Historic Indiana Mobilization Builds on Season of Struggle
Thursday's We Are Indiana rally in Indianapolis capped off nearly three weeks of historic protests at the Indiana statehouse by Indiana's labor movement. The protests are the longest sustained protests in Indiana's history, and they rivaled labor's famous 1995 march on the Indiana Statehouse.
Perhaps more importantly, the 2011 showdown at the state capitol will be remembered for their place amongst popular protests around the world by everyday people standing up to undemocratic government and corporate power. The gathering of nearly 15,000 workers and their progressive allies from around the state and country yesterday marks a new era in American history, in which the unprecedented corporate consolidation of the past four decades is no longer an unchecked political force controlling the future of American workers and working-class communities.
The rally was intended to force Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to abandon the 30 pieces of legislation he's attempting to push through the legislature that attack Hoosier workers, women, immigrants, students, and gays and lesbians. The governor is a leader in the Republican Governor's Association which is closely allied with the Koch brothers, the billionaire family funding the tea party and spearheading the cross-state assault on workers on behalf of organized corporate special interests. The display of strength in the streets of Indy yesterday sent a direct message to Governor Daniels and his pro-corporate, right-wing allies: "Workers rights are what we need, human needs, not corporate greed!"
Workers were addressed by labor leaders and activists from all corners of the country during the Thursday rally. Along with presidents from nearly every major union, workers heard from Robin Mann of the Sierra Club, Teresa Cheng from United Students Against Sweatshops, and James Gooden of the NAACP. Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO told the crowd that Wisconsin workers were standing in solidarity with Indiana, and that the fate of the workers in each state were closely tied.
Michael Torres, Central Indiana Jobs with Justice board member and President of AFSCME Local 3395 added, "Governor Daniels and his right-wing allies are attacking the Hoosier Majority. In this legislative session, they are attacking women, workers, students, immigrants, and gays and lesbians with over 30 proposed laws meant to concentrate power in fewer and fewer hands in the statehouse and corporate boardrooms. Today we stand with our brothers and sisters around the country and world, from Madison to Cairo, Indianapolis to Tunis. We are proud to be amongst those leading and participating in the popular protests in so many countries, demanding fairness and democracy from our governments."
Photo and video: