The Bergen Record (New Jersey)
Tuesday, August 24, 1999
NYPD to deny permit to Million Youth March; group defiant
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS, The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Police Commissioner Howard Safir said Monday that he will not issue a permit for a second Million Youth March in Harlem next month, but organizers say the event will proceed anyway.
"We want to make it clear here today that no devil, racist, cantankerous, constipated cracker like Mayor [Rudolph] Giuliani can stop" the march, said Khalid Abdul Muhammad, the main organizer of the march. At a news conference outside City Hall, he declared: "We will march on Malcolm X Boulevard with a permit or without a permit."
Earlier in the day, Safir told reporters at Police Headquarters that the city will not issue a permit to the event's organizers, who have applied to march down Malcolm X Boulevard from 145th Street to 119th Street before holding a rally.
"The position is very clear: There is no permit," Safir said. "To have a demonstration or march in this city you need a permit. If you don't have one you're not going to be allowed to demonstrate or march."
Asked what would happen if organizers held a march without a permit, Safir said: "I'm not saying what we're planning to do."
The ratcheting up of rhetoric mirrors circumstances preceding last year's Million Youth March, in which the city also refused to grant Muhammad a permit. The march took place only after federal courts overruled the city.
Organizers said Monday that they are considering a return to federal court this year.
Last year's four-hour event featured dozens of inflammatory speeches, many of which denounced whites, Jews, black elected officials, and police. As the rally wound down, Muhammad's closing speech ran beyond the allotted time and police officers in riot gear moved toward the stage while police helicopters flew low over the crowd.
Muhammad exhorted the crowd to beat or shoot officers if they were attacked, and some members of the audience threw barricades, chairs, and bottles. Twenty-eight people were injured.
The city says the march attracted 6,000 people; Muhammad said there were 300,000.
This year's march is scheduled for Sept. 4, the Saturday before Labor Day -- almost a year to the day after the original.
Organizers said Monday that they will not abide by the conditions imposed upon them at last year's rally, including a four-hour time limit, closing of area subway stations, and the use of steel barricades to corral participants into a confined area.
Giuliani's office had no comment. In the past, the mayor has called the event a "hate march."
During Monday's news conference outside City Hall, march organizers voiced antisemitic and anti-white rhetoric. The group's attorney, Malik Zulu Shabaz, said that if police seek to halt the march, chaos would ensue.
While both Muhammad and Shabaz said their support in the black community was strong, no elected black official has publicly backed them. Many residents have said they do not want the march in Harlem.
Copyright (c) 1999 Bergen Record Corp.