FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 6 p.m.
CONTACT: Julie Ferris, C: 443.935.3536, Julie.Ferris@GoodJobsBetterBaltimore.org
Protestors from broad coalition declare “economic emergency for the 99%”
BALTIMORE — Hundreds of Baltimoreans joined in a national protest today, marching across the Howard Street Bridge at twilight and dropping a banner that read: “Bridge the gap between the 99% and 1% — Jobs, Not Cuts.” The Baltimore protest was part of a National Day of Action to mark the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Baltimore’s action was organized by a broad coalition of groups, including Good Jobs Better Baltimore, MoveOn.org, BRIDGE, Transform Baltimore, Occupy Baltimore, 1199SEIU and SEIU Local 32BJ. The assembly stretched all the way across the Howard Street Bridge, and included unemployed workers, religious leaders, teachers, and health care workers who held candles and displayed signs with messages like “Bridges need work, and so do we!” and “Where’s My Bailout?”
Terrell Williams, a Baltimore City Special Educator with Holabird Academy, spoke to the crowd about the urgent need for repairs in his school. “It’s extremely difficult to inspire young people and to convey their importance in the world when you’re doing it in a building that looks like a prison,” said Williams, who related stories about sinks falling from walls, sewage backups, and mold and mildew that teachers mask with disinfectants and deodorizers.
Jeffrey King, an unemployed construction worker who participated in today’s action, talked about his struggle to find work since losing his job in March. “I desperately need work,” King said. “I’m out there every day looking for a job. I’m willing to work hard, but I’m tired of watching Congress give breaks to big banks and corporations and doing nothing to address the concerns of regular Americans. Instead of taking away people’s livelihoods, and their Medicare and Social Security, they should be putting people back to work.”
Similar demonstrations occurred in more than 30 different cities today as part of a national day of action to demand that public officials invest in crumbling infrastructure and put Americans back to work now. Citizens around the country gathered on bridges, some of them structurally unsound, to call on Congress to create jobs and stop cuts. In Baltimore, the Howard Street Bridge was chosen for its high visibility above I-83. However, as of 2009, the Baltimore-Towson metro area had 167 deficient bridges, according to a report released by Transportation for America. Over 3 million people cross these bridges every day.
Lisa Lucas Alston, a long-time union member and Baltimore native, also spoke out at today’s rally. “We’re here today because we want to create a better, stronger Baltimore for everyone,” Alston said. “There is so much work that needs to be done to repair our crumbling infrastructure right here in our city, and hundreds of people desperate for work.”
Three years after Wall Street banks destroyed the economy, 25 million Americans are still unable to find full-time work and the gap between the 1% and the 99% continues to grow. Instead of creating jobs, Congress has been focusing on job-killing budget cuts and tax giveaways for the rich. The Congressional Super Committee is expected to announce plans for deep budget cuts and citizens are outraged that these job-killing cuts will deepen the unemployment crisis, cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and make the economic emergency facing the 99% even worse.
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