Koreans from the US, protesting WTO meetings in Hong Kong with Korean farmers... And writing about the experience.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

NY consulate actions

Nodutdol for Korean Community Development did an action at the Chinese Consulate in New York today. Sorry to say that we couldn’t get anyone to accept our statement and almost got arrested in the process. I would still commend our effort – we put out our message continuing in the spirit of the Hong Kong 투쟁, perhaps got some press, and had a little fun, too.

A group of about 20 of us gathered at 12:30 pm near the Consulate equipped with signs, a bull-horn, copies of 농민가, and print-outs of our statement to give to passers-by and deliver. We began our rally a half a block down from the front door. Our 멋있 는MC led us through chants and singing. He also introduced several speakers from different organizations who gave solidarity statements that put forth our anti-WTO message and called on the Chinese Consulate to condemn the unlawful detainment of our 14 dongji’s still in Hong Kong and demand all charges against them be dropped. Some of us handed out copies of our statement to passers-by, two documented with video and still cameras, one of us spoke to a 한국 일보 reporter. Hopefully he’ll write a story about us.

About half way through our rally I noticed a bunch of guys (who refused to take statements from me) standing on the corner talking into cell phones in Chinese. Not sure what they were saying, but I can guess (just a guess) ‘cause as we were concluding with 농민가 a whole bunch of angry looking cops rolled up in cars and approached us, babbling in what they probably hoped were threatening tones – illegal protest, can’t use sound system, can’t demonstrate on this side of the street, the consulate won’t accept statements, blah blah blah blah blah. All of us except for one continued the song, fists in the air, while that one attempted to reason with the cops. We concluded our rally and prepared to take the statement inside. As a group of us proceeded towards the front door of the Consulate its electronic gate began to drop. Apparently, we were seriously unwanted. We managed to slip under the gate only to be confronted by some tall suit-and-tie white man, also visibly pissed-off. We were loudly instructed that, “See this line? On this side of it it’s the U.S., on the other, it's not, and you have no rights.” We pointed out that at this moment, we had already backed off the few inches necessary to put us squarely in the U.S. (lucky us!). Then our local New York cops took over and told us they would cuff us if we didn’t move across the street. So we bantered a bit until they were really annoyed and kind of on the verge of arresting us (under what charge it could have been, I’m not sure). Then, with ‘a few nasty words on the side’ (please comment if you know where this quote comes from – not cause it’s important, just cause I’m interested), we crossed the street, sang 농민가 again (2x in one rally in nothing compared to Hong Kong where we sang the song 74 times – I counted), and ended. Time to move on to another form of movement work (sorting through NDD mail, processing donations, making phone calls.)…. Yes - it’s all connected, even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Seeing our small group with fists in the air, moving in almost as close unison as 1000’s did in Hong Kong, when I think about, read emails from, hear the static-distorted long-distant voices of my dongjis, I know this is true in my heart/mind.

A few lessons learned/final thoughts
1. It’s a good idea to designated folks who can make quick decisions when stuff like confrontations with cops happen. All others should then follow the chain of command. We call it a tactical team and didn’t have one today.
2. New York cops are not nearly as friendly as Hong Kong cops.
3. How is it that the person elbowing some consulate person in the pictures below didn’t get arrested?
4. Thanks to all the NDD allies who came out.

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