Members of Occupy Long Island boarded early-morning trains to join thousands of demonstrators that spilled into the streets of New York City for the May Day protests Tuesday.
“I think every union member, every teacher should come today…to let the 1 percent know they can’t function without the 99 percent,” said Judie, a teacher on Long Island, who decided to skip work for one day to protest unfair criticism of teachers and the disparity of wealth in America.
The 65-year-old and the rest of the Occupy Long Island faction joined a larger group of Occupy protesters from all over New York that came together with local union organizations to rally for May Day, which coincides with International Workers Day.
A mass group of demonstrators took over Bryant Park to peacefully protest, while hundreds of others spread out throughout Manhattan, focusing their attention on financial and government buildings.
Bryant Park was a sort of skeleton of Zuccotti Park, the movement’s initial home for two months before it was raided by police in November.
Inside Bryant Park, there were familiar chants of “We are the 99 percent” and signs bashing corporate greed in America.
One man slowly walked through Bryant Park with a life vest wrapped around his neck, as he held a sign that read: “We’re all in the same boat…and the boat is sinking.”
People stopped at a kitchen where they ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, browsed the “People’s Library” and held small meetings as they prepared to march about 30 blocks downtown to Union Square in the afternoon.
A member of Occupy Long Island, who didn’t want to give his name, said he thought May Day was an important day for the middle class, especially Long Island.
“People on Long Island have left the Island,” the Rocky Point man said. “[The] decline of the middle class has become more obvious.”
Charlotte Koons, of Occupy Huntington, decided to celebrate her 78th birthday with other Occupy Wall Street protesters, and to “bring the occupy Long Island spirit to Bryant Park.”
She wanted to bring attention to the cuts in education and foreclosures in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Judie, the teacher, wanted to send this message to her fellow Long Islanders: “most of them are the 99 percent they have to remember that when it comes time to vote.”