Rowdy, Friendly Crowd of 500 Marches in NYC to Rebrand David H. Koch Theatre "The Tea Party's Wallet"
On Wednesday night, a diverse crowd of more than 500 New Yorkers gathered at Martin Luther King High School behind Lincoln Center in preparation for a “Guerrilla Drive-In,” a satirical urban take on the drive-in movie. The rowdy event was designed to shine a spotlight on the now infamous Koch Brothers and their efforts to cover up their far right wing, anti-environment, anti-union agenda by donating large sums of money to New York City cultural institutions.
The audience witnessed the world premiere of Brave New Foundation’s short film, and the event culminated in adding a sign reading “I am the Tea Party’s wallet” to the name plate of the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. (After donating more than $100 million dollars to Lincoln Center in 2008, the institution renamed its New York State Theatre, which houses the New York City Ballet and Opera, the David H. Koch Theater.)
Led by Reverend Billy and the radical marching band Rude Mechanical Orchestra, the crowd paraded (popcorn in hand) from the high school to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. From the plaza behind the theater, activists watched the film “The Koch Brothers Exposed” and Reverend Billy, dressed in white pants and a matching jacket, spoke into a megaphone as the crowd tightened: “We’re here because we love the Earth and we love our city. This must stop!"
The boisterous, fun loving crowd then marched to the front of Lincoln Center to participate in a “guerilla rebranding” of the Koch Theatre. The event was orchestrated by key staff from the Brave New Foundation and AgitPop, along with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and of course the popular Reverend Billy, who leads a radical, 50-person performance community that describes itself as "wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters." The crowd included a gaggle of local "stealth" activists recruited via a secret text message strategy set up by AgitPop, reminiscent of "flash mobs."
The action lasted until about 9pm, when four NYPD paddy wagons rolled-up, and legal counsel Wylie Stceklew advised the crowd to disperse. just as Lincoln Center attendees were leaving their events -- creating a juxtaposition of evening clad concert goers and the casually dressed protesters. As the police formed a human barricade on the sidewalk and pushed on-lookers north, the crowd and band continued to sing “We’re Not Going to Take It.” For Reverend Billy, however, the advice came just moments too late, as he was arrested on trespassing charges while leaving the scene.