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United for Peace and Justice is continuing to fight New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD for a rally permit for August 29. We have won a key victory — the City has agreed to let us march directly past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention — but Republican Mayor Bloomberg is still blocking any reasonable rally sites.
• Call Mayor Bloomberg at 212-788-3000 TODAY to demand that he meet with UFPJ and grant a reasonable rally site.
• If you live in New York City, sign the grassroots petition pledging to volunteer time to repair any damage to Central Park if we hold our rally there.
When United for Peace and Justice applied for our permits in June 2003 (that's right, more than a year ago), we requested the use of the Great Lawn in Central Park. The lawn has been the site of many of New York's major events, everything from rock concerts, the NY Philharmonic Orchestra, religious services by the Pope and the Dalai Lama, to some of the largest protest activities in this city's history. For many political and practical reasons we know the Great Lawn is the best location for this rally.
The Parks Department insists that our large numbers will do irreparable damage to the Great Lawn. We do not believe this is the case, but in the interest of resolving the matter, we have now made five different proposals for possible rally locations.
The Great Lawn remains our first choice, but we also suggested the North Meadow (another large area in Central Park, but 15 blocks further north); using both the Great Lawn and the North Meadow, to ease the pressure on each site; Times Square; and Third Avenue, one of the widest avenues in Manhattan. All of our proposals have been rejected.
The city has only one proposal, which we do not like. They want us to rally on the West Side Highway, which runs along the very edge of Manhattan, with our stage at Chambers Street, all the way downtown near the World Trade Center. This location would literally marginalize us, placing us far away from the heart of the city. It also would make for a very long march and a hot and unshaded rally.
On top of this, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly attacked United for Peace and Justice, claiming that we had not submitted our permit applications, that we are refusing to negotiate with the city, and that we have caused the delay in issuing permits to other groups. In fact, we filed our permit requests on June 4, 2003; we have had five meetings with the police, one with the Parks Department, and have requested a meeting with the mayor; and the police have been issuing permits to other groups!
On Tuesday, July 6, The New York Times ran an editorial - its second one - supporting our request for the use of the Great Lawn (see below). We have additional editorial support from the New York Post, El Diario/La Prensa, New York Newsday, and several other NYC papers. Elected officials and other prominent New Yorkers are supporting us.
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