baseball diamond: "Is Democracy In Jeopardy?"
    As more and more people filled the field, as the grass got softer, then
just sloppy, Wayne Umstetter from Port Jervis held a simple white sign with
black block letters ­ Pray For Peace ­ while staring at the mobilizing
counter-protesters, who had plenty of signs of their own.
    One of them: "God and the Marines give you the right to sing your commie
    Speeches started around 1 p.m.
    Smith, the chairman, opened by calling the war "unjust and illegal."
    West, still the most recognizable face here; Esperanza Gonzalez, a SUNY
New Paltz student; Mike Rifkin, the vice president of the powerful Local
1199 ­ they were among the long list of speakers.
    But Hinchey was the keynote.
    Earlier in the day, he'd said on the phone from his Hurley home that he
was going to talk about "the lack of validity and the deceit and deception"
of the war and "the continued corruption" of the current administration.
    And he was true to his word, speaking the loudest and the longest.
    "We want an end to this war!" the SUNY New Paltz grad said. "We want our
country back!"
    Down next to the wooden platform, Kitty Brown, a New Paltz town
councilwoman, looked at Steve Greenfield, the secretary of the Green Party
here and the guy in charge of the sound.
    "People are saying louder," Brown said. "Is that possible?"
    Hinchey kept going ­ volume high, volume higher ­ about the amount of
money spent in Iraq in contrast with education, the environment and health
    The shouts, shrill and angry and loud, came from the crowd.
    "They have lied!" Hinchey continued. "They have lied to the Congress!
They have lied to the American people!"
    Jack Smith started to walk with a blue clipboard toward the time-keeper ­
and Matt Corsaro smiled, looked at Smith and just shrugged his shoulders.
    "He's on a roll," he said.

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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