Brooklynites rally in support of Occupy Wall Street movement

October 26, 2011 Helen Klein
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Labor leaders and union members joined Brooklyn electedofficials and activists on the steps of Borough Hall on October 25,to express solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in a rally thatkicked off a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, with participantsintending to join the protesters in Zuccotti Park.

We want to show that Brooklyn is in the house, and Brooklyn canmake a difference, boomed Assemblymember Vito Lopez, the chair ofthe Kings County Democratic Party, who organized the event. All weare doing is advancing an agenda that we have had for a long time -build affordable housing, have decent jobs, keep a solid base ofprograms out there. The only way to do it is through a revenuepackage.

That, said Lopez, meant either keeping the so-called millionaire’stax – a surcharge on the income of the rich set to expire at year’send- or getting 400 Wall Street firms to make voluntarycontributions to a fund to finance services andgovernment-sponsored works projects, such as repairs toinfrastructure that would provide jobs and benefit residents whomust live with aging roads, school buildings, and the like.

There is broad support for a millionaire’s tax, according to arecent Siena College poll, which found 72 percent of New Yorkersfavored raising taxes on people earning $1 million or more ayear.

Borough President Marty Markowitz underlined three disturbingrealities — the disparity in the country between the rich andeveryone else which, he said, is growing, and almost greater thanany other nation in the world, as well as the fact that U.S.-basedcompanies have shipped jobs overseas that could help fuel thecountry’s economy. Finally, Markowitz said, there is the trend inWashington of less government, which, he stressed, has the mostsevere impact on you and me and all the other working stiffs. I’mnot one who believes in soaking the rich, but I say, if you earnmore, you have a responsibility to share a little more.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries agreed. Income inequality is worsenow than it has been since prior to the Great Depression, hepointed out, asking the crowd, Are we trying to take over theworld? I say, why not?

He was not the only person to talk tough. Councilmember Steve Levintold the crowd, We are going to take back our society. And, StateSenator Eric Adams added that there has been, Enough talk. It’stime to act. We need to occupy the wallets of the millionaires andmake them pay their fair share.

This is really Brooklyn speaking out, remarked Kevin PeterCarroll, a Democratic district leader from Bay Ridge. People areliving in poverty across the entire borough. We are here to say wesupport most of the goals of Occupy Wall Street.

Afterwards, representatives of the United Federation of Teacherswho work out of southwestern Brooklyn, gave their take on theimportance of the movement – and its impact on the lives of youngpeople.

Ellen Driesen, the District 20 UFT representative, explained,Going into schools that are overcrowded, with high poverty levels,it is easy to see the disparity between the haves and thehave-nots. We care about the kids, care about the families, careabout the community and making sure the services they depend on arethere. We are educating the next generation of our neighbors and wewant them to have a fair shake. We want them to have jobs.

Restoring programs that have been axed, like arts and sports, isessential, added Judy Gerowitz, the District 21 UFT representative,so that a generation is not lost by devastating school cuts, sheemphasized.

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