Protesters Out In Full At U.N. General Assembly
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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
In New York City, there's an annual ritual that coincides with the U.N. General Assembly meeting: protests. This year is no exception as Stan Alcorn reports from outside the U.N. building.
STAN ALCORN, BYLINE: Stefan Williams of Australia didn't expect the U.N. General Assembly.
STEFAN WILLIAMS: We didn't actually know that the U.N. was on, which is probably pretty silly.
ALCORN: But early this morning, he and his family took a break from their vacation to take photos of the massive U.N. compound.
WILLIAMS: You know, all the leaders from around the world assembling once a year, it doesn't get much more important than that.
ALCORN: They also photographed the maze of police barricades across the street.
WILLIAMS: This level of security, you know, I've never seen anything like it.
ALCORN: These particular barricades are for the designated protest area. A half dozen pens made up of wooden blue sawhorses. For Gonpo Lama of the Tibet Youth Congress, this protest pen is nothing new.
(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)
GONPO LAMA: If I tell the truth, the last year in 2011, we did 40, 47 times.
ALCORN: That's almost a protest every week, either at the United Nations or at the Chinese Consulate in New York.
LAMA: We want to free our country, independence. We don't want the Chinese occupy our country.
ALCORN: In the pen next to them, another group has an issue with the Chinese government.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
ALCORN: Theirs is a quieter form of protest. Xhiwan Dong stopped by to do nearly an hour of the slow, physical falun gong exercises before going to his job as a cancer researcher.
XHIWAN DONG: My parents, they practice falun gong since 1990s, and actually, they introduced the exercise to me.
ALCORN: Dong says his mother has been imprisoned in China four times, and his parents are currently under house arrest in Shandong province, all for practicing falun gong.
DONG: They don't allow them to travel to visit me in the United States, and the government deny their own citizen passport.
ALCORN: These two anti-Chinese government protests have the largest presence here, something in the low hundreds, but there are others. A coalition of anti-war groups have brought a replica of a drone, complete with hellfire missiles the size of baseball bats. It's on a stand about 50 feet behind Deborah Sweet, by order of the police.
DEBORAH SWEET: This president has the kill list and sends drones to kill actual people, but we can't bring a paper and fiberglass replica across from the U.N. to protest the use of drones.
ALCORN: Other smaller groups share the barricades. There are Brazilian policemen pushing for better benefits; Georgians who want their president voted out; and a lone voice calling for President Obama's impeachment.
(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Impeach Obama for high treason.
ALCORN: But for Brent Kope, a medical tech who works nearby, it all adds up to the same thing: a hassle.
BRENT KOPE: It took me an hour and a half to get to work which is double my normal commute, and it's just - it drives me insane, so...
KOPE: ...I'll probably just end up taking off, like, Thursday, Friday or something.
ALCORN: He might want to take tomorrow off too. That's when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is speaking, and larger protests are expected. For NPR News, I'm Stan Alcorn in New York.
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