WASHINGTON -- April 28 -- The Troops Out Now Coalition and the Million Worker March have won a significant victory in obtaining permits for the march and rally for May Day, Sunday, May 1st.
Last week, the NYPD told organizers that they could not march on May Day. In a meeting with march organizers, NYPD Asst. Chief Bruce Smolka said that the city would not allow a march "anywhere, on any route, to any destination." This refusal to grant a permit is part of a pattern of obstruction, denial, and violations of civil liberties on the part of the Bloomberg Administration in an attempt to marginalize dissent and silence the voices of working people who oppose the Bush-Bloomberg policies of endless war and corporate greed.
"Working people have an absolute right to rally and march on May Day. The organizers of the May Day march felt that it was an obligation to roll back this assault on our most basic rights, and with the help of thousands of supporters, we have won a significant victory," said Larry Holmes of the Troops Out Now Coalition.
Thousands of people have called, emailed, and faxed the Bloomberg Administration, demanding that the mayor not stand in the way of working people on May Day. Dozens turned out for an emergency demonstration at City Hall last week and again this Wednesday, when they were joined by New York City Council members Charles Barron, Margarita Lopez, and Bill Perkins, who called on the Mayor to grant a permit.
Attorney Gideon Oliver, of Oliver & Oliver was prepared to file suit in Federal Court today over the City's assault on civil liberties. Oliver, who was part of the legal team that forced the City to settle contempt proceedings brought as a result of the illegal detentions of protesters during last summer's RNC, had prepared a solid case and organizers were confident of a courtroom victory.
At the press conference on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, Gideon Oliver said, "The City does not seem to understand that free speech and freedom of assembly are rights, not priveleges. The Mayor does not have the right to use the permitting process to foribid events he doesn't agre with."
Facing a formidable legal challenge and determined public opposition, the City agreed today to issue a permit. Moments before the suit was to be filed, the NYPD arranged a last-minute meeting and agreed to the route outlined by march organizers, with the exception of 5th Avenue. The Coalition is continuing its legal challenge to the City's ban on marches on 5th Avenue.
Sara Flounders, of the Troops Out Now Coalition, said, "It wasn't just the threat of a formidable legal challenge that forced the City to back down. The legal action represents our determination to fight for the right to march on every level. It takes mobilizing in the streets, by email, at the picket line, as well as in the courts."
Charles Jenkins of the Million Worker March Movement, said, "Challenging the system has opened up gaining a legal permit. The right to march was always there, and we were prepared to demonstrate that right, with or without a permit. By taking a stand, we confirmed that right."