Million Youth MarchBy Jose B. Rivera
September 5, 1998 - The Million Youth March held in Harlem today has revealed a good many things about the Mayor of the City of New York. Nothing new was learned about the March organizers. Everyone already knew of Mr. Muhammad’s wrong ideas. But even this author supports his right to hold a rally, as provided by our constitution.
The March/Rally was a peaceful event. Speaker after speaker addressed their speeches to the little youth participating in the rally. Some espoused more rhetoric than others. And many of the speakers tried to be positive by talking about the need for youth to attend school and protect each other.
The negative aspects of the March/Rally were what some people called “hate” speech free speech non-the-less, and of course how Mayor Giulliani reacted. This writer will cover both aspects.
First, the label “hate” speech. I will be the first to admit that I do not agree with Minister Khalid Muhammad’s ideas. But that is all they are, ideas, concepts, a frame of reference. To label anything “hate” is to judge and condemn it. And who is to determine what is “hate”. This writer’s Christian beliefs are labeled hate by some of the more ultraliberal in society. The danger in labeling anything “hate” and not a “bad idea” “or an idea without merit”, or “ignorance” is that sooner or later, somebody’s ideas will clash with your own and you will be the holder of a “hate” philosophy.
The best way to handle “ideas or concepts” without merit is in the public domain, in dialog. People like Khalid Muhammad can simply be ignored. His ideas can be debated in public discourse and discarded if found lacking. (Yes I do find them lacking). But he has the right to free speech (God given, to all of us). The right to free speech is among many given to us upon birth, by God. No government has the right to give us the right to free speech nor does any government have the right to deny anyone the right to free speech. That the right is mentioned in the Constitution is irrelevant. The Constitution only points out a matter of fact, that our rights come from God.
This is where the Mayor comes in. The City of New York can slightly modify our rights for matters of safety. The city can not become an impediment in the exercise of those rights. Mayor Giulliani became a petty man over this March/Rally. Instead of ignoring it, he put it up to the light. Instead of taking the high ground, he sunk lower than his opponent. The following are a list of major mistakes the Mayor committed in his personal battle with Mr. Muhammad.
Tried to deny American citizen’s from holding a rally and had to be taken to court so that American citizen’s could exercise their right to assemble. (Sound like Germany or Italy in the 1930s? An Italian Mayor should have a longer and better memory).
Tried to appeal the court’s decision to allow the March.
Closed all subways in the March area for “safety” reasons. I don’t recall the subway’s being closed for any other reason, including major parades which host a lot more participants.
The Mayor had vast numbers of city workers (HHC and other city services) work this labor day weekend because of the March. The hospitals from East Harlem to the Bronx were put on alert for an emergency that no one thought would occur (and they didn’t, did they). Of course the Mayor almost precipitated an emergency by having the police rush the stage and the crowd.
Had the police make it difficult for March/Rally participants to enter the area of the event, having citizens go from blocked corner to blocked corner.
Had the event area divided in such a way that groups of people were contained and not able to freely move about.
There was a large police presence at the event, which was both unnecessary and judgmental about the inhabitants of Harlem and about African-Americans in general. This time the label racists may stick when applied to the Mayor for not trusting the people of Harlem to behave.
Not allowing March/Rally participants to leave the event area at 4:00 PM. People were restricted from leaving the area by police, for no known reason. (Nazi Germany comes to mind again).
Ending the March abruptly at 4:00 PM as if the world depended on it. Again, parades come to mind. Parades are issued permits and they usually do not end on time. Do you ever see police abruptly ending parades to the letter of the law and to the minute? Would the Mayor do this to his middle class constituents, to Jewish leaders, to Italian leaders, to any other group? This writer thinks not. By the way this writer is a strong supporter of Israel and rabid reader of Jewish history. But I did want to make the point about the Mayor’s behavior to African-Americans as oppose to his behavior towards other groups.
Having the NERVE to want to issue arrests to those who wished to continue the March/Rally long enough to end it properly. This is where the Mayor’s PETTINESS showed. Mr. Mayor, you are one big BABY. Instead of gaining the upper Moral ground and later saying that the March/Rally organizers did not keep their word to end the event at 4:00, you choose to create tension, and get back at the organizers - he wanted to “show them” who is the boss. Oh, what a Man we have in the Mayor. In this writer’s opinion, the Mayor is not a Man, but a small child with a large responsibility he is incapable of discharging properly
The Mayor had the cojones to attend a church service for Sister Teresa, while his Gestapo tactic were being deployed at the March/Rally. Sounds a little like the last few minutes of the Godfather movies.
This writer has been supportive of some of the Mayor’s policies of the past. Until today, the Mayor seemed a man of common sense. A little rough on the edges, but common sense non-the-less. But this writer thinks that the Mayor showed his true colors in his opposition to the March/Rally. He also showed his total disregard for people of Color. No, the Mayor is not color blind, but exactly the opposite. He is only too keenly aware of people of color and he readily showed how he feels they should be dealt with.
Due to the Mayor’s total disregard of the rights of those in charge of the March/Rally and the residents of Harlem, the following actions need to be taken until the Mayor apologizes to us all. This set of action can be called civil disobedience.
The Mayor showed not be acknowledged in public.
The Mayor’s movement should be restricted. Whenever in public those members of the public present should block whatever exit points exists to give the Mayor a taste of what he gave thousands today in Harlem.
The Mayor’s speeches should be followed by no applause.
The Mayor and the Police Commissioner should be taken to Federal Court over the police action at the end of the March. They should be sued for using excessive force and for taking actions which could have led to a riot. Their actions smack of racism.
The Mayor should not be allowed in any community where the majority of the residents are people of color. And if he should have the nerve to enter our communities, he should be chased out.
Lastly, the Mayor should be removed from office. Because of the news coverage of the event, the Mayor will receive more support among some (ultra right) and loose even more support among the average middle class voter. The Mayor revealed himself for what he is. And hopefully, the voters of this nation will appreciate that fact and act on it.
This writer no longer respects the Mayor as a man or as a Mayor (an office like the presidency which has been sullied by it’s current occupant). He is a dangerous man who has abused his power and who has let a personal issue gain control of him. Imagine what would happen if he had the nuclear codes? He should be run out of office and be held accountable for his racist actions. He owes the people of the city an apology and he should be made to pay monetary damages a fine, for his actions. This writer leaves it in God’s hands. The Mayor is lucky that his fate is not in the hands of man. Such is the luck of all totalitarian “leaders” Jbr.