As Congress faced a looming deadline to avert the United States from defaulting on its debt and the federal government remained closed, fiesty Staten Islanders, joined by other New Yorkers, gathered on the steps of Staten Island Borough Hall on Tues. Oct. 15th to demand action from their Congressmember, Rep. Michael Grimm. The event featured some street theater with protestors dressed as characters from Louis Carroll’s classic children’s novel “Alice in Wonderland”, including Alice and some Mad Hatters.
The demonstration was part of a national day of action dubbed “Cease and Desist!”, spearheaded by USAction, the AFL-CIO, and their allies. Eight protests were held across New York State alone, in communities where the local Congressmembers voted to shut down the federal government in a futile attempt to force defunding of the Affordable Care Act. Two events were held in NYC, including one in the morning outside Rep. Grimm’s office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Since the mid-term elections of 2010, the “Tea Party Caucus”, a minority within the House majority, in conjunction with House leadership, has driven a radical “austerity agenda.” Their efforts have caused much pain and suffering to everyday New Yorkers, stymied economic recovery from the Great Recession, slashed domestic discretionary spending for programs that serve disadvantaged New Yorkers, and threatened our nation’s historic social contract and safety, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP (Food Stamps). Rep. Michael Grimm has often supported these efforts in his statements and votes. Meanwhile, the House Majority continues to ignore job creation and immigration reform, and protects job-killing corporate tax loopholes.
Groups involved in organizing the protest included Citizen Action of NYC, the Hunger Action Network of NYS, the Left Labor Project, Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign, MoveOn, No Bad Grand Bargain, Peace Action of Staten Island, and Staten Island for Change.