Nonviolent Civil Disobedience at the 2004 RNC - Report and Aftermath

The August 31 Nonviolent Civil Disobedience at the Republican National Convention - Report and Aftermath


Next Meeting of the WRL organizing group. Thursday, December 2 , 7 pm, 339 Lafayette St. (Bleecker St.) in Manhattan. We’ll evaluate the Nov. 3 demonstration and discuss plans for future events.

Nov. 3rd Day-After-Election-Day Anti-war Demonstraton. Information about the planning for the “no matter who’s elected we need to demonstrate against the war” demonstration.

We need to hear from participants. We want names of all who were involved. Tell us whether you were you arrested or acted in support, do you have photos, what articles or news reports did you see (please send them to us), what happened at the demonstration; if you were arrested, how long were you held in jail, did you get an ACD, what's the date your arraignment or trial, etc. Please e-mail us at nycwrl [at]

Legal. On Oct. 6, NYC Judge Katherine Fried dropped all charges against the 227 people who were arrested near the World Trade Center site on August 31, including those who have already received ACDs. For more information, download Acrobat PDF stories by the New York Times, New York 1, WCBS-TV, or 1010 WINS. Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild had been seeking to represent everyone who was arrested at the WTC. If you were not arrested at the there but would like to be represented by the National Lawyers Guild, please call 212-679-6018 x16 or go to the RNC Mass Defense Committee.

If you are interested in participating in the class action civil suit, you can contact William Goodman (212-353-9587 or bgoodman [at], one of the attorneys working on the case.

To detail police misconduct, the New York Civil Liberties Union is asking arrestees to fill out the Pier 57 Intake Form. Specifically, please look at Legal Support for RNC Protests page. On that page they have links to police misconduct forms, forms for those detained after 5 pm on Sept. 2, forms for witnesses, etc. On the other hand NYC Mayor Bloomberg is urging demonstrators to get it over with and “plead guilty” (Newsday, Sept. 20, 2004).

Criticisms of Arrest Tactics and Detentions.

Download PDFs of the following major investigative articles critical of police tactics: “Lawyers' Group Sues City Over Arrests of Protesters,” New York Times (Oct. 8, 2004); Arrests at GOP Convention Are Criticized,” Washington Post (Sept. 20, 2004); “Activists Arrested During GOP Convention Testify Against City, Police,” The New Standard (Sept. 19, 2004); “City Arrest Tactics,” New York Times (Sept. 17, 2004); “Hundreds Detained During RNC Protests,” Rock River Times, IL (Sept. 14, 2004). On Sept. 15 NY City Councilman Bill Perkins held a hearing on the RNC arrests and detentions. Download a PDF of establishment media stories on the hearings (collected by IndyMedia).

The Call to Action. Click here to see the original call to action for the August 31, 2004, procession and nonviolent civil disobedience die-in at Madison Square Garden.

Chronology of Events.

Because there was some confusion as to what happened on August 31, the following is a brief chronology of how the demonstration unfolded:

  • 3 pm. The vigil began on Church St. at Cortlandt St. while other demonstrators gathered two blocks north out ot the sun under the large overhang at Fulton St.
  • 4 pm. After 700 to 1,000 demonstrators gathered (not to mention a large number of press and police), we began our procession toward Madison Square Garden by crossing Church St. and heading east along Fulton St. to get to Broadway for the march north. Within a half block almost 300 of us were stopped by police who claimed that we were blocking the sidewalk and were parading without a permit. A couple of minutes later we were surrounded by the police and were told that we were all under arrest. They brought out orange netting to help fence us in. It took two or three hours to remove the 227 eventually arrested at this location next to the cemetery at St. Paul’s churchyard.
  • 5 pm. Meanwhile, across Church St. and back at the WTC site, the remaining unarrested demonstrators decided how to proceed. After an hour or so, about 500 proceeded up Church St. (initially stretching as much as 8 blocks), continued north on West Broadway, went around Washington Square, connected to Fifth Ave., picked up people who had been waiting to join the procession at Union Square (through contact with the WRL office, many of those who had been at Union Square are able to find the reconstituted procession). When the procession reached 23rd St., it continued north on Broadway and eventually reached 28th St.
  • 7:15 pm. The die-in happened at 28th St. and Broadway. Broadway is blocked for almost an hour as 54 are arrested (while 150 supporters remain on the sidewalks). Media coverage is very heavy at this point.
  • Processing. All arrested demonstrators were taken to the infamous Pier 57 on W. 14th St. for initial processing. After many hours of processing and waiting, the demonstrators were sent downtown to 100 Centre St. The arrestees were not released until Wednesday or Thursday (most are held beyond 24 hours and many for more than 50 hours).
  • Total Arrests. In the end, 281 who were part of the procession and die-in were arrested, out of 1200 arrests during Tuesday’s civil disobedience actions all over Manhattan.

Names of Those Arrested. The Sept. 8, 2004, VillageVoice has an “Honor Roll: The Guest List at Pier 57” of all those arrested. Though some names are missing and some are misspelled, this is as complete a list as we've seen.

Tactics in Action (according to New York Times, Sept. 2, 2004)
“How the arrests unfolded at the War Resisters League march near the World Trade Center site on Tuesday.”

4:01 p.m.Several hundred marchers set off across Church Street, after being warned by police to march two abreast and to stay out of the street.



4:03 p.m. Police in helmets block the front of the march after they say marchers had blocked the sidewalk and roadway.



4:05 p.m. As the marchers on Fulton Street are surrounded by police, the rest of the protesters remain on the west side of Church Street.



4:10 p.m.About 200 protesters are penned in behind plastic fencing. The ends of the street are sealed off with police scooters and vans.



4:15 p.m.Police vans and buses arrive to remove arrested marchers. Processing the arrests takes 2 hours and 45 minutes.



Listen to a 2-minute New York Times audio clip (mp3) of the arrests at the World Trade Center.

Under Arrest Across from WTC

On Fulton Street, across the street from the World Trade Center site, after 227 protesters are under arrest and surrounded by the police and their orange nets, around 5 pm, August 31, 2004. Photos by Ruth Benn

The Die-in

On Broadway at 28th Street, beginning at 7:15 pm.
First two photos by Jonathan at

“A protester was photographed by the police as members of the War Resisters League lay in the street for a ‘die-in’ at 28th Street and Broadway.” New York Times, Sept. 1, 2004



The following Web sites have additional photos from the August 31 civil disobedience:


  • nycwrl [at] (NYC War Resisters League)
  • tmgood [at] (Tom Good (Socialist Party USA))
  • School of the Americas Watch