May 13, 2011
There was an earthquake in Manhattan yesterday. But this one was brought on, not by Mother Nature, but by tens of thousands of men and women who marched to protest Mayor Bloomberg's budget cuts and to demand that the wealthy - the fat cats of Wall Street and the banks - be made to pay for the crisis they created.
To shouts of "Tax the rich!" and "Let the banks pay!," they filled the canyons of the financial district where their shouts became a mighty roar, capable, I thought, of making the powerful tremble in their corporate offices at the thought of what might come to be if more and more people start to see the injustices of our economy that concentrates more and more wealth in the top five percent of our population while cutting services for the rest of us.
As the diverse crowd, representative of the multi-racial, multi-national working class of our city, passed by, a man standing next to me on the sidewalk, sighed with deep emotion and said to me "these are the real Americans." It was an observation that summarized, in just a few words, that there was a different version of reality on display - a reality that our corporate media never permits us to see: the diversity, the beauty, the depth and the potential power of "real Americans."
Wisconsin began a new chapter in American history and if yesterday was a sign of things to come, it's that this, indeed, is what democracy looks like and, as they shouted in the streets of Manhattan on May 12th, "the people, united, can never be defeated."
Peace groups (including my own Brooklyn For Peace) marched along with organizations from a wide array of communities: labor, of course, but also student, community, housing, and civil rights groups. Black, white, Latino and Asian, old and young ... all marching together in a spirit of determination and unity that stirred our hearts. This was a very moving experiene for anyone who has hoped and worked for peace and progressive change in our country.
Demands were made for a fair system of taxation and for ending the wars and cutting the bloated Pentagon budget - both of these would free up more than enough money to solve the fiscal crisis, end the cutbacks and put us on the road to actually expanding services for the majority of our people who, following Cuomo and Bloomberg's solutions, are being left out in the cold without shelter or sustenance.
May 12th has stirred a new optimism - that a new day and a new way is ahead if we can keep this movement going and growing. That's the job that lies ahead. Let's get going!
A slide show of my photos is below or click the image and go to my photo site.