Last night, as I was trying to get some work done, I was also dipping into the live broadcast of Peter Pan. As this was happening, I heard the sound of a helicopter, coming from very close by, as if it was circling overhead. Then I heard chanting, so I ran to my window, which overlooks the West Side Highway. The street had been blocked off with at least three civilian vehicles at odd angles, and then row after row of police cars and vans, in both directions. Hundreds, if not thousands of protestors, many carrying placards, were gathered; some people were standing in place, while others headed around the police cars to continue along the pedestrian lanes beside the river. A large group of uniformed police officers had formed a circle around the parked vehicles. The protest wasn’t violent, but it was outraged, with the crowd yelling “I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE!”, which were the last words of Eric Garner, the man whose arrest and death, along with that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, had sparked all this.
The situation reminded me, in an odd way, of 9/11, because on both days, I was torn between heading outside to watch the live event, and checking in with my computer and TV, which could supply more information. On 9/11, my partner John had called me and told me to go up to the roof, where I watched the second plane fly into the tower, and then I saw the towers collapse.
Meanwhile, because I’m a hopelessly shallow person, I kept checking in with Peter Pan, and with the continuing online commentary on the broadcast, which was every bit as vehement as the highway protest.
Two nights ago, right after the announcement that the arresting officer in the Garner case wouldn’t be indicted, protests took place all over town, and right across Fifth Avenue from the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center. That night, the online conflagration had centered on both the lack of an indictment, and Mariah Carey’s troubled vocal performance of “All I Want For Christmas” at the tree-lighting.
It’s a helluva town.