The video below, shot by resident Peter Krashes, hinted at a gathering of Falun Gong adherents, and that's exactly what it was, as reported by the Epoch Times, New York’s Barclays Center Hosts Annual Falun Gong Conference.
The announcement that 8000 people would be coming to the arena might have made the monthly Barclays Center events calendar, but the arena didn't distribute one.
But the conference certainly suggested an irony: the Falun Gong, banned in China and subject to severe suppression, was meeting in an arena with emerging connections to the Chinese government.
Arena developer Forest City Ratner has agreed to a joint venture with the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, and Greenland will help revamp the arena roof and build 15 towers. (Also trippy is the view of the practitioners as advertising flashes on the oculus.)
What's Falun Gong?
From a June 2013 Congressional Research Service report:
Falun Gong combines an exercise regimen with meditation, moral values, and spiritual beliefs. The practice is derived from qigong, a set of movements said to stimulate the flow of qi—vital energies or “life forces”—throughout the body, Buddhist and Daoist concepts, and precepts formulated by Falun Gong’s founder Li Hongzhi. The spiritual exercise reportedly gained tens of millions of adherents across China in the late 1990s. On April 25, 1999, thousands of adherents gathered in Beijing to protest the government’s growing restrictions on their activities. Following a crackdown that began in the summer of 1999 and deepened in intensity over a period of roughly two years, the group, which the government labeled a dangerous or evil cult, ceased to practice or agitate in the open. Nonetheless, practitioners continued to gather in secret and the state continued to suppress them.
From the Epoch Times
Today's article, headlined New York’s Barclays Center Hosts Annual Falun Gong Conference, explained that some 8,000 practitioners came for a "large-scale experience sharing conference, known in Chinese as a Fahui."
|Photo via Epoch Times|
The sharing of experiences around the practice of Falun Gong is a central component of the traditional discipline, which was introduced to China in 1992 and by the end of the decade had gained over 70 million practitioners before the Chinese Communist Party launched a brutal persecution that continues to this day.
...Some practitioners had come straight from China especially for this Fahui. These included Mrs. Zhang (not her real name), a peasant from outside a small town in Jilin Province... Mrs. Zhang explained how she would use opportunities in everyday life to encounter other Chinese and tell them about Falun Gong.
“What lovely children you have!” she said, demonstrating the manner in which she might strike up a conversation in her native town. The discussion would then turn to the nature of the Communist Party, which, Mrs. Zhang would explain, is an unjust political regime. She would then explain that Falun Gong is good and peaceful, and unfairly persecuted.