Madison Square Garden in New York City Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004
|For the first time Republicans
convention in New York City. Some 50,000 delegates, officials,
and guests gathered in the Big Apple from Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004
did tens of thousands of protesters. RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie
a major aim of the convention is to "set out an agenda for the future"
in contrast to the "very biographical" convention held by the
"We do want to say what we're going to do in the next four years,"
stated in an August 19 conference call. In the call Gillespie set
out the daily themes of the convention and made the surprise
that Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) will be the keynote speaker. Miller
delivered the keynote address twelve years earlier when the Democrats
Bill Clinton, also in Madison Square Garden. The selection of
gives "an indication of how broad the President's support is,"
Republicans had some very minor dissension in their ranks leading up to the convention. Religious conservatives have expressed concerns that they are not being given due prominence in the convention program. Moderates, led by Republicans for Choice and Log Cabin Republicans, sought to introduce a "Unity Plank" into the platform.
In contrast to Boston, where demonstrators did not have much of an impact, activists opposed to Bush held sizable protests in New York. One of the biggest events was the August 29 march up 7th Avenue organized by United for Peace and Justice. UFPJ, founded in 2002, is "a coalition of more than 800 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to oppose our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building." Myriad other activities were planned. For example, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship planned to hold daily meditation vigils. Billionaires for Bush planned "billionaire flashmobbing" in which "Ruly bands of Billionaires will roam the streets of New York, stopping for three-martini lunches, spontaneous outbursts of ballroom dancing and en-masse shining of shoes." Reporters aligned with the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition and the Indymedia Network provided alternative coverage (>). There were concerns that anarchists may attempt some form disruption and, as in Boston, security was very tight because of concerns about possible terrorist attacks. On a lighter note, NYC & Company, the city's official tourism marketing organization, on August 18 announced the Peaceful Political Activists visitor program which entitled people to receive special offers when shopping.
Democrats were on hand to provide a response in the form of the "American Can Do Better Rapid Response Campaign." (Aug. 10, 2004 press release) Democrats described the Convention as a "masquerade ball," pointing to "the disparity between the extreme agenda George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have pursued for the last four years and the moderate face of their convention."
The Convention took place
major incidents. Convention CEO and Manager Bill Harris later observed that "the
President had a good convention, got a lot of momentum and excitement
out of it." City officials claimed
"a net positive estimated economic impact on New York City’s economy of
$255 million" ($341 million in economic activity and a loss of $86
due to disruptions). The New York Police Department reported
1,827 arrests for Convention-related incidents. The New York
Liberties Union gave the NYPD a "mixed grade" stating
that "police generally did a fine job protecting protest at the
events" but that questionable and inconsistent actions had the effect
stifling dissent and political debate.1
Copyright © 2004 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.