A lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general Thursday said President Donald Trump used his charitable foundation to settle personal business disputes and bolster his political image with donations directed by his staff.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation “was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood said as she sued to dissolve the foundation and seek $2.8 million in restitution.
The lawsuit says the foundation illegally helped support the Republican’s campaign by raising money at a nationally televised fundraiser in January 2016, then allowing campaign staffers to dictate how the money was spent in grants.
In a couple of tweets, Trump called the case “ridiculous” and said he would not settle the lawsuit.
Trump made a similar claim that he wouldn’t settle a lawsuit charging that his Trump University misled customers, but ultimately paid a $25 million settlement last year.
Foundation attorney Sheri Dillon and a Trump Organization spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The foundation’s mission says its funds are to be used “exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational purposes,” either directly or through other organizations, according to the court filing. In keeping with federal tax rules, the charity’s incorporation documents say none of its resources can directly or indirectly go to the benefit of its directors or officers and none of its activities can benefit any political candidate, the filing notes.
Underwood’s predecessor, Democrat Eric Schneiderman, began investigating the foundation in 2016 following Washington Post reports that its spending personally benefited the presidential candidate. Schneiderman ordered the foundation to stop fundraising in New York.
The Trump campaign, at the time, said the foundation intended to cooperate with the investigation. The campaign had previously called Schneiderman “a partisan hack” who backed Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Schneiderman resigned last month after allegations that he abused women he had dated; he denied the claims.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday against the foundation and its directors, Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.
Trump quickly took to Twitter after the lawsuit was filed.
“The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…”
He continued: ” ….Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.”
A stray backpack prompted the partial evacuation of Trump Tower on Tuesday, though bomb squad technicians quickly determined the unattended bag contained children’s toys and was harmless.
Video posted online showed people running through the Manhattan skyscraper’s public lobby as uniformed police officers waved them toward the exits.
Stephen Davis, the New York Police Department’s top spokesman, said the bomb squad gave the “all clear” around 5 p.m. after examining the backpack left near the entrance to Niketown, a store in the building.
President-elect Donald Trump lives in the tower and has his offices there, though he was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida when the bag was discovered.
His newly appointed press secretary, Sean Spicer, Tweeted that officials were “back to work” following the “false alarm.”
Shoppers and visitors to Trump’s namesake skyscraper described a chaotic scramble.
“It was hysteria,” said Andy Martin, a 16-year-old from the New York City suburb of Huntington. “Police were shouting and telling people to leave.”
Trump Tower, in addition to being the president-elect’s home and business headquarters, contains residences, restaurants, retail stores — and a lobby that by law is open to the public to visitors daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Police receive about 42 reports every day of so-called suspicious packages, though that number can surge depending on current events. In the days after a pressure cooker bomb exploded earlier this year in New York City, police responded to more than 800 calls of “suspicious packages.”
Maria Beckford, visiting New York from her native London, was in Niketown with her 13-year-old son looking to buy a pair of soccer cleats when she said they were told to urgently leave the store.
“We actually had them in his hands but because of everything we just had to leave,” she said.
Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.
Ground zero has become a rebuilt World Trade Center, a place forever marked but greatly changed since Sept. 11, 2001. The nation around it is different, too.
But victims’ relatives and others will convene Sunday on the memorial plaza for one of the constants in how America remembers 9/11 after 15 years — the anniversary ceremony itself.
Organizers have planned some additional music and readings to mark the milestone year. But they are keeping close to what are now traditions: moments of silence and tolling bells, an apolitical atmosphere and the hourslong reading of the names of the dead.
“This idea of physical transformation is so real here,” Sept. 11 memorial President Joe Daniels said. But on this Sept. 11 itself, “bringing the focus back to why we did all this — which is to honor those that were lost — is something very intentional.”
The simple, reverential observance may be the norm now, but city officials fielded about 4,500 suggestions — including a Broadway parade honoring rescue workers and a one-minute blackout of all of Manhattan — while planning the first ceremony in 2002.
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001. It was the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
The 15th anniversary arrives in a country caught up in a combustible political campaign and keenly focused on political, economic and social fissures.
But the nation tries to put partisan politics on hold on the anniversary. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump plan to attend the anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center. Neither candidate is expected to make public remarks. Politicians may attend, but haven’t been allowed to read names or deliver remarks since 2011. Clinton and Trump are following a custom of halting television ads that day.
President Barack Obama will speak at an observance at the Pentagon. Hundreds of people also are expected at a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.
Financial and other hurdles delayed the redevelopment of the Trade Center site early on, but now the 9/11 museum, three of four currently planned skyscrapers, an architecturally adventuresome transportation hub and shopping concourse and other features stand at the site. A design for a long-stalled, $250 million performing arts center was unveiled Thursday.
Around the Trade Center, lower Manhattan now has dozens of new hotels and eateries, 60,000 more residents and ever-more visitors than before 9/11.
Meanwhile, the crowd has thinned somewhat at the anniversary ceremony in recent years, although over 1,000 survivors, recovery workers, victims’ relatives and dignitaries attended last year. But there’s been no sustained talk of curtailing the ceremony.
Organizers evaluate every year whether to make changes, Daniels said, “and every time the answer, thus far, has been it’s so special for family members, and it’s important for the nation.”
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.
A year after New York City’s jubilant pride parade celebrated a high point for gay Americans with the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, the atmosphere surrounding the annual march couldn’t be more different.
Sunday’s parades in New York, San Francisco and other cities are unfolding two weeks after a gay nightclub in Florida became the site of the nation’s deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history.
Celebrations planned around such themes as supporting transgender people and pressing for economic justice have quickly taken on new meanings. Parade-goers will see increased security, anti-violence messages and tributes to those killed in Orlando.
But organizers don’t want the massacre to stamp out the defiant exuberance of events rooted in declaring that gay people aren’t afraid to be seen and heard.
“Last year was such a celebratory time, and this year, we have this happening,” says James Fallarino, a spokesman for organizers of the New York parade, one of the nation’s oldest. “But that’s also why it’s so important that we are out and loud and proud.
“If we change our event — if we make everything somber — it’s, in many ways, allowing those who wish to silence us to win.”
Sunday’s parades do have a new milestone to mark: President Barack Obama on Friday designated the site around New York City’s Stonewall Inn as the first national monument to gay rights. A 1969 police raid on the bar helped catalyze the gay rights movement.
To be sure, the often raucous marches will be tempered with messages of respect and grief for the 49 people massacred and more than 50 wounded in Orlando.
In New York, the lead float will be dedicated to the victims. Marchers will carry 49 orange flags — the color of choice for campaigns against gun violence — through the route. A “We Are Orlando” solidarity group has been added to the lineup. And gun-control, anti-gun-violence groups have joined the lineup since the shooting forged new bonds between them and gay-rights activists.
“As the mom of a gay teen, Orlando terrified me,” says Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She and 19-year-old daughter Emma, who is gay, plan to join about 200 other people behind the group’s banner in the parade.
It’s “such an important way for these two communities to come together,” said Watts, whose group also has members joining other parades.
At San Francisco’s parade, also among the country’s oldest, a “We’re Orlando” group of about 300 people will be fourth in the lineup. Victims will be honored with a moment of silence when the march reaches the grandstand. A memorial with their photos will be set up inside City Hall.
“It’s been an interesting experience to build the parade with kind of a heavier message” after the optimistic sentiment last year, Stephanie Mufson said as she supervised assistants building floats Thursday for the event.
It’s still unclear, and may always be, exactly what prompted gunman Omar Mateen’s rampage. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call. His ex-wife said he was mentally ill. His father has suggested he was angry with gays.
Whatever the instigation, Mateen targeted a popular gay club, and pride celebrations around the country since have faced a sense of heightened risk. Police in the Los Angeles area arrested a heavily armed man who told officers he was headed to a big pride parade in West Hollywood. Houston police investigated a tweeted threat against their city’s pride parade.
New York police plan to deploy roving counterterrorism units and use bomb-sniffing dogs, rooftop observation posts, police helicopters and thousands of officers to provide extra layers of security at Sunday’s parade. Thousands of uniformed officers will line the route, supplemented by plainclothes officers in the crowd. While the city has provided similar protections in the past, “you’ll see more” this year, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
San Francisco spectators will face metal detectors, for the first time, and more police than usual will keep watch. Some participants aren’t welcoming the stepped-up security: Two honorary grand marshals and a health clinic that serves sex workers withdrew Friday from the parade to protest the heavy police presence.
Chicago police have put 200 more officers than usual on duty for the city’s pride parade Sunday. Organizers have nearly doubled their corps of private security agents, to 160.
For all the security and solemnity, some spectators at pride parades this month have made a point of making merry.
“We had fun. That is what gay people do,” comedian Guy Branum wrote in a New York Times essay after attending the West Hollywood parade. “Our answer to loss and indignity, it seems, is to give a party, have a parade and celebrate bits of happiness.”
Associated Press writer Tom Hays in New York and AP video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco contributed to this report.
John Kasich seized an opportunity to blast rival Donald Trump Thursday as unprepared for the presidency after comments about abortion ignited a fresh round of controversy this week about the Republican front-runner.
“Donald Trump is clearly not prepared to be president,” Kasich said at a news conference in New York. He argued that Trump “becomes unmoored” when pressed about his positions and then corrects himself, as Trump’s campaign did Wednesday after he suggested punishing women for having abortions if they were to become illegal.
Presidents, Kasich added, “don’t get do-overs.”
The Ohio governor, who is far behind Trump and rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the GOP contest, largely avoided sparring with Trump through much of the campaign. But he began aiming heavy criticism at the New York real estate magnate after violence outside a planned Trump rally in Chicago earlier this month.
After seeming to relish reaction to his provocative positions during much of the campaign, Trump faced condemnation from both sides of a divisive social issue after saying Wednesday that women who have abortions should receive “some form of punishment” if the procedure is ever outlawed, as Trump would like. His campaign quickly backtracked, saying only people who perform abortions would be held legally responsible.
Those remarks “put women in a very difficult position,” said Kasich, who describes himself as pro-life and said Thursday that “you can be a defender of life while respecting women.”
He also ticked off other Trump ideas he portrayed as objectionable, alarming, unrealistic or all three: banning foreign Muslims temporarily from entering the U.S., scaling back the nation’s role in NATO, making Mexico pay for a fortress-like border wall, and not “taking any cards off the table” when asked if he would use nuclear weapons in the Middle East or Europe, among other comments.
Leading the world in fighting terrorism “takes cooperation. It takes restraint. It takes judgment. It takes experience – not wild-eyed suggestions,” Kasich said.
Kasich argues his 18 years in Congress and two terms as governor show he has a record of making change – and that he’s the only Republican hopeful who can win the general election. He said Thursday that having Cruz or Trump as nominee would endanger not only the GOP’s presidential hopes but its majority in the U.S. Senate, where some Republicans are in tight races.
Trying to recruit Trump voters to his side, Kasich touches on his own blue-collar upbringing as a postal worker’s son to make the case that he understands Trump supporters’ economic frustrations and can help them.
“I am with the Trump people,” he said Thursday. “They just don’t know me.”
Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
The president of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, said Thursday that the organization’s longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults is no longer sustainable and called for change in order to prevent “the end of us as a national movement.”
In a speech in Atlanta to the Scouts’ national annual meeting, Gates referred to recent moves by Scout councils in New York City and elsewhere to defy the ban.
“The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” he said.
Gates said no change in the policy would be made at the national meeting. But he raised the possibility of revising the policy at some point soon so that local Scout organizations could decide on their own whether to allow gays as adult volunteers and paid staff.
In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders. The change took effect in January 2014.
Gates, who became the BSA’s president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts’ policymaking body upheld the ban.
On Thursday, however, he said recent events “have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.”
He cited the recent defiant announcement by the BSA’s New York City chapter in early April that it had hired the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader. He also cited broader developments related to gay rights.
“I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage,” he said. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”
Gates said the BSA technically had the power to revoke the charters of councils that defied the ban on gay adults, but said this would be harmful to boys in those regions
He also noted that many states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, raising the possibility of extensive legal battles.
“Thus, between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy,” Gates said.
He expressed concern that an eventual court order might also strike down the BSA’s policy of banning atheists.
“Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes,” he said. “Alternatively, we can move at some future date — but sooner rather than later — to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners — unit sponsoring organizations — to determine the standards for their Scout leaders.”
Such an approach, he said, would allow churches, which sponsor about 70 percent of Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.
“I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement,” he said.
But some churches may be alienated nonetheless. Some Southern Baptist churches stopped sponsoring troops after gay scouts were allowed, and letting in gay adults will likely prompt even more departures, said Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, who formerly led the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
To him, Scouts shouldn’t have leaders who are sexually attracted to their gender, whether a heterosexual man leading Girl Scouts or a gay man supervising boys, no matter objections that leaders of any sexuality shouldn’t be assumed to be potential pedophiles.
“This seems to me to be sound judgment 101,” he said, calling Gates’ message a display of “political correctness.”
The Utah-based Mormon church is the nation’s largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, and in the past has supported the ban on participation by openly gay adults.
In a brief statement Thursday, the church said it would examine any policy changes “very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the BSA.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay-rights group, called Gates’ speech “a step in the right direction.”
“But, as we have said many times previously, half measures are unacceptable, especially at one of America’s most storied institutions,” said the campaign’s president, Chad Griffin. “It’s time for BSA leaders to show true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion.”
Until Thursday, there had been no indication how the BSA would respond to the New York Councils, which on April 2 announced the hiring of Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout. Tessier, currently finishing his freshman year of college, has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay scouts and leaders.
Tessier had been getting legal advice from prominent lawyer David Boies, whose recent causes include arguing for recognition of same-sex marriage. Boies said it was possible that Tessier’s hiring could lead to litigation between the New York chapter and the BSA’s national headquarters, but he expressed hope this could be avoided.
After Tessier’s hire, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office opened an inquiry into the BSA’s membership policies and influence over local councils’ hiring decisions. The office, which cited state laws against hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation, was reviewing Gates’ remarks Thursday.
One of Tessier’s lawyers, Josh Schiller, expressed hope that the BSA’s ban would be lifted.
“People will join the Boy Scouts and look at them as an organization that has the principles of equality,” he said.
Debate over the BSA policy has coincided with a steady drop in the organization’s youth membership, which fell 7.4 percent last year to about 2.4 million.
After the 2013 decision to admit gay youth, some conservatives split from the BSA to form a new group, Trail Life USA, which has created its own ranks, badges and uniforms. The group claims a membership of 23,000 youths and adults.
Trail Life’s chairman, John Stemberger, said his organization was “saddened” by Gates’ speech.
“It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activists groups,” he said. “Trail Life USA remains committed to timeless Christian values.”
Associated Press writer Michelle Price in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter at @jennpeltz and David Crary at http://twitter.com/CraryAP
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver faces arraignment on bribery charges that spurred his resignation from his role as one of New York’s foremost political powerbrokers.
The Democrat was due in a Manhattan federal court Tuesday in a case that has rocked the statehouse power structure. Accused of illegally profiting off his outsize influence, Silver has said he’s confident he will be cleared.
“Our client is not guilty. We can now begin to fight for his total vindication,” lawyers Joel Cohen and Steve Molo said when Silver was indicted last week on honest service fraud and extortion charges. The attorneys declined to comment further Monday ahead of Silver’s arraignment.
Silver resigned as speaker after his January arrest, but he retains the lower Manhattan assembly seat he has held for nearly 40 years.
During 21 years as Assembly speaker, Silver played a major part in creating state budgets and policies and was known as a backroom master who could single-handedly decide the fate of legislation.
His arrest roiled Albany, where 28 legislators have stepped down because of criminal or ethical issues during the past 15 years. Four others, including Silver, remain in office while fighting charges.
The case centers on law firm “referral fees” that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says were actually kickbacks to Silver, 70, who is an attorney. Prosecutors say he did no legal work for the firms but instead did such favors as lining up state grants that helped a firm’s business.
A gunman who vowed online to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner ambushed two New York City officers in a patrol car and fatally shot them in broad daylight before running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account before Saturday’s shootings: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs,” two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed for The Associated Press. He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic) RIPMikeBrown.
The officials, a senior city official and a law enforcement official, were not authorized to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police said Brinsley approached the passenger window of a marked police car and opened fire, striking Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head. The officers were on special patrol doing crime reduction work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
“They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news conference.
The sudden and extraordinary violence stunned the city, prompted a response from vacationing President Barack Obama and escalated weeks of simmering ill will between police and their critics following grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri. Garner and Brown were black; the officers involved were white.
Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests following the grand jury decisions. The New York police union head declared there’s “blood on the hands” of protesters and the city’s mayor.
Brinsley took off running after the shooting. Officers chased him down to a nearby subway station, where he shot himself in the head as a subway train door full of people closed. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene, Bratton said.
“This may be my final post,” Brinsley wrote in the post that included an image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes but also had many others admonishing his statements.
Bratton said the suspect made very serious “anti-police” statements online but did not get into specifics of the posts.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Garner’s family has no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.
“We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” he said.
Brown’s family condemned the shooting in a statement posted online by their attorney.
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities,” the family said.
Most of the protests have been peaceful, particularly in New York. Bratton said police were investigating whether Brinsley had attended any rallies or demonstrations and why he had chosen to kill the officers.
Brinsley was black; the officers were Asian and Hispanic, police said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the killings of Ramos and Liu strike at the heart of the city.
“Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy,” said de Blasio, who spoke softly with moist eyes. “It is an attack on all of us.”
Scores of officers in uniform lined up three rows deep at the hospital driveway. The line stretched into the street. Officers raised their hands in a silent salute as two ambulances bore away the slain officers’ bodies. The mayor ordered flags at half-staff.
In a statement Saturday night, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting deaths as senseless and “an unspeakable act of barbarism.” Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, issued a statement saying he unconditionally condemns the slayings.
“The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day — and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day,” Obama said. “Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal — prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.”
The tragedy ended a bizarre route for Brinsley that began in Maryland early Saturday. He went to the home of a former girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb and shot and wounded her. Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting from the woman’s Instagram account threats to kill New York officers.
Baltimore-area officials sent a warning to New York City police, who received it moments too late, Bratton said.
But the posts were apparently online for hours, though it’s not clear if anyone reported them. Bratton called on New Yorkers to alert authorities of any threats to police they see — even if they don’t seem real. “That information must get into the hands of the police officers,” he said.
Brinsley had a history of arrests in Georgia for robbery, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon. Bratton said his last-known address was in Georgia, but he had some ties to Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the department grieved the sudden and violent loss of the officers.
“Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve,” Bratton said Saturday night.
Ramos was married with a 13-year-old son and had another in college, police and a friend said. He had been on the job since 2012 and was a school safety officer. Liu had been on the job for seven years and got married two months ago.
Rosie Orengo, a friend of Ramos, said he was heavily involved in their church and encouraged others in their marriages.
“He was an amazing man. He was the best father and husband and friend,” she said. “Our peace is knowing that he’s OK, and we’ll see him in heaven.”
De Blasio and the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury’s decision. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job. On Saturday, some officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he walked into the hospital.
“That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor,” Lynch said. “After the funerals, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”
The last shooting death of a New York City officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski was shot in the face while responding to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire and Tom McElroy in New York, Juliet Linderman in Baltimore and Josh Lederman in Honolulu contributed to this report.
A day after over 100,000 people marched to warn that climate change is destroying the Earth, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Broadway in Manhattan’s financial district in a sit-in to protest what they see as corporate and economic institutions’ role in the climate crisis.
Monday’s demonstration was planned as a more confrontational sequel to Sunday’s march, with many participants Monday deliberately risking arrest by obstructing traffic in the heart of the nation’s financial capital. Over 100 people, including a person wearing a white polar bear suit, were arrested Monday night after they refused to leave Broadway near Wall Street, police said. Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct.
Earlier, the protest took a tense turn as the demonstrators tried to push past police barricades at Wall Street, sparking a brief clash with officers.
But by and large, police, office workers and tourists watched alike as the activists chanted such messages as “we can’t take this climate heat; we’ve got to shut down Wall Street” and bounced huge balloons meant to represent carbon dioxide bubbles.
“I wanted to come specifically to disrupt Wall Street because it’s Wall Street that’s fueling this,” Youngstown, Ohio, urban farmer and bread-maker Ben Shapiro said as he sat on Broadway by the famed bull statue. He had skipped Sunday’s march, focusing instead on the financial system that he feels enables environmental destruction for the sake of energy and other industries.
“I’m going after the source of the problem,” he said.
Organizers said the FloodWallStreet sit-in aimed to disrupt business in the financial district. Demonstrators didn’t obtain a permit for the rally, police said, and participants such as Jenna DeBoisblanc arrived anticipating arrests as a way to underscore their message.
“If you’re willing to risk arrest, it certainly demonstrates that it’s something very urgent,” said DeBoisblanc, a New Orleans environmental activist who sported a superhero outfit and green wig.
If Sunday’s march was about building consensus around a crisis, the sit-in sought to take on institutions protesters hold responsible for it, said demonstrator Nicholas Powers, who teaches black and feminist literature at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.
Peppered with elements of performance art — one person wore a polar-bear suit, another Grim Reaper-like robes and a gas masks — the protest encompassed Occupy Wall Street veterans, antiwar activists who see climate change as a still bigger cause and residents of areas battered by Superstorm Sandy.
“We’re really fighting for resiliency,” said Alexis Smallwood, whose home in the Far Rockaway section of Queens was flooded by the October 2012 storm.
Participants encountered barricades and a heavy police presence as they tried to stream onto Wall Street, home to the New York Stock Exchange, after several hours of demonstrating by the bull statue nearby. Some tried to push through the barricades, and police and protesters tussled as officers held the barriers in place, using pepper spray. Police said no injuries were reported.
The barricades stayed. So did hundreds of demonstrators, who continued sitting and standing outside the barriers, on Broadway.
Some bystanders took the disruption in stride: “Every time I come here, there’s somebody here protesting,” said Matilde Soligno, visiting from Bologna, Italy.
But others were skeptical about what the protest stood to accomplish.
“These people aren’t convincing me of anything,” said Christopher Keane, a lawyer who works in the area.
“How did they get here today?” he asked, if not through some use of the fossil fuels they deplore.
On Sunday, actors Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly were among the protesters in at the New York demonstration, one of many around the world urging policymakers to take quick action.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.
The shirt a Navy SEAL wore in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and a special coin given to a CIA officer who played a key role in finding him are being displayed at the Sept. 11 museum, adding potent symbols of the terrorist attacks’ aftermath days before their anniversary.
The items are going on view Sunday at the ground zero museum, where leaders see them as an important and moving addition to a collection that often uses personal artifacts to explore the events and impact of 9/11.
“The death of Osama bin Laden is a huge part of the history, and we have an absolute obligation to tell it,” National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum President Joe Daniels said Saturday. The display, he said, “allows millions of visitors the chance to recognize the extraordinary bravery of the men and women who sacrifice so much for this country at home and abroad.”
The shirt and coin will join an existing display with a brick from the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the terrorist at the helm of the attacks was captured and killed.
The uniform shirt, tan with camouflage sleeves and an American flag patch — facing backward to invoke the historical role of a flag-bearer leading a charge into battle — belonged to a now-retired member of SEAL Team Six, which put an end to the long manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. The garment “connects us in a powerful and immediate way to that operation,” Museum Director Alice Greenwald said.
The red, white and blue coin was made to commemorate its conclusion. The coin bears the date — May 1, 2011, in U.S. time — on one side and a red “X” on the other. It was owned by the CIA officer, known as “Maya,” who formed the basis for the main character in the Oscar-winning 2012 movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”
The museum is keeping both donors’ identities secret.
The museum, which opened in May and has drawn more than 900,000 visitors so far, has faced controversy over some of its exhibits. Atheists unsuccessfully sued over the “ground zero cross,” a beam from the trade center wreckage; Muslim advocates complained that a film about the rise of al-Qaida unfairly linked Islam and terrorism.
Given the complex reactions bin Laden’s death spurred around the world, the new exhibit may “engender discussion,” Daniels said, but “I think most people will believe it belongs there.”
“It is a part of the story, whatever you think of its symbolism or its meaning.”