Op-Ed: Protesting the Protests

Whenever I’m at a CB1 meeting and someone who lives near a bar complains about the noise of its patrons, I wonder if they moved in after the bar was already there. And then whenever there’s a protest on Broadway near City Hall Park, where I live, I remind myself that City Hall has been there a long time before I was.

But these protests are getting out of control. Today’s is another one by the United Teachers Federation. I have nothing against teachers—I come from a family of teachers—but the extreme amplification ruins the afternoon for anyone within a half-mile radius. (And it doesn’t help that the rabblerousers bray, scream, and yell inanely into the microphone—the one just up was going on about how the teachers were particularly important after 9/11—and then a band mangles classic disco and soul.)

Maybe I should expect that; I moved in next to City Hall. My bigger issue is with the police response. Annoyed by the noise, I took a long walk. When I came back to Church, I was told that I couldn’t walk east on Reade, so I moved on to Chambers. It was blocked to pedestrians, too. I asked a policeman if Warren was open, and he laughed at the question. Another cop told someone they’d have to walk up to Worth to get over to Broadway. I explained that I lived on Broadway, was made to show ID, and let in.

Why on earth could it possibly be necessary to block off so many streets? The cop said, “It’s just two hours.” That’s two hours of strangling businesses, aggravating residents—do they realize that these streets are hugely residential these days?—and jamming traffic. Can’t these protests happen elsewhere very now and then? (Governor’s Island!) It’s not as if Mayor Bloomberg is going to poke his head out of City Hall and say, “Gee, they’re angry. We should really take another look at that budget.”

I’m whining. But you’d whine too if you had to listen to one more “hey hey ho ho” chant.



  1. I’m totally with you. We lost half an hour sitting in traffic to go around the block get to our garage after picking up our dog at the vet, and then were hassled to get from Church to Murray where we live. The people behind me were trying to get to the public library and the cops wouldn’t let them, and there was no option to choose another route. Well done teachers! All the business were just out of luck.

    Didn’t the teachers have a protest here just a couple weeks ago? (My wife’s a math teacher, but I still think these are silly.)

  2. This op-ed made me laugh. There are so many inconveniences living in a city like NY. We all share the streets which are used for pedestrian movement, street fairs, the Taste of Tribeca (had to get that in), outdoor restaurant seating, hawkers (many of whom sell fake goods), protests, parades, charity runs and walks etc. It is an aggravation, but it is part of the way NY functions. I have resolved to treat this inconvenience in the same way as I treat slow moving tourists–stop allowing myself to generate copious amounts of negative energy that would in the end do nothing but contribute to my growing intolerance and impatience. I will let my children do that for me.