If Saturday December 13th, 2014 is remembered for anything, it will be as yet another reminder that NYC is an incubator of free speech. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers organized and peacefully protested against police brutality and systemic inequality in the wake of the Eric Garner and Mike Brown grand jury decisions. And even with all those people streaming up 6th Avenue, there was enough room for a thousand or so First Amendment advocates to rally together to drink away the afternoon in pursuit of some sort of vomit-flecked zen.
Despite being a (mostly) benign plague upon the city for nearly a decade, SantaCon 2014 was treated to more intense (and often over-the-top) scrutiny than any year previously. The fact that it ended up coinciding with a major protest fueled by justified frustration over a race-based, two-tiered justice system only drove home how out-of-touch the organizers had become. The idealistic argue that SantaCon is about fighting the commercialization of the holidays, the chance to inject some "absurdity, culture-jamming and making fun of society and being a bit outrageous."
What SantaCon participants who were paying attention learned yesterday: it's hard to be outrageous when people have real reasons for outrage.
"This is not my thing," said one SantaConner, darting through marchers. pic.twitter.com/AWEpTPYOYA
— Jessica Warriner (@jesswarriner) December 13, 2014
This isn't meant to completely condemn everyone who participated; there were plenty of Santas who respectfully stayed away, or who even ended up joining in the march, as you can see below.
— Emilie Ruscoe (@emiliesaysthat) December 13, 2014
Well, I tried to cover the protest from a certain angle. pic.twitter.com/ij4mkLgImR
— Gary He (@garyhe) December 13, 2014
— War Ontographer (@WarOntographer) December 13, 2014
It also left many people confused:
New York City December 13 2014 pic.twitter.com/qWkzGhZ9u5
— Richard Turley (@Mr_Turley) December 13, 2014
And unfortunately, there was no shortage of obnoxious Santas who lived up to people's worst expectations of SantaCon participants:
— JBS (@jbs319) December 14, 2014
— Bob (@gotthatattitude) December 13, 2014
— tony in NYC (@tonyinNYC) December 13, 2014
To the SantaCon idiot I just saw lying in the street making fun of a die-in: Consider yourself lucky that I wasn't in a vehicle.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) December 13, 2014
— Shannon Luibrand (@shannL18) December 13, 2014
The worst of the worst: the oblivious people who think protesters should "get over it."
This wasn't an isolated group either. There were also the ones who openly mocked and harassed demonstrators:
"We're hoping that today we will either eliminate that negative activity or substantially ameliorate it," civil rights attorney Norman Siegel said Saturday morning at a press conference before kicking off SantaCon. "You can't control everybody, but the organizers are letting people know the 'do's and don'ts' through social media, and I believe that people will respect that, and at a minimum the kind of activity we've seen in the past will be ameliorated today. Hopefully." Maybe there were fewer people physically regurgitating noxious bile onto the streets of Manhattan, but there was plenty of noxious bile being spewed verbally.