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Report on the November 14, 2012 Solidarity Rally Against Austerity

By Aristeri Kinisi NY (Greek American Left Movement)

poster for November 14, 2012, rallyOver a hundred demonstrators showed their solidarity with the historic general strike across Southern Europe on Wednesday night in Manhattan near the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands of workers, pensioners and young people were reported in the media to have taken to the streets in dozens of major cities across Europe to protest against austerity in Europe. The event in New York started at 2 pm with a press conference which was attended by mainstream and alternative European, and Greek American press.

In a surprise appearance, a short speech was made by Gregor Gysi, a left wing leader of Die Linke in the German parliament, who was in New York. A delegation headed by the event’s press liaison Nikos Levis, Costas Panayotakis and Frango Akrivos delivered the Press Release to the Greek Mission at the United Nations which demanded respect for democratic rights and an end to the government's tolerance for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

The press conference  was followed by a rally with chants of “The workers united will never be defeated,” “Money for Jobs and Education!” and “Hey Hey Ho Ho – austerity has got to go!) in which speaker after speaker expressed their solidarity with the workers, youth and pensioners that are affected by the cuts and austerity imposed by the Troika and the governments in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. At the event were present union members, Occupiers, representatives from various campaigns and groups, members of the Queens College Socialist Club as well as the Greek Club, and representatives from immigrant rights and labor organizing drives such as the Hot and Crusty and Laundry workers.

Speeches and greetings were presented to the meeting by Joanne Landy of the Campaign for Peace & Democracy, Arthur Cheliotes, leader of CWA Local 1180 who highlighted the need to fight against austerity, Wall Street and the 1% here in the US. Other speakers included Lenny Dick, from the executive board of Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY), Andrew Pollack from the Committee for the Defense of the Egyptian Revolution, Aaron Amaral from the International Socialist Organization, and Mike Filippou of the Bakery and Confectionary workers union who spoke about the Hostess workers’ strike across the country.

A stirring speech about the need to fight fascism and racism in Greece and everywhere was delivered by Eric Poulos from the National Lawyers Guild. Tom Crean, a United Federation of Teachers chapter leader in East New York, spoke for Occupy Kensington, as well as Sam Lazarus, a UFT chapter leader from Bryan High School in Queens. Eljeer Hawkings spoke for Queens Socialist Alternative and Iannis Delatolas from Aristeri Kinisi NY (Greek American Left Movement). Jesse Lessinger delivered a message of support from Paul Murphy, Member of European Parliament from the Socialist Party in Ireland and Committee for Workers' International (CWI). Brief messages and greetings to the event were also given by Ted Alexandro from Occupy Astoria/LIC, Steven Durham from the FSP, Despina Lalaki from SYRIZA /Aristeri Kinisi NY and Sean Sweeney, director of the Global Labor Institute. Alan Akrivos (Aristeri Kinisi NY) made closing remarks for the event. He stated that capitalism has failed the 99% and called for international workers' solidarity against austerity.

Some of the key themes that came out of the rally are the following: the need to organize and fightback against austerity and cuts here in the U.S.A., to build solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Sandy and to continue the struggle against fascism and racism. The organizations and individual leaders who endorsed and sponsored the event will continue to campaign for democratic rights, workers' rights, solidarity with the people of Greece, against budget cuts and austerity and build the left unity that is needed to challenge the dictatorship of Wall Street and big business.