Filipino-Americans in New York City Join Occupy Wall Street, March for Jobs and Justice
October 1, 2011
Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK, NY— Approximately 20 Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA joined yesterday’s massive march and rally from the Occupy Wall Street site in Manhattan’s financial district to the nearby headquarters of the New York Police Department (NYPD). They converged at the packed occupation site, now in its 3rd week, carrying bright yellow signs reading “Jobs and Justice! Food and Freedom!” and “End Imperialist Wars of Aggression! Dismantle the US Military-Industrial Complex!”
BAYAN USA joined forces with the local citywide anti-budget cuts network known as the Bail-Out the People Movement (BOPM), which helmed the march and rally in response to the mass arrests and police brutality against the otherwise peaceful and non-violent occupiers last Saturday. They were also joined by the People’s Justice Coalition for Community Control and Police Accountability, a grassroots network of low-income immigrant and people of color groups against police brutality. Instances of excessive violence and pepper-spraying from the NYPD caught on videotape has since sparked a massive outcry from the international community and drawn support for Occupy Wall Street from high-profile personalities such as filmmaker Michael Moore, actress Susan Sarandon, and academic Dr. Cornell West.
The messages carried by BAYAN USA, joined by the flags of GABRIELA USA and the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS), projected issues of US foreign policy in poor countries such as the Philippines, and sought to relate the occupiers’ initial message against corporate greed with the international context of neoliberalism and war, and the situation of forced migration to the US. It was also the first time since the beginning of the occupation that an organized contingent of mainly immigrants and people of color with clear anti-imperialist messages joined the protests.
“We are here as immigrants and children of immigrants,” stated BAYAN USA Chairperson Berna Ellorin, addressing a crowd thousands from a makeshift stage in front of the police headquarters at the end of the march. “We are in this country for the same reason you are occupying Wall Street– because our governments could not provide us with jobs. Imperialism destroyed our countries…What we are doing here today is not just for us, it is for every person in this world fighting imperialism.”
Due to the absence of a sound permit, the lack of a sound system did not deter the demonstrators from practicing a so-called “peoples mic”, a practice in which the crowd repeats what the speaker says. With such a sizable crowd yesterday, Ellorin had to wait as her words traveled some 4-5 times to reach everyone.
“We will continue to monitor and participate in this historic occupation,” stated BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator Yves Nibungco. “As the fastest growing immigrant community in the US from a home country controlled economically and politically by US interests, Filipinos in the US must also involve themselves in raising the level of class struggle in this country.”
As of the first quarter of 2011, the unemployment rate in the US jumped considerably to 10.2%. Following the momentum of the historic public employees labor strike in Wisconsin, which many compared to the so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions prior, social discontent in response to the lack of a viable jobs program and massive budget cuts in the country has risen. Occupy Wall Street has spurred similar actions in other US cities. The following day, BAYAN USA organizations participated in solidarity protests along the West Coast. ###