Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Park 51 Opponents Cancel Protest
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
As noted last week, opponents of Park 51 were planning to hold their first protest in months on Tuesday. The protest was meant to be held in a committee room at 250 Broadway, during a City Council hearing on Wal-Mart. But last week, that hearing was postponed until January 12, so the Park 51 protest has also been put off.
According to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the new venue would be larger, due to the intense interest in Wal-Mart and whether the company will open stores in New York City.
Park 51 opponent Pamela Geller says her protest was meant to address the "hypocrisy," as she saw it, in council members questioning Wal-Mart while not questioning the idea of a mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero. According to Geller, the council "caved" out of fear of anti-Park 51 demonstrators.
"She [Quinn] said we needed a bigger room," said Geller. "I don’t believe that. I think they were afraid that we would overwhelm them -- I don’t mean that in a physical way -- and they cancelled."
However, Jamie McShane, a spokesman for Quinn, said he didn't know who Pam Geller was and that he hadn't been aware of any protest at the hearing related to Park 51.
Geller hadn't expected the protest to be "huge," citing the conflicting schedules of many opponents, some of whom live in other states or have day jobs. But she said the re-scheduled protest would simply take place whenever the Wal-Mart hearing is scheduled.
"Whenever it is, we'll be there," said Geller.