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A Snowy Day

As predicted, it was snowing in New York this morning, but it was not cold and the snow soon turned to slush. I took the subway to Times Square and walked east past the neon signs and the tourists towards Bryant Park, and around the corner onto Fifth Avenue. The demonstration on the steps of the New York Public Library was set to begin at 11 a.m. and I was a few minutes late. American PEN had already set up a small white, protective canopy, chairs, a microphone, and speakers. A small PEN audience, bundled in winter gear, listened attentively as Edward Albee, Dan Delillo, E.L. Doctorow, Jessica Hagedorn, and Honor Moore, among others, read excerpts from Liu Xiaobo’s poetry, the text of Charter 08: “We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes,” and the indictment by the court that sentenced Liu Xiaobo to eleven years in prison.

It was more like a vigil than a demonstration. We held signs with words from Charter 08. We held signs with the words: “Free Liu Xiaobo.” The press recorded the event--the speakers and the audience holding signs. When it was over, a mere thirty minutes later, a delegation walked to the Chinese Mission to hand in a letter.

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