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Truthdiggers of the Week: NYC Marathon Protesters
Posted on Nov 3, 2012
By Tracy Bloom
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had insisted the New York City Marathon would proceed as scheduled Sunday even as the city’s five boroughs were experiencing rampant flooding, power outages and mass transit shutdowns in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As late as Friday afternoon, organizers were still planning to go ahead with the race.
But even the world’s largest marathon was no match for the chorus of protests that erupted after it was revealed the event would be held despite the continued rescue and recovery efforts. Officials would eventually be forced to relent and make the correct decision. The race was off.
There were lots of reasons to cancel the event in the wake of the deadly superstorm. Critics pointed to the fact that many in the storm-ravaged areas were without electricity, while thousands lacked clean water. Moreover, there was the issue of diverting resources from areas that desperately needed them for recovery efforts.
As The Daily Beast’s Megan McArdle noted:
Only one bridge connects Staten Island, the starting point of the marathon, to the rest of the city. Presumably that bridge would have had to have been at least partially shut down because of the race, something that would have hampered repairs in the devastated community.
What started initially as complaints from area residents turned into a full-fledged campaign that included elected officials, race participants and others, complete with social media campaigns on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, where protesters could voice their opposition to the marathon.
An online peition on Change.org garnered thousands of signatures to have the race called off.
The petition said, in part:
More than 7,000 people signed it.
As the backlash grew, officials bowed to the pressure and called off the marathon, a first in the event’s illustrious history.
“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event—even one as meaningful as this—to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”
The marathon brings in hundreds of millions of dollars for the city, a lucrative incentive for officials to proceed with the event.
Were it not for the chorus of voices protesting the race, it might have run as scheduled, no doubt impacting a city still in recovery.
For their efforts, we honor as our Truthdiggers of the Week those whose public and persistent outcry led to the marathon being canceled this year.
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