New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and State Senator Adriano Espaillat led a march nearly the entire length of Manhattan in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street today. On their eleven mile journey, they were accompanied by hundreds of marchers, multiple possible 2013 Mayoral candidates and a police escort.
Crowds began gathering on the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 181st Street shortly after 10 a.m. The mostly Latino throng of approximately 400 marchers began moving about half an hour later. They carried homemade signs and drums and took up approximately four to five city blocks.
Senator Espaillat told the Observer he hoped the event would be “the first march in a community movement to bring back the millionaire’s tax.”
“This is the plan of our people–working class, middle class New Yorkers that understand that 1% of New Yorkers need to just give up a little bit more. We’re not going to break their backs. We want them to give just a little bit more so kids can have a good quality education, so that the MTA runs on time, so that we can produce a tiny workfore downtown, so housing is accessible to all people,” Senator Espaillat said.
Public Advocate and potential 2013 Mayoral contender Bill de Blasio marched alongside Senator Espaillat.
“I think this is important. I think this is an effort by Councilmember Rodriguez and others to show that Occupy Wall Street represents the whole city. … If you really distill it down, the movement at Wall Street is calling for real response to the economic crisis, which we haven’t seen from either the private sector or from Washington. I think this march is trying to emphasize that people all over this city are hurting and they’re demanding that response,” Mr. de Blasio said.
At 160th Street, the marchers passed a crew filming the CBS series “A Gifted Man.” Fake styrofoam snow floated through the air and filming stopped as the crew stared at the marchers. We overheard one of the crewmembers ask a colleague, “99% of what?” Eight blocks later, a cleaning crew pounded their rakes and brooms along with the drums eliciting much excitement among the marchers.
Councilman Rodriguez joined the group at 146th Street. Marchers chanted a variety of slogans including “All day — All week — Occupy Wall Street!” and “Get up, get down, there’s a revolution in this town!”
Senator Espaillat, Mr. de Blasio and Councilman Rodriguez weren’t the only politicians we saw during the first leg of the march. State Senator Gustavo Rivera and onetime Mayoral hopeful Jonathan Tasini were also in the crowd.
“I’m probably not going the whole way, but I am going to do 40 or 50 blocks,” Senator Rivera said.
There were approximately 500 marcher in the group when they arrived at the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, but Assemblyman Guillermo Linares claimed the march included as many as 2,000 people at its peak. The Associated Press estimated the crowd at “about 1,000 black and Latino community members.”
Several of the politicians made speeches when the march arrived at its final destination in the Financial District.
“What started here at Zuccotti Park has spread across NY and other cities in America. People are upset, people are angry, people are afraid about the direction the economy’s going. … We want solutions, we want changes, that’s why we’re here, that’s why we’ll stay here, until we get those changes, until we get opportunities for all, until everyone has equality, until everyone has equal access,” Comptroller and 2013 Mayoral contender John Liu said.
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams criticized the Bloomberg administration for “trying to demonize” the Occupy Wall Street movement in his speech at the end of the march.
“You came here eleven miles from Washington Heights to let them know that it started here, but it’s citywide, nationwide. In the rain, in the sleet, Occupy Wall Street. … This one was fantastic, I just think it’s incredible that communities from eleven miles away decided not to come here, but to walk and march here. It’s like the marches in Selma and Montgomery – we’re willing to let people know we’re willing to put in the footwork here,” Councilman Williams said.