United States: People of New York Gain a Clearer Understanding About Falun Gong

From the 29th of August to the 2nd of September. 2004, during the Republican National Convention, the streets of New York City were extraordinarily busy and noisy. In order to help more RNC delegates and New York residents learn the truth about Falun Gong, more than a thousand Falun Gong practitioners held a series of activities in busy downtown Manhattan, and in parks and tourist sites. The activities included anti-torture exhibits, "Great Wall of Courage," candlelight vigils and others. Falun Gong practitioners could be seen at many busy street corners distributing truth clarification materials to expose the persecution of Falun Gong in China and call for people's righteousness and conscience. Through practitioners' persistent efforts, more and more media outlets, New York residents and American people have learned the truth about Falun Gong, expressed their condemnation of the persecution and their support for Falun Gong practitioners.

Reporters with a Sense of Justice

On Saturday the 28th of August, 2004, Falun Gong practitioners held an activity entitled, "Great Wall of Courage" at many street corners along 42nd and 58th Streets in Manhattan, to allow more people to know about the human rights violation in China and to call for justice. Some Falun Gong practitioners from Canada were holding an anti-torture exhibition in front of the Waldorf Hotel. A photographer from a TV station videotaped the anti-torture exhibit, and then videotaped a practitioner who was doing the exercises. When a practitioner saw him videotape the practitioners' feet, and asked her curiously, "Why did you videotape her feet?" The photographer said, "I'm not videotaping her feet, but her shadow. I found your exercises beautiful, even the shadow moving along with the movements of her body is very graceful. I want to catch beautiful images and display them to the viewers, and tell people that such a beautiful exercise is being persecuted."

On the 28th of August, several Canadian practitioners and formed a group to hold display boards to expose the persecution and distribute materials at the street corner between the 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. The pictures on the board exposed the horrifying persecution happening in China. Many passersby stopped and watched, including many reporters who came to conduct interviews. A hostess from a TV station happily accepted some Falun Gong related materials whilst giving us a thumbs-up. The cameraman who came along with her videotaped practitioners who were peacefully performing the exercises and the display boards that exposed the persecution.

A journalist from the Wall Street Journal saw the peacefull appeal among the crowds of noisy people who were protesting, and interviewed a practitioner who was holding a display board. She asked practitioners why they were holding protests during the RNC, and what they wanted to achieve. The practitioner told the journalist that the persecution is related to all governments and people in all countries, and it has also harmed the American people. The practitioner talked to her about the ordeal of American citizen Charles Li, who has been illegally sentenced to prison and suffers torture while being detained in China when he went there to visit his relatives. The journalist was shocked upon hearing this. The practitioner told the journalist that we hoped all New York residents and the American people, including RNC delegates, could learn the truth about the persecution, and stand up to help put an end to it. Every person's opposition to the persecution would be helpful to help put a stop to the crisis. The journalist took notes while nodding her head. She finally shook hands with the Falun Gong practitioners to express her thanks and wished them good luck.

On the 29th of August, after catching sight of practitioners performing the traditional Chinese Fan Dance and the Dai Nationality Dance, a journalist from the New York Times learned in detail about the situation of Falun Gong in China and what Falun Gong is from a practitioner and said, "I'll make a detailed report and publish it in tomorrow's New York Times." A reporter from a TV station said to practitioners, "I've been to China a few times. I especially love China's ancient culture. Your dance is a reflection of that culture. Your exercises are beautiful. It's incredible that it is subjected to persecution only because a large number of people like it. Is that person (referring to the former President and Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin) crazy?"

The Police Learn the Truth

Having seen Falun Gong practitioners' unceasing efforts over the past few years and practitioners' peaceful demeanor in many activities, more and more police officers have learned the truth and expressed their support for the practitioners' peaceful appeals. Though many police officers could not accept our materials because they were in uniform and on duty, many expressed that they had learned the truth about the persecution, and some of them expressed their respect to practitioners by giving us a thumbs-up. Some officers saw the photos practitioners were holding depicting the torture that practitioners suffer in China. They then asked the practitioners to stop walking so that they could read carefully the explanation beside those photos. After that, they further inquired about the facts and requested some materials. When they saw with their own eyes the evidence that Chinese police beat and use electric batons to shock innocent people, they were shocked and wished them good luck. They also expressed their respect to practitioners for their unremitting efforts to end the persecution.

On the 1st and 2nd of September, 2004, the last two days of RNC in New York, it was said that there would be more than 200 thousand people protesting the convention, and near the site of the convention, many groups and individuals had gathered to protest. The police were on guard. Anyone who wore provocative symbols or apparel or carried leaflets were not allowed very close to the site. They were only allowed to move around on a few streets nearby the site. However, when several Falun Gong practitioners in yellow T-shirts carrying display boards exposing the persecution walked to the line that was closed off, a police officer waved practitioners to pass and said to his colleagues, "Let them pass, they're peaceful." So the practitioners walked directly to the outside of the convention site, which allowed the delegates to see the anti-persecution display boards and obtain some Falun Gong materials.

New Yorkers Have Learned the Truth About Falun Gong

After this New Yorker learned the truth about Falun Gong, he helped hand out Falun Gong related materials A woman from Puerto Rico said, "It's absurd that Falun Gong is being persecuted." Passersby look at anti-torture exhibit and listen to practitioners' explaining the facts about Falun Gong and the persecution

During the RNC, the streets held a sea of people. Different groups held parades and protested, and their shouting of slogans was endless. Falun Gong practitioners in groups of three to five wore yellow T-shirts, quietly smiled and showed passersby display boards and handed out leaflets. Amongst the roaring noise, Falun Gong practitioners' peacefulness and tranquility formed a stark contrast with the surrounding atmosphere, attracting many people's attention, and some curiously came up to request leaflets. The topic of Falun Gong was no longer strange to people. When I walked on the street and handed out leaflets, I often met people who had obtained materials before and came to ask what they could do to help us. When practitioners told them that we would hold anti-torture exhibitions and a signature-collection activity at Central Park and other busy streets, many people happily promised to go to have a look at the exhibit and signed the petition to express their support.

When we took the subway while holding display boards, many passengers saw the photos and carefully read the explanation beside them. Practitioners talked to passengers sitting beside them about the wonderfulness of Falun Dafa and the brutality of the persecution. Everyone in the compartment seemed to listen to their explanation. Many people who didn't want to take the materials earlier could not help stretching out their hands for materials after listening to what the practitioners had to say. Many people read the materials and smiled to practitioners to express their appreciation. Some kind-hearted people said, "Your newspaper is so good." Some people took out money to offer help. Practitioners thanked them for their good intention and told them that we only used our own money to produce these materials, in the hope that more people could learn the truth, and help stop the persecution. More passersby saw practitioners in yellow T-shirts and smiled at them to express their support. "We have seen your materials," "I support you!" "You're doing a very good thing," "You're remarkable, keep it up!"

A young Falun Gong practitioner handing out leaflets Demonstrating the Falun Gong exercises at Union Square Performing the Fan Dance

While holding anti-torture exhibitions at different venues in Manhattan, young practitioners from the Canadian Lotus Arts Troop performed traditional Chinese Fan Dance and the Dai Nationality Dance in Central Park. The police also enjoyed the Falun Gong practitioners' performances. Accompanied by traditional Chinese music and the young ladies' graceful dancing, the peaceful scene attracted people passing by. A middle-aged man pushing his one-year-old son in a baby carrier watched the performance for over an hour. After learning the truth, he said to practitioners, "I don't want to leave after having watched you for over an hour; neither does my son. They are really a group of peaceful young girls. On such rough ground, they can still dance so gracefully. When I understood that this was a form of appealing, I'm amazed. It's the first time in my life I've seen such a beautiful and peaceful appeal." Later, he also voluntarily talked to other passersby while watching the performance. A woman listened to practitioners' explaining the facts about Falun Gong, thought for a while and said, "I should think it over if I want to do business with China in future. I can't invest money in a country that kills good people." A little girl had been watching a video program and did not want to leave after her parents urged her several times.

During the week after the 29th of August, whenever practitioners holding display boards that depicted the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners walked on the streets, many people were shocked at the brutal torture methods. Especially when they saw the photo of Gao Rongrong, a beautiful young woman from Liaoning Province whose face was disfigured by police after having been shocked with electric batons. Many people were dumbfounded and requested materials whilst asking practitioners how they could help. When hearing that Gao Rongrong has been tortured to such a horrific degree, and that the Chinese police still refuse to release her, quite a few kind New Yorkers expressed that they would write to their congressmen and President Bush to request that they show concern over this and call for an end to the persecution. We met a Western woman in her 40's. She sighed when seeing the photo of Gao Rongrong, whose face was disfigured by the police, and when I told that this is just one case out of hundreds of thousands of similarily horrific cases happening in China, she asked practitioners to give her some more materials. She is the assistant to a representative in New York. She wanted to share these materials with the representative and other staff workers in the office, to let them learn that this is happening in China. When practitioners told her that they used their own money to print these materials and presented her with truth clarification VCDs, she happily thanked us, and expressed that she would show the VCDs to those she knew, and expressed that she would ask the representative to write to President Bush and the Chinese Government to help stop the persecution.

An African American man who runs a business on Broadway Avenue felt angry after seeing the photos that depict the persecution. He said, "You should inform the media about this and let them report on such a brutal persecution and let more people know this." He also led practitioners to the locations of several big TV stations and offered his suggestions on how to catch the media's attention to the Falun Gong issue and make reports on it. When practitioners were about to leave, he wished practitioners good luck and hoped to learn to practice the exercise the next time he saw us.

A young man whose ears were full of rings and whose arms were covered with tattoos leaned on his bicycle and talked with a Western practitioner for over 30 minutes. He said he was looking for something, but could not find it. He once learned to practice Yujia, and also tried doing meditation, but could not free himself from feeling empty. Later, he indulged himself in a decadent lifestyle. After listening to a practitioner's explanation, he said he may have found what he had been looking for, and he would give it a try after returning home.

During this period of activities people with predestined relationships came one after another. Many passersby earnestly inquired of practitioners where they could learn to practice Falun Gong. When they were provided with contact information of volunteers in different districts in New York, they were happy that they had obtained something precious. According to feedback from a volunteer coordinator, these days his telephone keeps ringing, and a steady stream of people are making inquiries.

On my trip to New York a few weeks ago, what I saw mostly were indifferent expressions and people passing by in a hurry. This time, my trip to New York left a deep impression. More and more New Yorkers are paying attention to the persecution of Falun Gong. The wonderfulness of Falun Dafa has begun winning the hearts of New York's people.

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