Yesterday Coalition for the Homeless joined organized labor, community groups, and thousands of New Yorkers for an historic march and rally to support the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who are in their third week encamped at Zuccotti Park in the heart of Manhattan's Financial District.
The march began in Foley Square, where #OccupyWalStreet members marched to join thousands of people representing the city's largest labor unions, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, and service providers. We all then marched down to Zuccotti Park, at Broadway and Liberty Street, for an early evening rally.
The march and rally garnered widespread national and local news coverage, including reports from National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Associated Press, NY1 News, the New York Daily News. As Crain's New York reported:
Unionized teachers, janitors, health care, transit and communications workers will join advocates for the homeless and immigrants and students from across the city (who are walking out of classes) in a surge that could provide a boost to a fledgling movement that has widely exceeded the expectations of most observers.
"I'm just looking at it as the possibility for the movement to shift into a higher gear," said Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "The taking over of Zuccotti Park has really captured the attention and imagination of America, and we want to get behind that in a tangible way."
The Coalition joined many of the groups involved in the May 12th Wall Street protests to deliver the message that banks and the wealthy need to pay their fair share instead of more cutbacks to vital services for homeless and low-income people. Most important, in the midst of record homelessness, high unemployment, and State and City budget deficits, New York should not be cutting taxes for the wealthiest households. Michael Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, makes the case against eliminating the "millionaires tax" in an Albany Times Union op-ed:
It's not right to cut taxes on the well-off during a fiscal crisis, particularly when we're cutting aid to schools, seniors and survival services for homeless children. If poor and working people are going to take a hit in tough economic times, it shouldn't be to pay for more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
[President Obama]'s balanced approach to deficit reduction is sound fiscal policy, and it reflects public opinion.
We need the same thing in New York.
Right now we're scheduled to give a $5 billion tax cut to the richest New Yorkers on Dec. 31. We'll revert to a single 6.85 percent tax rate on marginal income for all households making more than $40,000 a year.
As a result, we'll lose the progressive, fair-share tax rates implemented after the economy collapsed and state deficits exploded in 2008.
Coalition for the Homeless will continue to fight for a balanced approach to New York's fiscal constraints, and to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers. And we'll continue to work with the Beyond May 12th Coalition and to support the Occupy Wall Street protesters as we demand that banks and the wealth pay their fair share. As the Crain's New York article noted:
Ms. Brosnahan, of the Coalition for the Homeless, said that the labor and community support could help push the protest to new heights.
"There is genuine, palpable anger out there," she said. "It's not in isolated pockets. People are fed up. I doubt this group wants to remain there forever saying they're angry. At some point it needs to be funneled into constructive steps. That's what I hope will happen."
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