|Demonstration at Dupont Circle, Washington, DC, Saturday February 26, 2011|
NOTES FROM DC RALLY TO SUPPORT WISCONSIN
By Arlene Montemarano
Saturday noon, about 300 people began to gather in Dupont Circle, many carrying signs and all looking very determined. Before it was over, the crowd seems to have doubled. These people understood what the dangers are in staying home when our right to organize is systematically being taken from us. They understood that the time is now to resist in the only way that resistance has ever worked. By coming together.
Following are some of the things that were said during this rally: A young man from Egypt spoke of his parents, both teachers, who have no health care and no ability to bargain for better working conditions in Egypt's dictatorship. They are living in fear and he wants us to know that is what awaits us if we let it happen. This is the fight of our lives. A woman spoke of the wars and the new policy that states we can attack any country though they never attacked us. With children and mothers everywhere dying. They did not deserve these attacks, and the cost of them is making us poorer and more and more in debt.
Wall Street collapses and they blame the teachers. During these terrible economic times, with so much suffering, they have chosen to ignore us and cut taxes for the obscenely rich for a second time. What to do when the robber barons we need protection from... are our leaders. The teachers in Wisconsin are protesting by taking their own sick days and the resulting cut in pay. The fire fighters, who are exempted from Walker's law, have joined them and all the other demonstrators because they know we must stand strong and united. Wisconsin working people have said that if the bill passes, they will have a general strike. We are not going to continue to take it on the chin as we have for the last 30 years. Wisconsin is the state that was first to have unemployment insurance, workman's comp, and collective bargaining for public employees. Saw signs saying "We Are Wisconsin" 2/3 of our people are employed by business, and 1/3 by government. Do giant corporations invest in America? Do they even pay their own share? Do they export jobs and import oil? We should be entering the middle class, not falling out. We should be giving charity, not getting it. We have the right to demand that our government work for us. A man got up and told of what it meant to grow up in a union family. Father held two or three jobs, worked hard and educated all his children on union wages. They lived the good life, felt pride of accomplishment, and had hope for the future. We are the people. We get to decide! This country has always been the strongest when our unions are the strongest. The rich businessmen are just trying to take everything they want, because they do not respect us. In the past, when people stood together for their rights, nothing could stop them. We are fighting for the decent standard of living that comes from union jobs all across America. There was a march from Dupont Circle to the White House and then the crowd dispersed, for now, at about 1:30.