The second day of the Republican National Convention began on this day ten years ago in New York City. Protests groups had promised a day of action across the city to express their displeasure at President George Bush and the War in Iraq. Down in lower Manhattan the War Resisters League organized a march that was to begin at Ground Zero and end with a die-in up at Madison Square Garden where the RNC was being held. However, that didn’t quite work out as planned. About 400 of the lead protesters crossed over onto Fulton Street from Ground Zero and marched half a block before they were stopped by police and ordered to disperse. After a few moments a captain in the NYPD declared that everyone standing on Fulton Street was all under arrest. He ordered members of media off the sidewalk. Police on bicycles surrounded the protesters. Pretty soon the police surrounded the protesters with orange netting and the bicycle cops donned their riot gear and lined up to begin arresting people. I attempted to step off the sidewalk but was stopped by the police. I walked to the head of the line and found the commanding officer. I showed him my press pass and asked if I may step off the sidewalk. He looked at it and turned to the line of cops behind him in riot gear and said “Who is my first arresting officer?” A young officer stepped up and said “Me sir.” “Alright, arrest this man.” The officer took an industrial strength zip-tie placed my arms behind my back and secured my hands together with the zip-tie. I was the first one arrested that day down on Fulton Street, August 31, 2004. I spent about about 24 hours incarcerated and was never told what I had done that was unlawful. Eventually, I was charged with disorderly conduct but soon, as with all the others arrested, these charges were dropped. Please enjoy the slideshow below of the photos I made that day. Also included is a bonus picture, me and my arresting officer- officer Martinez. All told, about 900 people were arrested across New York City that day. A class action lawsuit was brought against the city by those arrested which resulted in one of the largest civil rights settlements in the city’s history. The city paid out 18 million dollars to settle the suit. For more details about that click here. To see video of the events at ground zero click here. Also, as an interesting historical note Fulton Street was the site of one of the first clashes between British soldiers and Colonists that helped spark the Revolutionary War. Click here to read about that.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org