OK, teabaggers, here’s how you do a protest at City Hall: a massive crowd of union members and sympathizers flooded the area around the seat of government this afternoon to voice their displeasure with proposed budget cuts that would affect their memberships.
The demo was so crowded that we couldn’t take even a rough headcount, but as the throng reached back hundreds of feet from the locus of the protest, and more protesters were coming as we left at 4:30 p.m., we can safely say that many thousands attended. Organizers say at least 25,000 and maybe 50,000 showed up.
Most of the crowd appeared to be members of DC37, the United Federation of Teachers, SEIU locals 32BJ and 1199, and other unions — many identifiable by the logos on their hats and/or shirts. Union folks handed out protest signs to needful demonstrators at the Park Place subway stop.
Other protesters clearly made their own signs.
The program for the rally was to denounce Bloomberg’s and Paterson’s proposed cuts in healthcare, education, and other areas in which union members were employed — “Stop privatizing our jobs!” yelled one speaker — and to instead make up budget shortfalls with a “fair share” tax on rich but undercontributing New Yorkers.
We only heard a few speeches, which were full of exhortations to chant (“When I say no more, you say cuts”) and solidarity-speak. In the crowd as well as on the dais, protesters frequently referred to each other as brothers and sisters. Though no doubt many had been driven to the rally by a sense of duty or their shop steward, they still made a happy crowd, pleased and maybe relieved to see so many who felt the same way they did, standing at the very threshold of power.