Return of the Revenge of the Son of the Bride of RNC Protests
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
[Once again, a mixed bag of stories.--DC]
Ex-student arrested at RNC
By Mitra Taj
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Charges 'most serious' yet levied against any convention
A former UA student is being held on $200,000 bail in New
York City following a fight that erupted Sunday between
police and protesters near the site of the Republican
Yusuke Banno, 21, is charged with assault in the first
degree, assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment,
riot in the first degree, resisting arrest, and hindering
riot resistance and obstruction.
Banno completed the spring 2004 semester at the UA as a
political science junior before transferring to Prescott
Community College. Banno was also a member of the Daily
Wildcat staff during his freshman and sophomore years.
An estimated 250,000 protesters were in the streets of New
York on Sunday, the day before the RNC started.
Of all the charges leveled against the approximately 500 RNC
protesters arrested, those against Banno are "the most
serious," said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for the
Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Though Banno isn't charged with arson, Thompson said Banno
and others set fire to a giant papier-mâché dragon she said
they were marching with on Sunday. When police officers
threw smoke grenades and tried to arrest the arsonists, she
said the group blocked police officers.
Thompson said Banno fought with the police officer who
attempted to arrest him and the officer's hand got caught in
the burning float, resulting in third-degree burns and
possible nerve damage.
After his arraignment Monday, Banno's bail was set at
$200,000 bond or $100,000 cash.
Newsday reported that the two others arrested with Banno,
Nicholas Klinovski and Nathan Eberts, are being held on
$20,000 and $10,000 bond, respectively.
But those who know Banno, who also goes by Josh, and were
with him at the protest said he's being unfairly accused for
his political beliefs.
"Basically, it's a case of the cops criminalizing political
dissent," said Patrick Bigger, a geography junior and
longtime friend of Banno. "Josh is a good guy and he does
really good things for communities; he fights to make
communities better, not set them on fire."
Banno's friend, Eric Richardson, 32, said he was with Banno
when he was arrested.
Far from fighting with police near the fire, Richardson said
Banno raised his hands when an officer told him he was under
Richardson said he, Banno, and other Tucsonans teamed up in
small groups with people they knew to keep safe and had been
following the papier-mâché dragon as a reference point so
that they wouldn't get lost in the crowd of a quarter
Richardson said he and Banno were at the end of the dragon's
tail when the fire started at the head.
"As we started to run around it, it had a burst," he said.
"I could feel the heat."
Richardson said the two went through an opening in the
street barricade to avoid getting burned.
After they reached the sidewalk, a police officer grabbed
Banno by his backpack straps and told him he was under
arrest. "Josh never struggled," he said. "He just stood there."
Banno's friends said they didn't expect the police to levy
such serious charges against him and hold him on such high bail.
"We didn't think anything of it," Richardson said. "Josh was
very calm, it seemed to be one of those situations of
'they're going to take him in and charge him with unlawful
Walt Staton, a UA alumnus, former Wildcat reporter and a
friend of Banno, said he was at Banno's arraignment Monday.
He said the attorney "made things up" and tried to paint
Banno as an anarchist from Arizona and chief orchestrator of
But Staton said police picked Banno randomly.
"They didn't know who did it and just grabbed people running
away because they had no one to pin it on," he said.
Chad Wellins, a political science senior, Wildcat delivery
driver and friend of Banno's since high school said police
might be trying to blame Banno for the fire because he's
been politically active in the past.
Wellins, who was in New York on Sunday said Banno was
arrested three to five times before, but always for minor
offenses like failure to obey or disturbance of the peace.
In March 2003, Banno and two other students were arrested at
the UA when they locked themselves to the railing of the
Administration building to protest the news of a $1,000
Charges against the three were later dropped.
Wellins said he and Banno were arrested for stepping off the
sidewalk at an anti-capitalist march at Freedom Plaza in
Washington, D.C., in 2002.
Wellins said the RNC protest was "insane."
"I'd never been in a crowd so big in my life," he said.
The dragon, Wellins said, was a good idea in theory. He said
it was painted with words like "Iraq," "Afghanistan" and
"women's reproductive rights," before going up in flames.
"It's an act of political speech," he said. "But it should
have been done in a way that doesn't put anyone in danger."
Wellins said he went to protest Republicans'
"neoconservative plans and the elitist ideologies behind
them and the lack of accountability and degradation of
democratic principles of public officials."
Thompson said Banno will go to court Friday.
Banno's friends said they've started a Josh Banno Defense
Fund to help him pay for legal counsel and bail.
-- Andrea Kelly and Caitlin Hall contributed to this report.
Float linked to radical NY group
By Caitlin Hall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Former UA student Yusuke Banno, 21, was arraigned Monday on
charges stemming from a confrontation with New York City
police outside the Republican National Convention on Sunday.
Though Banno is not being charged with arson, the events
leading to his arrest occurred shortly after the green
dragon papier-mâché Banno and others were leading through
midtown Manhattan was set on fire, prompting protesters to flee.
The green dragon float was the brainchild of a New York
City-based activist group, Greene Dragon. According to
Newsday, the group has come under police scrutiny of late
for possible connections to violent political protest. It
was reported by the New York Daily News that the group had
been infiltrated by undercover detectives from the New York
Police Department in the months leading up to Sunday's
incident and that several of its members had been identified
as making "direct threats of violence against the city."
In statements to New York's Village Voice, "General" Jonny
American, one of the founders and organizers of the group,
described Greene Dragon's purpose as "(taking) democracy
back from the corporations and (giving) it to the people."
The group additionally identified itself as "a fun and
freewheeling independence movement from President-Select
George II and his corporate monarchy."
The group is named for the Green Dragon, a pub that once
stood in Boston. The pub was the meeting place of many
American revolutionaries, including John and Samuel Adams
and the Sons of Liberty. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the
Boston Tea Party was planned on the premises of the Green
Dragon, and when Paul Revere took his famous midnight ride,
he started out at the pub. The pub is frequently called the
"Headquarters of the American Revolution," and its name has
taken on symbolic significance for modern-day activists who
vehemently oppose the actions of the federal government.
Conservative 'Protest Warriors' Take On The Left At RNC March
09.01.2004 6:03 AM EDT
NEW YORK -- On Saturday evening, a group of roughly 75
people gathered on a Manhattan rooftop a few blocks north of
Madison Square Garden, chatting and helping themselves to a
generous spread. The next day, hundreds of thousands of
protesters would march past the Garden, site of the
Republican National Convention, hurling invectives toward
the party and its candidate.
This particular group was in town to take part in those
protests. They ranged in age from 15 to 55 and had traveled
from locales as far flung as San Francisco, Kentucky and
Canada. But the avowed sentiment for the meeting was hardly
along the lines of the majority of marchers. There were
members of ProtestWarrior.com, a conservative group
dedicated to taking on the anti-war left on its own turf: at
"These people want us to fail in Iraq," said Alan Lipton,
30, one of ProtestWarrior.com's founders.
Lipton clambered atop a ledge to call the meeting to order:
"There are 200,000 of them; there's 200 of us -- that's a
fair fight!" His co-founder, 30-year-old Kfir Alfia, and
27-year-old Tom Paladino, the group's chapter leader for New
York, then explained the various tactics for dealing with
the police and their ideological nemeses.
"The cops are sympathetic to us," declared Paladino, "but if
you get into a fight, they don't care who started it. You
will be arrested. Just accept it."
"If you are attacked," added Lipton, "by all means defend
ProtestWarrior.com now counts its membership at around
7,200, typically college students, recent graduates and high
school kids. They have staged nearly 80 "missions" around
the country, involving street theater, head-on debate with
protesters, and tongue-in-cheek posters like one reading
"Saddam only kills his own people; It's none of our
business" and "Except for ending slavery, fascism and
communism, war has never solved anything."
Lipton and Alfia have known each other since they were
kindergartners at a Dallas Hebrew school. The pair founded
ProtestWarrior.com in March 2003, although both maintain
that their interest in politics is longstanding. "We've
always believed that freedom is the way to go," said Lipton,
a former graduate student in film.
ProtestWarrior.com supports classic conservative values like
economic liberty and the rule of law, but the group's focus
is on supporting the Iraq War and quelling "Islamo-fascism"
a term coined by the writer Christopher Hitchens to describe
militant Muslims like al Qaeda.
"This group," said ProtestWarrior.com member John Paul, a
22-year-old Canadian student, "is not necessarily for Bush.
It's for America. When I found out that John Kerry could be
president, that really scared me. We need somebody with
balls and who won't pussy-foot around like some European
country . . . or Canada!"
The next day, the Protest Warriors met at 26th Street and
Seventh Avenue, where a permit allowed them to congregate
alongside the march. People bearing placards reading "Bush
is responsible for Abu Ghraib" and "Keep that scumbag out of
my city" passed by, roundly booing the Protest Warriors.
"It's the same stuff as always," shrugged Paladino. "They
say we're Nazis and fascists harassing them."
Michael Vincent, a 41-year-old actor from New York embedded
with the Protest Warriors, wore a T-shirt reading "F--s for
Bush." He in particular drew the venom of protestors, one of
whom raised his middle finger toward Vincent, calling him
insane. "Marriage is a 5,000-year-old religious covenant
between men and women," Vincent said.
Soon, a series of Protest Warrior squadrons joined the
march. Paladino said the one he led encountered a protester
who grabbed and smashed his bullhorn; another Warrior
claimed he was spat upon. Yet another claimed that he had
been ambushed by four "anarchists" who pummeled his head.
Eventually the Warriors regrouped at 34th Street and Sixth
Avenue, this time joined by an affiliate group, Communists
for Kerry. Each wore a T-shirt with the likeness of Che
Guevara, and each posed as socialist icons supporting of the
Kerry-Edwards ticket. One, Julia Shafer, 37, from Fort Lee,
New Jersey, said she was an insurance defense lawyer who
"defends this country from the likes of John Edwards," who
made his fortune on personal injury lawsuits. "I'm not
willing to die because [the protesters] won't wake up" to
the dangers of ignoring terrorism, she added.
Again, the protesters passing by took note of the Protest
Warriors; when the latter chanted "Four more years!" the
former responded with "Four more wars!" A man wearing a John
Ashcroft mask began to debate Alfia, who repeatedly asked
the man to show his face. The exchange was captured by none
other than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Finally, as the march wound down, a protester ran up along
the barrier where the Protest Warriors had encamped and
ripped a placard out of a Warrior's hands, ripping it to
shreds. The offender then fled, only to be tackled by
police, which amused the Protest Warriors greatly.
-- Rob Kemp
Fairfield County Weekly
Tales from the RNC Protest
Prepared for the worst, a good time was had by all.
by Jessica Wakeman
September 2, 2004
A little black smoke goes a long way in a culture defined by
What's that smell?" I thought. I'm usually adept at
identifying New York City smells, but this thick, heavy one
escaped me. Surrounded by thousands of protesters in front
of Madison Square Garden at the massive demonstration
against the Republican National Convention, I briefly,
overtaken by paranoia, wondered if the smell could be some
kind of mustard gas or pepper spray.
Suddenly, black smoke billowed before me and all the
protesters stopped in their tracks. We had been shouting "Go
home!," "Four more months!" and "Shame!" at the Garden, but
now we were silent and worried. Who had started it? One of
them? One of us?
People started siphoning off onto side streets. As the rest
of us stood there with our signs and banners, wondering if
we should get out of the highly congested area, too, flames
one story tall shot into the air.
Within minutes, the flames had somehow been extinguished and
white smoke replaced the black. It was a brief and isolated
event, not by any means the crescendo of the protest, but
the end of the protest for me. I might have looked blasé,
but I felt scared. Again.
Walking to the 33rd street 6 train, I thought, "Shit, I've
never seen anything like that before." Then I realized,
dumbly, of course I had. I had seen far larger a spectacle
of that little fire, part of the reason I was marching today.
On September 11th, 2001, I woke up in my New York University
dormitory to the persistent wail of fire trucks. I kept
waking up, then falling back asleep. The telephone rang. My
roommate's father said to turn on the TV. Within minutes, I
ran outside in my bare feet to 5th Avenue, where I saw the
Twin Towers, each slashed three quarters of the way across
The following months, which then became the following years,
being a liberal during our so-called War on Terror has given
me an education about American politics, foreign policy and
human psychology in a way that no university could. I had
never known how capable I was of being so deeply terrified
for my safety. Nor did I know how deceitful, yet
controlling, fear could be.
On the subway ride to the march, the man sitting across from
me on the L train was reading one of the New York dailies.
Per usual, fear- and panic-instilling warnings splashed
across the cover. An Arab man's mug shot and the declaration
that the subways are targets, the bridges are targets,
everything is a target, we are going to be attacked!
Like everyone else who reads and watches mainstream media, I
had heard nothing but insinuations that terrorists were
going to attack during the Republican National Convention.
And if not terrorists, anarchists! I expected trouble-making
from one of the parties involved and was wary of
mayhem-in-the-streets again. I protested reluctantly.
Already, New York City is being exploited by the Republicans
as being Ground Zero of the September 11th attacks; now my
fear is being exploited to keep me anxious and worried, on a
Yet those I spoke to at the protest agreed that it was one
of the more laid-back protests that we have been at. We
marched peacefully on the streets and were not confined to
free-speech zones, stacked in like chickens on a breeding
farm. The majority of the police that I saw were in their
regular uniforms, not riot gear. Protesters, contrary to the
stereotype of havoc-wreaking anarchists, were people who
looked like my friends, my colleagues, my parents -- people
who you won't read about in the paper.
We shouted "FOX News sucks!" at the giant FOX News banner
hanging across the street from Madison Square Garden. We
poked into the by-the-time-we-reached-them bone dry
convenience stores along 7th Avenue, hoping for ice-cold
water. We carried caskets draped with American flags in
90-degree heat, our sunglasses slipping off our noses from
the sweat. We were all together and we were all against the
same people and angry at the same things. It felt
immeasurably good to see hundreds of thousands of people
that feel just like you do and to see that they're not
throwing pipe-bombs or burning American flags, that they
just want to practice democracy, peacefully and to-the-point.
I can't say that I don't know what I was expecting to
happen, because I know exactly what I expected. Panic.
Mayhem. Anarchy. Violence. But the protesters at Sunday's
march were equal parts charged and somber, and nothing if
not peaceful. We were charged to be around such vibrancy and
creativity, chuckling at the endless sea of clever signs
("What would Jesus do? Vote for Kerry." "Somewhere in Texas,
a village is missing it's idiot." "Don't blame me. I voted
for the majority."), but somber to be at another protest.
Here we are. Again.
I had nothing to be afraid of on Sunday, not even the small
fire. The protest reminded me that I am not alone in my
anger and disgust, that there is solidarity no matter how
fractious we are told we are and how condescendingly we are
treated. Who knows how long it will take to train myself not
to be impressionable or jumpy, and not to Chicken Little
about every splashy headline that harkens back to that
morning when I saw the biggest spectacle I've ever seen.
New York Daily News
Whiners, wusses & wimps
Tuesday, August 31st, 2004
Poor little protesters. Here they are, boldly come into the
very heart of Fascist Insect Amerika to be glamorous
street-fighting revolutionaries like Fidel and Che and those
guys, and they end up getting handled like everyday
No hoods, no torture. And they're in and out of the court
system in 23 hours, give or take, just like the standard
prostitutes, petty pilferers and pill pushers who get
processed through Manhattan Criminal Court. Darn hard to get
treated like an important political prisoner in this town.
This injustice needs to be protested.
Meanwhile, your conscience requires you to cry out against
whatever oppressions you've got to work with. In this case,
well, these abusive jailhouse conditions are just shocking.
No vegan sandwiches, just baloney. Nothing but Dixie cups to
drink from. Small wonder they're all calling the holding
cell "Guantanamo-on-the-Hudson." Where are the international
human-rights monitors, Amnesty International and the like,
when you need them?
Boo hoo hoo.
This "Guantanamo" is a Transit Authority bus garage on Pier
57 where protesters are detained and their property
collected before they head off to Central Booking. With an
oil stain or two on the floor, it admittedly is not the
tidiest place in the world. But the Black Hole of Calcutta
it isn't. Still, this morning there was scheduled to be a
seriously indignant demonstration outside the building to
object to all that unendurable barbarism within.
Real police-state abuses, mind you, have been not much in
evidence this week. No skulls were cracked Monday night when
a detective was pulled from his scooter and pounded
unconscious outside Madison Square Garden. The men and women
of the NYPD showed similar restraint and professionalism
yesterday as self-professed anarchists marched and bellowed
around and about the town to celebrate their designated Day
of Civil Disobedience.
Some of them did get swept up and arrested -- corralled in
nets, not beaten bloody by billy clubs -- but they'll be out
of the tank and into court in the next day or so, and
they'll have access to lawyers and they'll be granted
appropriate bail according to the charges against them. Los
desaparecidos these folks are not exactly.
But, golly. Hours -- hours! -- they have to spend in the
criminal justice system, forced to drink out of nothing but
Dixie cups all the while.
Some protesters these people are. Civil disobedience
customarily involves a willingness to suffer some measure of
discomfort. Ask Gandhi. But this is the bunch that demanded
the city provide them with designer bottled water. Cute,
Anyone with any sense knew perfectly well what President
Bush meant when he remarked that the war on terror is not a
war that is going to be won. He meant, obviously, that this
epically historic clash of cultures and values will surely
continue all the rest of our lives and beyond and will not
be conventionally concluded with, for example, a surrender
ceremony on the deck of a battleship.
Which is true. We can obliterate the Islamofascist gangsters
left and right. We can render them ineffective and we can
drive them into holes. But there will always be more of
them, somewhere, for a long time to come. Mankind is not
soon going to "win" the war on rats and roaches, either.
Thus, it was a sensible and levelheaded thing for Bush to
say, a rational acknowledgment of the way things are in the
real world. Ah, but here comes the Kerry-Edwards campaign,
scenting anything akin to blood and pouncing on such a
weak-willed commander-in-chief as this who can't even fight
a good war. Mere days ago, they were blistering Bush as some
crazed, out-of-control, swaggering macho cowboy, waging
bloody battle with insufficient "sensitivity." Now,
suddenly, he's a twinkie, devoid of the warrior's hard
resolve to take the enemy down to defeat.
Yawn. Rolling his eyes and sighing, the President yesterday
assured the American Legion that, yeah, certainly the war on
terror will be won -- "by spreading liberty," he explained.
He probably could have expressed himself more clearly the
first time, he conceded. "It didn't need clearing up," noted
Sen. John McCain. Exactly.
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
"It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
*anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
-- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
_Detective Comics_ #608