Wave of Action Re-Energizes New York Activism

Photo by Jeff Rae

Photo by Jeff Rae

In spite of raw and rainy weather, several hundred activists participated in Wave of Action events last weekend in New York. April 4 kicked off a three-month period of heightened activism, which Wave of Action’s website describes as “people throughout the world…protesting corruption, rallying around solutions and taking part in alternative systems.” Here are some highlights from New York’s Wave:

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Harlem: The Robin Hood Tax campaign demonstrated outside Congressman Rangel’s office. “The Robin Hood Tax would raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year for people in our communities,” said Michael Tikili, an organizer with the Health Global Action Project. The Robin Hood Tax, also known as the Inclusive Prosperity Act (HR1579) sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, proposes a fee on speculative financial trades on Wall Street. “With those resources we could commit to Dr. King’s dream with the real revenue we need for jobs, living wages, healthcare and equal access to education,” said Tikili.

Activist Barry Knight said, “The Robin Hood Tax should be enacted because without it markets are subject to robo-buying which destabilizes markets and cheats the public. All markets in Europe have a transaction fee, we should have it here.” Its purpose is to raise money for education, heathcare, and jobs creation.

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Zuccotti Park: Over 100 community organizers and activists from dozens of organizations such as Veterans For Peace, People’s Power Assembly, and OccuEvolve, met at Zuccotti Park, the scene of Occupy Wall Street encampment in 2011. In spite of a cold drizzle, they discussed issues and strategies for organizing, and rekindled old friendships. “We are focusing on objectives and to bring people together,” said Harrison Schultz, organizer with Fed Up, a project to educate people about how the Federal Reserve influences money creation. “This proves that the movement of the people is growing on these issues,” he said.

Photo by Jeff Rae

Photo by Jeff Rae

60 Wall Street: Nearly a hundred people met in the atrium of the Deutsche Bank building to discuss healthcare and economic reform. The organization Strike Debt, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, distributed “The Debt Resistors Operations Manual,” a guide for getting out of debt.

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Veterans War Memorial: Members of Veterans For Peace and their supporters held a demonstration at the Veterans War Memorial on Water Street. About fifty NYPD officers were on hand to deal with a crowd of about one hundred people. Five people, including three veterans and two supporters, were arrested when they refused to leave at the park’s 10pm closing time. Before he was arrested, veteran Bill Perry said, “Veterans continue to be affected by PTSD from being deployed to combat while there is not enough funding to help them when they return.”

Photo by John Zangas

Photo by John Zangas

Union Square: On Sunday a dozen immigration groups rallied at Union Square in support of the “Dream Act” and Immigration Reform. The Act, first introduced in the Senate in 2001 and amended since then, provides relief and education for undocumented minors.”The Dream Act offers a path to citizenship for undocumented citizen youth,” said Hong Mei Pang, an organizer for RAISE, a Asian-American Immigration advocacy group. “I believe it is desperately needed since we’re approaching two million undocumented youth,” she said.

Chris Hilo, an advocate with the Migrant Power Alliance said, “Immigrants are being detained by NYPD and then put in detention centers for petty crimes.” She expressed concern about parents being separated from children. “People are already separated from their families so we want to end deportations so that doesn’t happen here.” The Migrant Power Alliance also advocates for a living wage, worker and labor rights, and full citizenship for all immigrants, regardless of nationality.

More events associated with Wave of Action are planned through July 4. Anyone can start their own campaign or join another already in progress. The actions will be held in cities across the world and are intended to highlight working people’s economic struggle brought on by increasing wealth inequality, government surveillance, ecological concerns, and cuts in government services.

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Report back on Wave of Action weekend in New York with autonomous activist Barry Knight and DC Media Group’s John Zangas: