NEW YORK – Unionists, Occupy Wall Street supporters, immigrants, women, LGBT activists and the disabled filled Union Square from one end to the other on May Day.
The message from the stage was loud and clear: “We are the 99%; unions, students and immigrants, all of us together can make a better world!” The New York Labor Chorus sang “Solidarity Forever,” and the crowd roared the chorus “and the union makes us strong”!
One demonstrator, Ana from the Bronx, said, “This is a workers’ day, celebrating the 99 percent, represented by different unions, nationalities, ethnic groups and ages.”
She continued, “We are here to protest against the cuts to health care and other problems we are having in this country.”
People came from as far away as Delaware and Maryland to join the New York celebration. Homemade signs denounced greed and demanded government funding of human needs.
Bands, puppeteers and dancers lead many of the contingents. Among the labor unions represented were: the transit workers union, Teamsters, UniteHERE and The Taxi Workers Alliance – with their cabs.
“I’m here with some college friends,” said Jay, a student. “We want everyone to get a fair chance in life. We are the 99% – we are here to let people know, represent, and do the right thing. If you can spend trillions of dollars on war and can’t spend on education that says a lot.”
Dell Smitherin, 1199SEIU, said, “I’m joining in with this solidarity march for worker and immigrant rights. I’m on board with OWS. We need to remember that this is a great step in a movement towards adding true coalition and diversity as we come together and merge all of our issues into one and fight to bring democracy back to our country.”
The NYPD were out in force, first splitting and then diverting the march from Broadway and then back again. But the huge celebration dwarfed their efforts.
The crowd marched on Wall Street and ended at Battery Park.
Photo: Gabe Falsetta/PW