April 3 & 4: People Need Jobs!
Protesters March on Wall Street Demanding:
Bail Out People, Not Banks!
In an early sign of what promises to be a growing movement, 1,000 people defied a torrential downpour to rally on Wall Street on Friday, April 3 in response to a national call from the Bail Out the People Movement. The central demands of the demonstration were: 1) a real jobs program; and 2) an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.
The protest began with a rally began at Wall Street and Broadway, the center of the financial district, at 1 p.m. on a busy Friday. Participants included unions, community groups, youth and students from Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo and dozens of organizing centers throughout the country.
Larry Holmes, a leader of the Bail out the People Movement and a co-chair of the rally, said, “This is the opening of a serious nationwide struggle for a jobs program.” The Bail Out the People Movement is calling for a jobs program similar to the Work Projects Administration of the 1930’s, which employed millions of people.
Speakers repeatedly denounced the $10 trillion that has been given to banks over the past year.
While the government has given banks trillions of dollars, 4.4 million people have lost their jobs since the economic downturn began in December 2007, more than half of them in the last five months. Thousands have lost their homes in foreclosures and evictions.
As the rain began to let up about halfway through the rally, several members of the youth group FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) began walking down Broadway. The police wanted to keep everyone off Wall Street, but members of FIST were determined to march through the financial nerve center. The police converged on them and pushed them onto the sidewalk. Four youth were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. One of them was pushed around by the cops and also charged with resisting arrest. He was held in jail for nine-and-a-half hours while the others were released after three hours.
Meanwhile, the police ignored the real criminals, who were in the boardrooms and executive offices overlooking the streets. One speaker at the rally, New York City Council Member Charles Barron, said that the crooks who have received $10 trillion that has been given to banks over the past year, “should be looking for bail money to get out of jail.”
LeiLani Dowell, a member of FIST and a rally co-chair, described how the economic crisis was hurting youth and explained that the hardships they face are inherent to the system itself. The other rally co-chairs were Brenda Stokely, a leader of the Million Worker March Movement, and Sara Flounders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center.
Other speakers included Chris Silvera, secretary –treasurer of Local 808 International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Charles Jenkins, Local 10 Transport Workers Union; a representative of the Stella D’oro strikers campaign; Sandra Hines, of Detroit’s Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures & Evictions; and Monica Moorehead, of Workers World Party.
Following the rally, the Bail Out the People Movement took their message directly to the banks, marching down Pine Street to AIG, which has received a total of $170 billion in bailout money, chanting “Jobs for All” and “Jail ‘Em, Don’t Bail ‘Em.” Protesters marched through the narrow streets of the financial district, confronting financial giants like Citigroup, Fidelity, AIG, American Express, the Federal Reserve and the New York Stock Exchange. They then proceeded on to Water Street, stopping at another AIG building, and then went under the Brooklyn Bridge to Foley Square for a closing rally.
Organized labor came out in full force marching behind their banners. There were contingents from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; District 37 Locals 375 and 768; Teamsters Local 808; United Federation of Teachers Local 2; UFT Local 37-901; striking Stella D’oro workers; BCT Local 50 from the Bronx; and New York City Labor Against the War. Others on the march included members of District 1199 New England; Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers/AFSCME; United Autoworkers Local 100 of Detroit; and Transit Workers Union of NYC.
The April 3 march was held on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who called for a right to a job or income for all. The following day, the United for Peace and Justice Coalition held another march on Wall Street which went down Broadway and ended at Battery Park. The Bail Out the People Movement held a brief rally overlooking the New York Stock Exchange and joined the march as it went by.
UPCOMING ACTIONS - CHECK OFTEN FOR UPDATES
May Day in NYC, LA and cities across the U.S.
Detroit People’s Summit at Grand Circus Park from June 14-17
Bail Out the People Movement
55 W. 17th St. #5C
New York, NY 10011