On May 12, Wall Street was the People's Territory
For years, American working families have shouldered the burden of an economic crisis they didn’t create, while those who caused it now reap record-high profits. Last Thursday, tens of thousands of us stormed the belly of the beast, Wall Street, to demonstrate that we are no longer willing to tolerate a status quo of tax giveaways for the rich and sacrifice for the rest of us. For a few shining hours, Wall Street wasn’t the territory of the bankers who drove this country to near collapse. It was, undeniably, the people’s territory.
On May 12, twenty thousand New Yorkers of all ages and from all walks of life flooded Wall Street from end to end for three hours. We marched, sang, chanted jubilantly, and led over 100 teach-ins in the middle of the street to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s recently-announced New York City budget, which would eliminate over 6,000 teachers and cut $400 million in funding to vital services to low-income communities, while leaving $1.5 billion in tax breaks to the city’s wealthiest untouched.
The sea of people was quite a site to behold:
Bloomberg’s proposed budget is the latest in a nationwide series of assaults on working families under the guise of “austerity.”
Bloomberg’s proposed budget is the latest in a nationwide series of assaults on working families under the guise of “austerity.” While unemployment hovers near 10% and inequality in Manhattan is worse than that in Haiti, Mayor Bloomberg is trying to convince us that the only solution is cutting life lines to the most vulnerable. But it’s not.
We have plenty of money to plug our budget gap, provide needed services, and put people back to work. For example, according a recent report from the On May 12 Coalition, NYC doles out $1.5 billion in tax giveaways to New York’s richest corporations and individuals. This is to say nothing of the $8.2 billion in corporate tax breaks that New York State gives away every year, or the $135 million our main economic development entities hand out to companies that fail to create jobs or even cut them.
Of course, cities and states across the country find themselves in similar situations. If the priorities of our country’s leaders lay with working families, their first priority would be to stop the flood of billions of dollars going to line the pockets of the wealthiest while the rest of us suffer. Instead they’re shifting the burden onto teachers, firefighters and others who provide vital public services, working mothers, and low-income children and seniors.
Last Thursday was a major step in building a nationwide movement to take to the streets and demand that our nation’s leaders get their priorities back in order. The May 12 Coalition will be continuing its push to craft a budget built on principles of fairness and rewarding hard work. Visit the On May 12 website or Facebook page to learn more, and stay tuned to hear what JwJ chapters in your city are doing to beat back the attack on working families and advance better solutions for our communities and economy.