[negative charge]

Topic: Politics
Yesterday I stepped out of work and heard the sound of sirens — lots of them, and not the steady wail of emergency vehicles trying to cut through traffic in a hurry, but staccato whoops, as if no one was quite sure where the emergency was. Coming up to the corner of 45th Street and Second Avenue, I saw a line of police vans stretching down much of the north-south block to 44th, as well as one or two police trucks with penned-in flatbeds. It looked, I thought, like the sort of squad you send out to deal with a riot.

It turns out to have been an illegal protest march that began at the United Nations and cut across Midtown at rush hour to finish up at Madison Square Garden, where the Republican National Convention is being held. The protesters apparently negotiated on the spot with the police, who decided to let them march; sadly, things seem to have turned ugly at the end, with one protester attacking a plainclothes police officer and hurting him pretty badly, which I personally think sucks.

The city doesn’t feel right. There’s a negative charge in the air. Cops are everywhere, even out in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, which happens to be near a major Muslim community. Buildings are barricaded. The subways are weirdly empty, and while the week before Labor Day is always quiet, this year it feels like people have fled. I’m looking forward to this whole thing being over.