Occupy Wall Street stages second anniversary march in New York

NEW YORK – Occupy Wall Street, the movement that coined the term for and dramatized the plight of the the overwhelming majority (the 99 percent) of Americans, was back on the streets here yeserday, marking the second anniversary of its birth.

The demonstration came on the heels of a primary electon in which overwheming majorities of voters cast their ballorts for candidates who rejected the big business poltics of Republican Mayor Bloomberg.

Progressives look forward to a victory in the general election by Bill Di Blassio, the winner of the Democatic primary and a progressive majority on the City Council – putting an end to what they see as having been 20 years of government in the interest of the rich and powerful in New York.

Among the demonstrators were members of the Transit Workers Union, Local 100, the New York State Nurses Adssociation and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3.

“For the last two years we have tried to negotiate a contact with the MTA,” said David Dowling, a train operator and chief of staff of Local 100. “Gov. Cuomo has insisted that they maintain a position of three-year wage freeze and pay $5,000 per member per year for health care; we’ve said ‘no,’ we refuse to make those concessions.

“The answer is simple,” Dowling added. “Every year the Transit Authority pays $100 million dollars to Wall Street banks in what is known as an interest rate swap. Renegotiate your interest rate swaps, insist that they sit down and renegotiate the swaps that were set before the financial crisis.”

As the march followed the planned route, chants and cheers could be heard for blocks: “The banks were bailed out, we were sold out,” and “Restore the Robin Hood Tax,” the stock transfer tax that was eliminated in 1977 when Democrat Abraham Beame was mayor. A 0.2 percent tax on commodity futures trades and 0.25 percent on stock trades would raise millions of dollars.

Maria Roca, another demonstrator, said, “I’m here because I’m a patient. Brooklyn is the fastest growing borough and we have had the largest number of hospital closures, most of them because of the profit that can be made from off their real estate values. It doesn’t make sense economically long term, if you would want a world-class city as we are always touting the world that we are, without world-class health care; world-class transportation; world-class education. It is not in the government’s interest. Health care is at the root of a child’s ability to learn. If the one percent think they can run things with employees who have to be absent because they are sick, they just don’t get it.”

Natalie Faublas-Dorner, RN, member of the New York State Nurses Association, said, “I’m here to save New York City hospitals. They are trying to close all the hospitals. There is a lot of health care to be given to a lot of patients in need. They want to change our hospitals into condominiums.”

The rally and march ended at Bryant Park here marchers were entertained by, and sang along with, the internationally known Sweet Honey and the Rock.

Photo: Libero Della Piana/PW


Gabe Falsetta
Gabe Falsetta

Long-time social justice activist Gabe Falsetta writes from New York City.