Brooklyn Assemblyman and Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez led a congregation of around 300 people Tuesday afternoon in a march from Brooklyn Borough Hall to Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, in a show of solidarity for Occupy Wall Street.
The group of feisty Brooklynites—represented by about a dozen unions and their members, a handful of elected officials and several residents—rallied on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall before beginning their march to rail about joblessness, Wall Street’s failure to pay its fair share and a host of other grievances.
Joining Lopez at Borough Hall were Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Eric Adams, City Council members Steve Levin and Jumaane Williams, and a number of union leaders, all of whom felt compelled to spell out their reasons for finally throwing their support behind the OWS, now in its sixth week.
Some in the public are calling the politicians, “Johnny-Come-Latelys,” accusing them of jumping aboard for reasons that are politically motivated.
“What’s our motivation for being here? Take your pick,” said Jeffries. “Income equality is worse now than it was prior to the Great Depression. The American Dream is under intense assault for working families and moderate-income folks.”
City Council Member Jumaane Williams was quick to point out that his support for OWS wasn’t newborn, maintaining that he was the first elected official to publicly get behind the spirit of Occupy Wall Street.
“I went down there myself to check it out first, and it seemed to me there was great energy there,” said Williams who, along with City Councilwoman Letitia James and Ydanis Rodriguez, were in fact among the first politicians to speak at the movement when it was only in its third week.
“There were a lot of young people saying the right things. No one was listening to the elected officials when we were speaking. But they are listening to these young voices. So anything I can do to keep the drum beating, I will do that,” Williams said.
Following the rally on the steps of Borough Hall, the protesters marched peacefully down Cadman Plaza West, escorted by police, and then headed over the Brooklyn Bridge to Zuccotti Park.
“It’s totally unfair that I get out of school, take out incredible loans and there’s absolutely slim opportunities available for me,” said one young protester, a law school graduate. “I don’t understand why it’s all at the top and it’s not trickling down to the bottom.”
Protester Phil Andrews was marching on behalf of the Retail Wholesale and Department Sale Union. “We’re currently fighting for a living wage. We think that the one percent just wants to make more profits at the expense of the rest of us.”
Another protester spoke out against businesses shipping American jobs overseas; and another said he just wanted people "to be able to put food on the table for their families and live a decent life.”
The lists of grievances went on and on. And on.
“All Day All Week, Occupy Wall Street,” chanted the protesters while waving a sea of blue and white posters that read "Brooklyn's Back!" Their cries could be heard from the highway along the bridge. And passing cars answered by honking in a show of solidarity.
“Maybe the revolution is starting,” said Councilmember Williams. “I hope.”