Convention veering

I got my first glimpse of Fortress New York while standing on the northern border of Central Park a few weeks ago. There stood one of New York’s finest, only he had on a full bulletproof vest, combat boots and a helmet, and he looked more military than neighborhood cop. I know what a New York City beat cop used to look like because my grandfather was one. This new militarized version didn’t make me feel safer and was very unapproachable.

So was the spot in lower Manhattan where the towers used to stand. I had no desire to go back in person, or in my mind, to that day and place. I had flown over the burning pit of hell a few days after the attack, and that was enough. The vision of the burning buildings is a permanent scar that we all carry, and I had no desire to pick at it three years later.

The swarm of security that continued to flow into the city to protect the Republican conventioneers took many forms, from Secret Service to the National Guard. At least 20,000 law-enforcement officers were encamped in the city. They supposedly came in to secure the city against attack and who knows what. It is the latter that drove the overreaction, the fear of the unknown and unknowable. It turns out there reportedly was one cop for every 2.4 guests that came for the convention, an obvious overreaction.

This post-apocalyptic feeling the United States has taken on scares me. Scarier still was the eventual arrest of 1,800 people who were there mostly to protest the direction of the nation and the perpetual war we’ve been in since the attack. Some reporters called the pier where the protesters were held “Guantanamo on the Hudson.”

So, in order to hear those voices of disagreement, we’ve collected them in this cover feature (“Advice and dissent”).