(L to R): Carol Husten, Laurie Arbeiter and Ann Shirazi were arrested at the UN wearing
tshirts that said: “We Will Not Be Silent” in various languages. (Photo: Thomas Good)
A couple of blocks away from the large UFPJ rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a Civil Disobedience that centered on Bush’s war crimes went down without alot of fanfare – at least initially. NYPD officers, FBI, dogs, rooftop snipers, Secret Service and a throng of press were present as some 16 protesters were eventually arrested for nonviolent civil resistance – at 44th Street and First Avenue, directly across the street from the UN General Assembly. The CD was timed to coincide with Bush’s speech.
The civil disobedience action was organized by the “Bush Crimes Commission” and “World Can’t Wait”. Participants in the action included the Granny Peace Brigade, the We Will Not Be Silent movement and Iraq Veterans Against The War. Protesters included: Ann Wright, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq War; Elaine Brower (WCW), whose son is a marine serving in Falluja; Father Luis Barrios of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Clark Kissinger (RCP/WCW), Beth Lamont, the American Humanist Association’s UN representative; Beverly Rice, Carol Husten and Ann Shirazi of the Granny Peace Brigade; Laurie Arbeiter of We Will Not Be Silent and Geoff Millard of IVAW.
The action began around 12 Noon on September 19th. Calling Bush a war criminal and demanding his arrest, anti-war protesters hugged the barricades on 44th Street holding signs and a large black umbrella which had “We Will Not Be Silent” painted on it. (‘We will not be silent’ is the English translation of ‘Wir schweigen nicht’ – a slogan of the White Rose, an anti-Nazi group whose members were eventually executed by Hitler). Some demonstrators apparently crossed the barricades in an attempt to make their voices heard – and their signs visible to the UN. One activist, Elaine Brower, was thrown back into the crowd by police – where she landed on a grandmother named Carol Husten. Husten, an elderly woman, was knocked off her feet and two other protesters struggled to help her get back up. Grandmother Beverly Rice was pulled roughly through the barricades by police who then promptly arrested her – for crossing the barricade.
While this was occurring an Iraq War Veteran named Geoff Millard simply walked into the ‘secure area’ – finding himself between the NYPD, FBI and Secret Service and the UN itself. Millard told NLN that he was: “tackled, kicked in the forehead and hit with rifle butts” multiple times. Arrested for disorderly conduct he was nylon flex-cuffed so tightly that his circulation was cut off. The following day Millard said that he still couldn’t “feel (his) left thumb”. Millard, who served in the 45th Infantry Division, NY State National Guard, fell when he attempted to climb into the police van. Rather than help him up the NYPD charged him with resisting arrest.
“I fell at the paddy wagon and for this they charged me with resisting arrest,” said Millard who fought in Iraq from October 2004 until October 2005. Millard was released on his own recognizance and will go to trial on November 8, 2006. At his arraignment, Millard was offered a plea deal: plead guilty to the disorderly conduct violation and do two days of community service and the resisting charge would go away. Millard, outraged, declined the deal.
After the arrest of Rice and Millard, the remaining protesters formed a line in front of the barricades and began chanting: “Arrest Bush, torture is illegal…” and “Bush is a war criminal, we will not be silent”. Police sealed the area – pushing press into pens – and brought in vans and uniforms armed with flex cuffs. NYPD Lt. Wolf issued an order to disperse through a bullhorn and then ordered the arrest of the 13 nonviolent activists. The 13 arrested in the second wave of arrests were all processed at Midtown North (on 54th Street) were they were charged with disorderly conduct and given DATs (desk appearance tickets). They will be arraigned on October 17th at 100 Centre Street. Ironically, this is the anniversary of the Times Square Recruiting Center arrest of the Granny Peace Brigade – a case they ultimately won.