Protesters Block Stairs, Halls In NY Capitol

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — More than 100 protesters chanting opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut program funding for the poor while giving tax breaks to the rich blocked central stairs and hallways in the Capitol for an hour Wednesday afternoon.

State police said they arrested 17 people who would be charged with disorderly conduct, arraigned before a judge and released later Wednesday. Handfuls of demonstrators held long banners across the stairways and escalator leading to Empire State Plaza and to three Capitol corridors.

That forced state workers and visitors to struggle past or step over, sometimes with troopers’ help, or seek another route.

Dozens of other protesters streamed around the Capitol lobby carrying signs calling for jobs, housing and higher taxes on the rich. One carried an American flag. They chanted, changing phrases every few minutes.

“Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like.”

“Hey you millionaire; pay your fair share.”

“You say Cuomo; we say hell no.”

Protest organizer Wanda Hernandez, a board member from the activist group VOCAL New York, said the group opposes cutting social programs and closing hospitals and schools while letting an income tax surcharge on the wealthiest New Yorkers expire after this year.

Gloria Wilson, a demonstrator from Community Voices Heard, said protesters want Cuomo to stand strong and resist special interests.

In Albany, grassroots protest is big business.

The groups flood Albany on legislative session days, boxed lunches in hand, after fully alerting the media. They can operate on tax-deductible donations, government or pork-barrel grants, some gifts from like-minded unions and charitable or political action groups.

On Wednesday, the effort came in three chartered buses, with those who face the real cuts in services and aid led by full-time staffers who know how to play to the TV cameras to maximize the impact of a couple dozen or 100 protesters and steering reporters to heart-wrenching personal profiles for which they prep their clients.

Wednesday’s organizers, for example, alerted all reporters of the planned arrests, giving a 15-minute time frame for the spontaneous events.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto declined to comment on the protest.

“Today we are taking over the Capitol,” Hernandez told the cheering crowd. She said if they couldn’t succeed Wednesday they would return.

Jennifer Flynn, an AIDS activist from Brooklyn, held one end of the banner blocking the stairs. She kept talking even as a trooper took her out in handcuffs. “It’s unfair for Gov. Cuomo to target the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” she said.

Organizer Sean Barry said a half-dozen community groups were involved. He said they and others will be back.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Carmen

    The majority of New Yorkers are low to moderate income families who work and pay taxes. The Millionaire’s tax generates billions of dollars for New York and it can help lessen the blow of major cuts that will affect the most vulnerable citizens of this state, our children and the elderly. In all reality is unfair to remove important services to all New Yorkers and in the same token stop a tax that supplements those same services to benefit the most wealthy who don’t have to suffer the unfortunate woes of the poor and middle class families. There must be a balance which includes reasonable budget cuts and taxes. MILLIONAIRES MUST PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE!!!! NO MORE TAX BREAKS!!! The majority of New Yorkers that made this city what it is ARE NOT RICH!!! AND WE’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!!!! I also work very hard and support my family by myself, we must continue to fight these inequalities and whoever wrote this piece needs to realize that grassroots organizing comes from the people. If it were “big business” then BIG CORRUPT GOVERNMENT might pay attention to the real majority.

  • jaypee

    Gov. Cuomo will not tolerate a Wisconsin fiasco. I support Cuomo’s actions.

  • Jeff

    What people don’t realize when they call for more taxes on the rich is that some rich move out of state. We end up with the same, or sometimes less revenue from the fewer ones remeaining here. And we wind up with less jobs because of the businesses that close. Not that people like these protesters care. Most just want a handout. They don’t care who pays for it.

  • fern

    You’re so right!

  • fern

    I agree with voiceofreason!

  • Dale

    We have had several generation of give away’s to those who prefer not to pay for their children or get job. Most of those complaining were born with freebies.It’s time for it to stop.The government is broke,which means we all have to bite the bullet and cut back on things. if you want socialism move to Venezuela or Cuba.

    • Carmen

      What’s the real problem? Is it that you didn’t qualify for some form of assistance. Maybe its because the services that your calling “give away’s” are meant for those that actually need it the most. Put yourself in the shoes of a person working 2 jobs and who still can’t afford to pay their bills. Maybe you won’t ever understand. Social Services aren’t hand outs they’re help outs. You must not realize that corporations have a lot of giveaways in the form of major TAX BREAKS AND HUGE GRANTS (FREE GOV’T MONEY). Don’t forget that the working middle class and low income families did not ruin the economy. It was greed from big banks and Wall Street. Our broke government BAILED them out!!!!

  • voiceofreason

    The top 1% of the income bracket holds 34% our country’s wealth, the next 19% own another 50% of the wealth……guess what the rest of us own??? do the math people…….The government owes its people money and a LOT of it. Rich people/government have been getting their freebies for many many many years. Now it’s our turn!!! These aren’t hand out programs, they are reparation programs for our rigged system. And for the record i work 2 jobs.

    • Jduzit Tha Artist

      U cudn’t have said this better! But people….it’s going to take ALL of us to stand up and turn this evil cycle around! Like these protesters….we have to step out with no fear!

    • Carmen


      • Carmen

        FOR VOICE OF REASON!!!!!

    • Shlongo

      I agree with voice!

  • john carter

    The time of the unions influencing political outcomes with members dues: is coming to an end. The internal powers showing favoritism within the administrative offices of each department is coming to an end. The turning of heads when abuse of members by members is brought to the surface…is coming to an end. The use of members fee for campaigns in tropical paradises…is coming to an end. The special privileges given to senior employees…is coming to an end. Etc, etc, and etc.

  • Homie

    If these people wanna fund these programs themselves, they should do it. It’s about time the government gets out of the freebies business and starts teaching some of these people about personal responsibility.

    • Derek

      You, Homie, miss the point. The people most upset about the cuts are likely to be the ones AFFECTED by them. They are the ones who can’t afford to fund the programs. They are the ones working two jobs and still not making their bills while their bosses get the tax cuts. The point of Democracy is to give a voice to those who aren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Part of that voice means programs that help poor people survive. The greater the wealth disparity in this country, the less we are a Democracy, and the more we are an Aristocracy (what the founding fathers were fighting against).

      • Janet

        Yes! I agree with Derek.

  • A. Normal Day

    A white cop arresting a black.

    • Charles Ryan

      As the “male black” in the picture I am proud of it. The governor is operating a covert lobby backed by big business that are out for the lives of poor Black, Brown and White Nyer’s

  • David Goldstein

    The pictures shows a MaleBlack being arrested by the police.

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