Thousands Protest Draconian Budget Cuts With March on Wall Street, Demand That We "Make the Banks Pay"
Thousands of New Yorkers descended on Wall Street yesterday to protest the awful budget cuts being proposed by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and draw attention to the fact that the big banks are to blame for the city's financial problems. Organized by the May 12 Coalition, the march brought out at least 10,000 protesters (and maybe as many as twice that number), including teachers, union workers, labor advocates, and city officials. As theHuffington Post reports, "Demonstrators from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) alone, which faces more than 4,000 teacher cuts if Bloomberg's budget is enacted as is, numbered in the thousands." One attendee, journalist M. Gould-Wartofsky, tweeted that he "[hadn't] seen anything like this in NYC since before 9/11."
Rev. Al Sharpton, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and an array of city councilmembers and state elected officials laid the blame for the budget cuts squarely at Bloomberg and Wall Street's feet.
"Wall Street recovered, hedge funds got stimulated, and now they want to lay off teachers and close day care centers," Sharpton said. "We're going where they sent the money," he said of the march.
Organizers claimed the city could prevent budget cuts by reinstating the state's "Millionaire Tax," ending subsidies for large companies that failed to meet job-creation targets and renegotiating city contracts with the big banks. They estimate their proposals could save New York City $1.5 billion and billed the event as a demonstration not just against the Bloomberg budget plan but also as an effort to "make the banks pay."