They came together in celebration, not anger or fear. The common thread among the 150,000 who marched, coming from around the world and across the country, and the estimated 2.5 million who watched along the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade route: Free to be me.
The parade, which took eight hours to complete and was
estimated to be the largest Pride event in history, was particularly poignant,
honoring the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising, which
are considered the trigger to the modern LGBTQ movement.
Jim Foray, among the Grand Marshals at the parade, was there
that night. He was living just a block away and recalled the Stonewall as a
“sleazy bar where we were grateful and exploited.” The bar, reputedly owned by
the Mafia, was regularly raided by the police.
What a difference 50 years has made, noted Julian Sanjivan,
NYC Pride March Director. “They had no way of knowing what the next 50 years
would bring, no way to know they were starting a global movement, changing
hearts and minds everywhere.” And who could have expected an openly gay and
married man, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, running for
Fear and loathing has given way to pride and joy.
Five Grand Marshals lead both the 50th NYC Pride March: the cast of POSE, represented by Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca); Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Gay Liberation Front; The Trevor Project and Monica Helms.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning
celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll –
partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours’ list, to
protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ+ penal codes across its empire
– she is a senior official at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade
union as the Head of Equality and Learning. She’s a community builder and
organizer; a Kaleidoscope Trust Trustee; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron; Diva
Magazine columnist, and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and
Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist
organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion. The courageous members of
GLF fought to give political shape and direction to a whole new generation of
LGBTQ militancy that spread with unprecedented vigor and impact across the
nation and the world.
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention
and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The organization works to save
young lives by providing support through free and confidential programs,
including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. They also run
TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ
youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.
Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran
of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the
creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the
original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.
It was indeed a demonstration of world pride – there were
marchers from Copenhagen, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal,
Australia, Holland, and so many other places.
American cities and states were represented as well, from
coast to coast and in between – from Palm Beach and Orlando to Palm Springs,
San Francisco and Venice (California), Austin to Washington DC, Brooklyn,
Boston, even Native American tribes.
Here are highlights from the WorldPride NYC 2019:
A clear sign of the changing times was the outpouring of
elected and government officials who joined the march. New York State Governor
Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay
and trans panic legal defense, a key component of his 2019 Justice
In stark contrast to the 40,000 marching with joyful exuberance and pride in the Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday, June 2, there was a smattering of the oddest collection of protesters, who stood on one small stretch Fifth Avenue in front of the fountain between 58-59 streets.
There were religious Jews who claim that a state of Israel should not exist until the Messiah has come; a few Palestinians accusing Israel of terrorism, clearly ignoring the thousands of bombs lobbed from Gaza; and a couple of what are presumed American Jews who charge that the West Bank settlements are immoral and an impediment to peace.
Things got testy at points between the marchers and
the handful of pro-Palestinians, with loud shouting matches and dueling flags, the
protesters wielding cellphones, hoping to provoke some viral video, across a
10-foot “no man’s land” between metal barriers guarded by police.
When US Senator Charles Schumer came by, he at first
passed stoically as a few hecklers taunted him (a Trump supporter yelled at him
to “Go Home” – the Senator from New York is from Brooklyn) but finally turned
his bullhorn to respond to a woman who screamed “Why are you supporting Israel?”
with a comment that boiled down to “Why shouldn’t Jews have a homeland?” At
which point his aides refocused him and he marched on.
The encounters seemed to get more heated as the
afternoon wore on, but as the police successfully moved marchers along using tact
and restraint to defuse the situation, even stopping the protesters from using
an elongated pole on their flag like a lance, and the marchers went into a celebratory
song and dance.
But as I stood between the two screaming entities,
reflecting on the thousands of marchers parading jubilantly, protected by a
police force against the smattering of opponents, I thought how different it
would be living in a society that oppressed Jews (or any minority), where that
minority had to live in fear, practice in secret, where the police, the courts
and the government were agents of suppression and repression, and instead of
thanking the police officer on 57th Street as they passed, as I saw
just about every group do, they had to fear the police, fear the state. The
images of police beating protesters at Pettus Bridge in 1965 Selma; Kristallnacht
in 1938 Germany came to mind.
How different things could be.
“And I want the people of this state to be clear: anti-Semitism
is not just wrong and immoral and unethical and anti-American; it is also
illegal,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told a press gaggle as he began the march. “And
we will enforce the law to the fullest extent and you have my word on
“As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish
people, I’m going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity
right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join
us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish
today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New
York, New York and one of the best parts.”
Asked what is being
done to combat the wave of anti-Semitism, Cuomo said, “We have increased the hate crime penalties all
across the state. We are working on more understanding, more
communication, but we’re also going to enforce the law because it has
reached a critical point. Eighty-three percent increase in the state
of New York. Twenty-two percent increase in neo-Nazi groups. And by the way,
I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They
are domestic terrorists. That’s what they are. And this is not part of the
democracy. They spread hate, they spread violence, they attack and every
politician—Democrat, Republican—should condemn these neo-Nazi groups and call
them for what they are.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo had as his special guest Devorah
Halberstam, who runs the Jewish Children’s Museum. Halberstam started the museum in
honor of her son Ari Halberstam who was killed in an anti-Semitic
attack. This week, an anti-Semitic note was left there, “Hitler is
“We are here to celebrate Israel,” Cuomo said. And it’s more appropriate than usual this year because the blunt truth is there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in this country and in this state. There’s been about a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States of America. People have heard about the Pittsburgh horrendous temple attack, in California. But a 57 percent increase. There’s been an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the State of New York, 83 percent increase all over the state – upstate, Long Island, Brooklyn, I just mentioned Devorah Halberstam’s most recent attack.”
Just a few days later, on June 6, after another incident of anti-Semitism in which the words “Kill All Jews,” “Israel” and “Mario Cuomo” were written on a mailbox in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Cuomo said, “Hate speech and threatening language has no place in our state, and the mailbox was immediately replaced with a new one after the graffiti was reported.
“Enough is enough.
We are reaching our breaking point and these despicable acts of violence must
stop. We will not back down in this fight against intolerance and bigotry, and
we will continue to stand up to those individuals who spew hateful language and
attempt to spread fear across our state.
“As New Yorkers and
as a nation, we must denounce anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms. I am
directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes unit to assist the NYPD in the
investigation into this incident and to provide all resources necessary to hold
accountable those responsible.
“In the face of
these ongoing incidents that are ripping at the fabric of our State, we will do
everything in our power to ensure the continued safety and equal treatment of
all New Yorkers.”
As women rallied across the country in a national
day of action against the rush of abortion bans, New York City said New York
State would become a sanctuary and the city would seek to create a fund to help
women who cannot afford to obtain abortion services.
Hundreds turned out in downtown Manhattan across from the US Court Building at a rally to #StopTheBans – the epidemic of increasingly draconian anti-abortion legislation designed to force the Supreme Court to render a new decision they believe will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade which established that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the time the fetus was viable outside the womb, 24 weeks. Many states not only put significant barriers that have forced clinics to close, chipping away at the “undue burden” provision that has endured subsequent Supreme Court scrutiny, leaving only one or two clinics in a state, but all but 15 states deny Medicaid funding to cover abortions, while many private insurance companies also do not cover abortion services.
“A right without true access is merely a privilege,”
said New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante.
At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have
tried multiple times to end funding to Planned Parenthood despite the Hyde
Amendment’s prohibition of any federal funds to be spent on abortion services,
is . Now, the Trump Administration is allowing private insurers to offer
policies that do not cover maternity care, dismissing the rising rates of
maternal mortality, especially among minorities and lower income women, as
Trump reverses the gains in access to care made under Obamacare.
But though New York State’s recently adopted
Reproductive Health Act not only allows for abortions beyond 24 weeks of
gestation in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not
viable, and also expands the professionals authorized to conduct abortions to
certain physicians assistants, nurses and midwives, if the Supreme Court adopts
the concept of fetal personhood, as these new extreme laws propose, that could
jeopardize the legality of abortions everywhere.
That is a reason that many of the speakers at the
Tuesday Stop the Bans Day of Action rally in New York called for a renewed rise
in a nationwide movement to protect reproductive freedom, and insisted, “We are
not going back.”
Here are highlights from the rally:
“From Alabama to Ohio, extremist politicians are
trying to ban safe, legal abortions,” declared Leann Risk, associate director,
community organizing for Planned Parenthood, NYC. “Activists in all 50 states are engaged in a massive
show of strength. We will not stand for the bans, not now, not ever, no way.”
President and CEO Of Planned Parenthood NYC, declared, “We say to delusional politicians, stop the
abortion bans. ..We are facing a sick attempt to strip us of fundamental
humanity and autonomy. This is a coordinated attempt to drive care underground,
to force a showdown in the Supreme Court…
“Fact: 73% of Americans do not want to overturn Roe;
nearly one in four women in the United States will have an abortion in her
“These are not lawmakers, but lawbreakers, trying to
dismantle rights we have had for nearly five decades. We won’t stand for
blatant injustice against our reproductive rights. Abortion is the law of the
land – legal today, will be legal tomorrow, as long as Planned Parenthood
(which has existed over 103 years) and ACLU and so many others exist.”
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer declared, “It’s time
for NYC to become the first in the nation to directly fund abortion care –
guarantee access to abortion regardless of the ability to pay.” He is
advocating a New York City Abortion Access Fund.
Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney, revealed
her own terrifying experience, nearly bleeding to death when she was in her 20s
because of a back alley abortion after being raped at gunpoint.
“As I lay hemorrhaging in a bathtub, [the
abortionist] said, ‘It’s your problem now.’ Back then, the only time you would
be admitted to a hospital is if you were bleeding to death. I was running 106
degree fever. I was put in a ward with others suffering after an illegal
abortion” where the patients were shamed.
“The nurse told me, ‘This should teach you a
lesson,’” Allred said. “It taught me a lesson all right: abortion should be
safe, legal, affordable and accessible!
“We will never allow abortion to be criminalized
again.. No elected official has the right to make a choice for us. Resist.
Insist. Persist. Elect Pro Choice candidates.”
New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, said, “The
bans are about control. The people pushing the bans are chipping away at our
rights…We cannot be silent. Women are more than half the population. We will
tell [these politicians] ‘Women brought you into this world and women can take
you out [pause] of office. We will march, organize, donate and vote.”
She was soon joined by Mayor Bill DiBlasio who said,
“New York respects women. We are not going back. This is a fight for our lives.
We know women will die because of these laws. We know the American people will
support freedom of women. The rights of women matter most.”
Eve Ensler playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” shared her own experience getting an abortion. “That abortion was the smartest thing I have done…. Tell that predator-in-chief and those misogynists, ‘Get your invasive, violent hands off our bodies. Our vaginas, uterus, minds are out of the bottle and we ain’t going fucking back. My body, my choice. Are you up for the fight?”
“We are here because we are outraged,” said Andrea Miller, president and CEO of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “These anti-abortion extremists tell women they can’t be trusted to make our own decisions. They don’t believe we should have the right to control our bodies, our families, our futures. That we are not able to choose our destiny. We say no. The decision whether, when, with whom to have children belongs to us, not politicians.
“New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act.
We knew what was coming, coming for our rights. We aren’t just seeing things go
back. We are partnering with people moving forward. New York is not done if
reproductive rights are not accessible, affordable.”
The NIRH is partnering with New York City on the
first Abortion Action Campaign Fund – seeking $250,000 in the city’s budget to
fund abortion care for those who cannot afford it. Call the City Council to
“We know our health, our lives, our futures depends
on stopping the bans. Make sure abortion is safe, legal, accessible,
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer urged
support for the city to pass the funding. “To say we’re livid is an
understatement… [The impact of these fetal personhood bills means] that a
woman who suffers a miscarriage could be in the middle of a criminal investigation.
Before Roe, women died, now abortion is one of the safest medical procedures
that can be performed.
“A frigging tough fight is ahead but we will never
back down,” she declared, prompting chants of “Won’t go back. Won’t go back.”
Clara Williams, a Planned Parenthood patient,
related how difficult, how complicated and how personal the decision to seek an
abortion is. At the time of her abortion, she was very young, her partner had
left her, she did not feel she could properly care for a child.
“That is a decision no one can make for you, least
of all a politician,” she said. “The rash of bans sweeping the nation, to force
a showdown with the Supreme Court, make abortion inaccessible to communities of
color, people of low income. Banning doesn’t end abortion, just marginalizes
“Abortion is nobody’s business. Whatever the reason,
it is not undertaken flippantly. But what kind of life is it if we aren’t the
authority, don’t have the right, to control our own destiny?”
“Abortion is necessary health care, and health care
is a human right. Punishing those who provide health care, the doctors, is
inhumane and cruel.”
Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties
Union said, “We won’t let them turn the 21st century into Handmaid’s
Tale. It is ironic that those who would ban abortion claim to care about life,
but Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, Alabama has
the highest infant mortality rate. If they cared about life, they would be
expanding health care, not making it a crime.
“I am fortunate to live in New York. New York has
stepped up to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which codifies Roe, protects
New York from criminals led by the philanderer-in-chief and his sanctimonious
minions. He may have stacked the court, but we won’t let them turn back the
The ACLU is mounting legal challenges in Georgia and
“We will tell the philanderer in chief, ‘We’ll see
you in court.’”
The vast majority – almost three out of four Americans
– support a woman’s right to choose and preserving Roe, and they vote.
“We know New York supports women’s right to control
their own bodies. We rallied to make New York a sanctuary city against the
Trump crusade against immigrants. We must also be a sanctuary for women. Thanks
to the effort of the ACLU and others, abortion is legal in all 50 states and we
have stopped the bans [from being enacted] so far. New York City, New York
State must be a sanctuary..”
But even though New York State was one of the first
to legislate reproductive rights, before the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, the laws
were still surprisingly repressive, criminalizing abortion after 24 weeks.
Garin Marshall related his experience when he and his wife learned at 30 weeks that the fetus she was carrying, “a baby that was very much wanted”, was not viable. “We were denied care in New York State [because of the 24-week ban].” But they had the means to seek services elsewhere. Nonetheless, their experience helped change the law in New York, passing the Reproductive Health Act.
“Abortion was the right choice for our family.
People are deserving of autonomy, dignity, respect,” Marshall said.
But, he argued, this is not just women’s issue. Men
have much at stake as well, for the women in their lives they love, and their
“Men benefit from access to legal, safe, affordable
abortion. Men created this problem, especially white men, who held on to power
and used it. Good men who do nothing have allowed this situation…This is our
problem, too. The house is on fire, but it is our house.
“Fight for access to abortion throughout pregnancy,
with no person left behind.”
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who has been fighting
for abortion rights for 20 years, declared, “We can’t let these men who have no
idea what they’re talking about get away with this crap.
“I used to walk around with a necklace with a
hangar. We won’t go back, but only if we become a movement. Abortion access
Planned Parenthood of NY Chief Medical Officer Ila Dayananda, “This is an attack on all of
us. Under these laws, the fact a doctor can receive jail time for providing
service is horrific. One in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
Health care is a fundamental human right.
“There is no banning abortion, only banning safe,
legal abortion. These bans particularly hurt women of color, low income. They
should receive nothing less than compassion, expert health care, and to be able
to make the decision for themselves. There are many complicated factors in this
decision. People deserve to be empowered to make their own decision.
“We won’t go back. Smash the patriarchy.”
[Poster: Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers]
New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante urged
financial support for those in New York seeking abortion.
“Abortion access is out of reach for many for a long
time – both financial and legal access. If private insurance doesn’t cover an
abortion, it is a potentially astronomical cost. Often, people can’t use
insurance because of privacy and safety, because they fear partner violence.
“Our clients are immigrants, people living in
affordable housing, undergoing family separation, parents and caregivers, and increasingly,
people traveling to New York. They may have Medicaid but many states don’t
allow Medicaid coverage for abortions.”
She said her organization has already provided
assistance to 590 people through grass roots fundraising.
“Care has been inaccessible for a long time. A right
without true access is merely a privilege. Petition the City Council to fund
[Poster: I wish my uterus shot bullets, so the government wouldn’t regulate it.]
Director of Operations for Black Lives Matter, NYC,
Shaavronna Newsome. “People imposing bans are hiding behind Christianity, but
this is really about declining birthrate, capitalism, patriarchy. I am grateful
to be in New York where I can choose.”
Celia Petty, a founding member of NYC for Abortion
Rights, told how she has had three abortions in her life – the first when she
was very young and had just broken up with her boyfriend. “This was the 1970s.
I wasn’t capable of raising a child. I was afraid I would regret. But I was
relieved that I could wait until ready.”
Her second was when she found she was pregnant with
a six month old baby (don’t believe you can’t get pregnant if you are nursing).
“I was trying to work full time and still care for a new baby. I couldn’t
The third time was again, despite using birth
control, when she got pregnant with a 10-month old baby in the house. “I had to
work to make ends meet. An abortion saved my life,” she says as her young
granddaughter, clings to her leg as she speaks at the podium.
“A lot of women have abortions out of more desperate
An active founding member of New York for Abortion Rights, she said, “We seek full reproductive justice, the right to bear children in a safe, healthy environment. We want a grass roots movement to demand reproductive freedom – the right to control our bodies and our lives.”
That prompts the chant: “Without this basic right, women can’t be free.
Abortion on demand, without apology.”
The New Yorkers who
rallied in front of the US Courthouse in downtown Manhattan, were among tens of
thousands of people gathered at more than 500 events in all 50 states, DC, and
Puerto Rico on the Stop the Bans Day of Action.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of New York City on Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the third annual Women’s March organized by the Women’s March Alliance, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave and reproductive freedom, to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social, political, environmental and economic justice. (See also With Cry of ‘Your Voice Your Power,’ Alliance Mounts 3rd Annual Women’s March on NYC Jan. 19)
The marchers got particularly animated outside of
Trump Tower Hotel on Central Park West, chanting “Shame, Shame, Shame,”
extending a finger, and waving placards calling for “Indict, Impeach, Imprison.”
The protesters use their bodies as message boards. Here are highlights:
Thousands gathered at Times Square in Manhattan precisely at 5 pm on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, a day after Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and only two days after the Blue Wave swept over the House and into state houses across the country, and appointing Matthew Whitaker the Acting Attorney General, a sycophant who has been outspoken against the Muller “lynch mob” and the liberal “Russian hoax.”
Within minutes, the numbers gathered at Duffy Square in Times Square in Manhattan grew to the thousands; soon people were packed together, waving hand-drawn signs and chanting “Trump is not Above the Law,” and “Protect Mueller.” After about an hour, they marched down Broadway about two miles to Union Square through streets and crossroads that clogged with rush hour traffic, past stores and offices still busy with people – a contrast to typical protests which go through vacant caverns on a weekend morning. They were greeted with supporters all along the route.
New York City was one of about 1000 such rallies across the nation, a response to Donald Trump’s latest in-your-face lawless outrage: firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to replace him with a sycophant, Matthew Whitaker, whose only “qualification” to be the Acting Attorney General is that he, like now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expressed willingness to shield Trump, his family and associates from investigation.
The NYC Planning Team later reported that best estimates put the numbers at 6,000, part of a nationwide turnout of over 100,000 people who came out with less than 24 hours notice.
Whitaker had been auditioning for the job in appearances on TV – the recruitment ground for any number of Trump appointees, including his Director of Communications, the ex-Fox News executive Bill Shine – expressing disdain for Mueller’s team as a “lynch mob”, and declaring in interviews in 2017 that the Russia investigation was a liberal hoax, and while there may have been interference by Russia into the election, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. No one bothered to ask how Whitaker, who said he wanted to come to Trump’s attention in order to get a job with the Administration in Washington, would have any direct knowledge of the “evidence” to support his claims.
Whitaker was critical of the investigation in an August 2017 CNN op-ed, saying that Mueller investigating Trump’s finances would be crossing a red line, even though the question of whether the Trump empire is built on money laundering for Russian oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin is key to whether there was in fact a conspiracy, or collusion, between Russia and the Trump campaign, and whether Trump’s foreign policy decisions are impacted by whether other governments have sway over him (a partial list: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Panama. Yet Whitaker is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country.
Whitaker also defended Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian officials promising opposition research against Hillary Clinton, stating, “You would always take that meeting,” demonstrating not only his bias (and conflict of interest) but his ignorance of law (it’s illegal to take anything of value from a foreign power; the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton was illegally obtained, which would render the Trump campaign a co-conspirator). But defending illegality is not new: he served on a board of a company that, like Trump University, existed to bilk its customers, and which used Whitaker’s position as a federal prosecutor to bully those who would have sued. And yet, he is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country. (But dishonesty, along with blind loyalty to Dear Leader, seem to be the prerequisites for a Trump appointment.)
Whitaker, as a 2014 candidate for US Senate from Iowa, had promised he would vote for federal judicial nominees who have “a Biblical view of justice.” He also expressed disdain for the notion of the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of government, and blasted the original decision, Marbury v Madison from 1803 which established the Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality. (I’ll bet he thinks differently now that Trump has put two Federalist Society judges on the court for a long-term conservative majority.)
Trump had to jump over the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of the Mueller investigation, in order to pluck Whitaker, who was a chief-of-staff to Sessions for a matter of months. Despite basically carrying out Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights agenda, Sessions was pilloried by Trump for having recused himself from the Russia probe, since Sessions was part of the Trump campaign and lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about having had contact with Russians. The likelihood is that Trump deliberately planted Whitaker in the post precisely for this maneuver.
On the other hand, many legal scholars have said Whitaker is not legally allowed to be the Acting chief-law-enforcement officer for the nation since he has never gone through a confirmation process. Again, Trump is likely thinking he can get anyone through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Some 19 different organizations, including Moveon.org, Need to Impeach and Democracy for America,, sent out the “Emergency. Break the Glass” notice, triggered when Trump moved to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to rally people in New York City and around the country.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12) was among those who addressed the protesters in Union Square. Also, among the organizers, a Brooklyn College student, a mother from Connecticut with an autistic child; and Therese Okoumou, who scaled the Statue of Liberty last July 4 to protest Trump’s family separation policy.
Here are more photo highlights from the New York City rally and march to protect Mueller:
About 1,000 people gathered in Washington Square Park in downtown Manhattan for a rally, teach-in, and March for Science. Speakers, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, decried the politicization of science, the censorship, banning and defunding of scientists and research, and warned that the United States will lose its economic and political leadership in the world if it loses its place on the forefront of scientific innovation and development.
All I could think about as I marched the 1.8 miles from Washington Square Park down Broadway to Zuccotti Park (famous for the Occupy Wall Street movement), is how sad, how pathetic, what an embarrassment for the United States of America to have to hold demonstrations to “Save Science.” We have regressed back to the Salem Witch Trials.
The New York City March for Science was one of many organized around the country during this Earth Month (April 22 is Earth Day). Last year, the first year of such demonstrations, brought out 1.3 million in support of robust science research, evidence-based policies, and science education. “Today, we continue the momentum gained from last year’s inaugural march to show policy makers that the March for Science is more than a single-day event. It’s a movement.”
“The 2018 March for Science New York City recognizes the importance of an informed democracy in order to maintain a free, healthy, happy, and accessible society. That is why we come together as a community of non-partisan scientists and friends to show the importance of protecting and promoting people’s rights, the public’s access to scientific information, the environment in which we exist, and scientific research. We hope to use this march to spark increased community involvement for the promotion of science for the common good through sustained action.”
“Science is beacon to a better future, health care, technology, transport,” declared Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). “Devotion to science is at the root of progress in every industry, lifting people from poverty; expanding opportunity, saving lives, feeding the hungry. We will never fund a better investment.
“But Congress wants to cut funds for research, cut fuel efficiency standards. [America] is losing leadership because of cutbacks,” she said. “We have to go forward….Science took us to moon.. America is the tech, innovation leader in the world because of science. Science brought us success.
“We must support science, truth, freedom and democracy,” said Maloney, a sponsor of the Science Integrity Act to shield science from ideology.
Paul Gallay of Riverkeeper, which has helped to clean up the Hudson River and drinking water throughout the state, contrasted the backward movement by the federal government to the progress in New York State. Largely based on the data collection by Riverkeeper and other advocates, New York has allocated $3 billion to improve water infrastructure based on scientific data, and a new law that requires testing and regulation of “emerging contaminants, “because we in New York value science.
“The EPA has been decimated. Hundreds of scientists who were there in January 2017, are gone. Ideology masquerades as policy. There is no quantitative analysis, just press releases.
“You keep doing research, driving innovation and groups like Riverkeeper will fight for policies to get clean water. And if politicians don’t, we’ll keep suing.
“We need to get politics out of science – get more active. And not just once a year. Make policies about science, not in spite of science. Pound pavement, so they can hear it in DC. Tell your state senators, local politicians to fight for science, save science,” Gallay said.
Bill Ulfeder, executive director of The Nature Conservancy, declared, “Science is what makes America great. It is essential for health, prosperity, safety, security.
“This is Earth Month (April 22 is Earth Day). Scientists, including Rachel Carson, alerted the country to the dangers of pollution, pesticides. Science informed the Endangered Species Act.
“For 65 years, the Nature Conservancy has been guided by science. We believe in the power of science to solve the problems we face – climate change, food shortage, disease. Only through science can we create a world where nature and humans thrive together.
“Invest in science. Appreciate that science needs and deserves diverse voices – more perspectives – to inform, promote healthy debate to make the best choices.”
Lauren Kurtz, Executive Director of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF), charged that “Scientific facts are downplayed, rejected. Policies are advocated that run counter to known science, including climate science.” And when that happens, CSLDF, which works to protect the scientific endeavor in general and climate scientists in particular by providing legal support and resources to scientists who are threatened, harassed, or attacked for doing their job, fights back.
“We keep track: 126 incidents when the government silenced scientists. Regulations have not kept pace with science and of the health risk of certain chemicals. We want stronger rules.”
“Removing ‘climate change’ [from EPA, Department of Agriculture and other government agency sites], staffing with ideologues… undermines out competitiveness and position on the forefront of science, leader in scientific discovery.
“We have the power to fight back – shine spotlight – call attention to misrepresentation, to speak out when censorship. March, speak out, act where can have impact such as on the local level. Vote.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the district that New York University is in, noted “People think NY is deep blue state, that everyone smart, watches Rachel Maddow, reads NY times, understands a fact is not opinion. But things are different in Albany when comes to science. We need more evidence-based policy making.
“We know vaccinations save lives,” he said, drawing a cheer. Vaccination is one of greatest turning points in health. But when I introduced a bill to make vaccinations mandatory for elementary school children, you would have thought I called for destruction of society. The Anti-Vacs movement, even though the link between vaccines and autism has been disproved over and over again…
“Gay conversion therapy,” he continued, drawing boos.”There are mental health providers licensed by New York State who are trying to convert people from being gay. New York needs to yank their licenses.” People who are exposed to such conversion therapy, he said, “affects who they are as a person, sends a message to others, and perpetuates myth.”
Another issue is climate change, “one of the most important issues of our time. When Trump was inaugurated, the White House page on climate change was removed. [In reaction], in Albany, we tried to pass a resolution about the danger of climate change but Republicans wouldn’t allow a vote, saying there was ‘disagreement on the validity. Science doesn’t back that up.
“We need to take this energy today and elevate public discourse, based on facts from people who know what talking about – scientists, researchers, academics, experts. Everything else is bluster…We will embrace our intellectual, academic, research to bring to bear the best policies for New York.”
“Where live shouldn’t Increase risk to pollution, toxins, pesticides,” stated
Beverly Watkins, a community-based research scientist and health care provider who does “Big Picture Science” research into health disparities. “Health is a human right – growing up poor, your gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background should not have a higher rate of disease – diabetes, asthma, hypertension. Yet a difference in socioeconomic status perpetuates health disparities.”
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York, currently developing the
Anthropocene Disruption Project, raised the issue of global competitiveness.
“In a race with three centers- China, France and Canada are welcoming scientists, with the appeal, ‘America may not be a home for you.’
“America needs science. And Science needs globalization.” Take for example what happens when you destroy globalization and internationalism – Brexit. Already, Britain is experiencing an 11.8% decrease in technology investment because of its impending dissociation with the European Union.
But besides a reduction in investment, “Collaborative science is failing. There is diminished freedom to emigrate from the EU to UK.
“Democracy depends on science. Congress can’t protect us from Russian trolls, from surveillance by greedy companies. We need science to advise, create appropriate policies. If we don’t have strong science, Research & Development, our economy can’t survive.
“The good news after all the panic about [the Trump Administration’s determination to slash the science budget, it got its biggest increase, 12.2%. National Institutes of Health budget is up 8.3%; energy up 15%; NASA saw its allocation increased to $1.2 billion; the US Geological Survey’s budget was increased to $1.1 billion; EPA was allocated $8.1 billion. The American people get it.”
But Science is not just global, international and collaborative, she continued, “We need to get out of our silos to solve the biggest challenges we face – climate change, microbiological resistance, cybersecurity, robotics, water and food scarcity, safety, acidification of the oceans. The world needs globalized, collectivized, interdisciplinary science.”
“Why we march? We march for evidence-based policy; for increased diversity, inclusion in the scientific community, for meaningful engagement between science and society, to build global community of advocates for science,” David Kantor, professor of environmental studies of NYU and the coordinator for New York’s March for Science.
Here are more images from the March for Science NYC:
Judging by the Women’s Marches – 280 of them around the country that drew 2 million activists on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom, health care, workers rights, DACA, climate, gun control – the Democrats were headed for a rout in 2018.
Now, pundits are questioning whether the government shutdown – and then the capitulation by Democrats – will jeopardize the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate and even the House.
And sure enough, the Republicans have proved yet again they are so much better at message manipulation – the signature talent of every autocracy.
It is a curious thing because the 2013 government shutdown, forced by Republicans who held Obamacare hostage and the many instances of Republicans coming to the brink of endangering the full faith and credit of the United States by threatening the debt ceiling, nonetheless won victories in the 2014 midterms, even taking over the Senate.
But it is different for Republicans who want to tear down government, and Democrats, who actually believe that government can be and should be a force for good.
But what did the Republicans actually win besides the message game? A few days reprieve? When instead the government shutdown over a failure to follow through on the deal to reauthorize DACA so clearly demonstrated the dysfunction, dishonesty, bad faith and sheer cruelty of Republican domination?
And is it wise for Trump to crow that Schumer “caved,” for Pence to go to the Middle East and lambast the Democrats as enemies of our soldiers, for the OMB Director Mike Mulvaney to mimic the phrase being hyped by Russian bots, #SchumerShutdown, and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to show glee that Schumer is “feeling the heat from the left, with #SchumerSellout trending on social media and Democrats who supported reopening the government are being branded as traitors”?
And how cynical is it for Trump to issue a reelection campaign ad blaming Democrats in advance if anyone is murdered by an illegal immigrant, yet taking no responsibility at all for 33,000 gun deaths a year (a woman is shot and killed by a current or former partner every 16 hours. 10 kids and teens are killed each month in unintentional shootings) and the ease with which terrorists can buy guns because of Republicans’ refusal to adopt reasonable gun control measures?
After all, this is yet another temporary spending measure, which Democrats and some Republicans have decried as no way to run a $4 trillion government since the military, municipalities and agencies can’t do long-range planning or contracts, and we will be right back here on Feb. 8. Fool me once….
Schumer and the Democrats really had no choice but to withhold the votes needed for cloture (the filibuster) which triggered the shutdown, and no choice in coming to this temporary arrangement to reopen government.
Let’s be reminded though: it’s not Democrats who caused the shutdown – five Republicans voted against the CR while five Democrats voted with the Republicans (by modern standards, that’s called “bipartisan”).
Indeed, Trump was rooting for a government shutdown. “The country needs a good shutdown” he said months ago, and referred to this shutdown as “a nice present” –because he believed Democrats would be blamed and weakened and (cherry on the cake) hoped it would get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to trigger the “nuclear option” and end the 60-vote threshold for cloture (the filibuster) so that Republicans could rule without any Democratic input whatsoever.
But for the entire first year of the Trump nightmare when Republicans were in full control of all the levers of government, they chose to rule as if a monarchy, shutting out Democrats entirely, and manipulating votes so that they only needed 50 instead of 60 – on several occasions, needing the Vice President’s vote to get to 51 to pass legislation opposed by large majorities of Americans. The only mechanism for Democrats to have any say whatsoever, and get CHIP and DACA reauthorized was to withhold their votes on the short-term spending bill.
For decades, now (when Democrats are in the White House), “populists” have been decrying the dysfunction in Washington, looking to demagogic characters from outside Washington (they are only “outside” until they are “inside”) to break the logjam and get things done. That’s what many Trump voters said they liked about Trump. They fell for his con: he isn’t disruptive, he’s destructively dysfunctional.
But look to the source of the dysfunction: it goes back to Newt Gingrich and the “Contract for America” ( “Contract on America” is more apt) – 1994 was the first time the Republicans used a shutdown as extortion. And it goes back to the Hastert Rule, named for the pedophile who was the longest-serving Speaker of the House, that bars the Republicans from passing any legislation that is not supported by the majority of Republicans, rather than the majority of the House or the American people, a tough thing to do with the Tea Party fringe and now the Trumpers.
It is because of the Hastert Rule that we do not have affordable health care, sensible gun violence prevention, immigration reform, campaign finance reform, environmental protection – all supported by huge majorities of Americans – and a tax code and federal budget that help uplift people rather than steer this country to unsustainable income inequality that is so dangerous for a democracy.
Add to that the end of earmarks – championed by none other than Senator John McCain who felt they were the source of corruption in Congress – and you have no bargaining chips whatsoever to forge a compromise. (Trump wants to bring back earmarks, so he can turn a $1 trillion infrastructure plan into a political slush fund.)
But Democrats – or rather the extreme left wing championed by Bernie Sanders – seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot, and instead of cheering Schumer for getting 12 Republican Senators to pledge to take up legislation to protect DACA recipients before Feb. 8, they blasted him for capitulating.
Really, what was Schumer supposed to do? Republicans were weaponizing the government shutdown, rather than being embarrassed that Trump, The Greatest Dealmaker in the History of the World, was shown to be an emperor with no clothes (he fidgeted while the capital burned) with no actual grasp of policy or long-term impacts so that he could be swayed and steered by the most virulent, anti-immigrant advisers (Steven Miller and John Kelly), and the Republicans being shown as being incapable of governing on behalf of the people instead of just their donors (the 1%).
Now it is likely that no matter how the Senate is reminded they are supposed to be an institution based on compromise and rational deliberation – and that Congress should realize it doesn’t have to wait for Trump at all, but pass reasonable legislation on its own – my prediction is that Speaker Paul Ryan in the House will kill any DACA legislation or any immigration legislation as he did in 2013, tabling Comprehensive Immigration Reform that passed the Senate by a significant majority.
Or that Steve King, Tom Cotton, Steve Miller and John Kelly will come up with something so draconian – legalizing the Gestapo-like roundup and deportations of 11 million undocumented immigrants, throwing out green card holders, shutting borders to refugees and severely curtailing legal immigration for anyone but white people with money to invest in Trump properties – that Democrats won’t be able to vote for it. Ha ha, the irony.
But my money is on the Women’s Movement – no longer a march, but ongoing activism that will result in a major voter registration drive, record number of women running for elected office (390 for House, 49 for Senate, as many as 16,000 for state and local offices), and to get out the vote in the 2018 midterms. #PowertothePolls.
Some 200,000 took over the streets of New York City for the Womens March, exactly one year after Donald Trump gave his dystopic inauguration speech and one year after the first Womens March that brought out millions in the largest single day of protest in history.
The Government shutdown kept Kristin Gillibrand away. It also overshadowed news coverage.
No matter. The women had already learned that the change we need, the rights we want, are up to us. It was important to be together, to see comrades in arms, to be amid a sea of people – 200,000 was the official count in New York City – who despite the fact there were 280 other womens marches taking place across the country including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago with about 2 million turning out – still came from all over the country, all ages and walks of life.
They marched for the Womens Agenda, which includes a score of vital issues: an end to sexual harassment, assault and extortion is one; reproductive rights and the right to self-determination as well as Equal Protection is another (somehow always get overshadowed and put on a back-burner of priorities). But the list encompasses access to affordable health care, gun violence prevention, environmental protection, protection for Dreamers and rational, humane immigration reform that keeps families together and ends the torture of insecurity. They marched for justice and fairness: political, social, economic, environmental and criminal justice.
There was definitely a change in attitude from last year, when people marched to show their despair over the selection by the Electoral College of Donald Trump as president, despite Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be a serious contender for President, winning 3 million more popular votes, and they marched to put the Republican majority in Congress on notice which they didn’t heed. This year, the Womens March was ramped up on anger and a new jeer, courtesy of Trump himself: “Shithole” is what marchers yelled as they passed Trump International on Columbus Circle, his incarnation; otherwise placid grey-haired suburban women giving the middle finger.
Anger and determination. It doesn’t matter whether or not the news media covered – in this case, the conundrum, “if a protest happens but no one reports it, did it happen?” doesn’t apply. The marchers aren’t asking permission, they are marching to register voters, launch th