The Occupy Westchester movement and celebrated May Day in White Plains Tuesday to bring awareness to social and economic disparity, as well as corporate greed.
Marjorie Morales—a New Rochelle resident, who is a member of Westchester MoveOn.org and Occupy Westchester that helped to coordinate —said the day of events sought to “awaken people’s awareness to inequality and other people’s suffering in this country.”
The White Plains celebration was among a series of Occupy Wall Street events held in cities around the country on May 1.
The day started at noon in the plaza outside of the where local organizations—like MoveOn.org, Mt. Vernon United Tenants, Westchester for Change, WESPAC Foundation, Occupy Westchester and Hudson Valley Community Coalition—held joint May Day activities including: music, food, and children’s activities.
“I hope to help students through way of education by letting them know what they can do to advocate for students who are undocumented, and who need that help so they can continue their higher education,” said teacher Alberto Minotta, of Tarrytown—who was among a group gathering support for the Dream Act, which would offer a conditionally permanent residency to illegal immigrants who grew up in the United State and graduated from a U.S. high school so they could enroll in either the military or go to college.
The teach-ins were followed by a march through the downtown where about 20 marchers shouted phrases like “We are the 99%” and “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”
More than 100 people, mostly clad in red, showed up across the street from the plaza, on the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Martine Avenue, at 5 p.m. for the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body’s rally, which included fire fighters, police, teachers, utility and communications workers and their families.
“When you look at what’s going on in this county today what do you see?” Harry Farrell, president of the Utility Workers of Union of America Local 1-2, asked the crowd. “You see greed. I see a lot of Verizon signs out there. Your CEO just gave himself a raise he felt he deserved—from $17 million to $23 million and he wants to take away your benefits. This is just one corporation, it’s what we see happening throughout the United States today. It’s a crime.”
Farrell impressed upon the importance of getting family members, neighbors, friends and the whole community involved in fighting for fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
“You need a job, you need the schools to work, you need Cuomo to hear us because his corporate friends are trying to put their feet on our necks—and we’re not going to take it any more,” said Pat Puelo of the Westchester CSEA, who is also a member of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers.
Puelo told the crowd that NYSUT lost 30,000 teachers in the last two years.
“The nation works when we make sure every man and woman has a job,” said Puelo. “We don’t want our children to not have jobs it has to stop now we have to make sure somebody stops the greed.”