What does it take to organize across class lines? In the context of a nationwide revival of both labor struggles and student movements, students and workers at college campuses are increasingly having to find out. At Columbia University, students recently started to back a group of Faculty House workers who are fighting for a new contract. But what does solidarity mean at a university where students pay up to $60,000 a year, while campus workers can barely make ends meet? We hear from Osmond Cousin, who has been working as a chef at Columbia for the past 18 years, as well as Jane Brennan, an anthropology student who is one of the main organizers of the student-worker solidarity group. Cousin and Brennan share insights into how both groups have been building alliances in order to increase pressure on the university.
New Yorkers joined the global movement of “One Billion Rising” to gather and dance on Valentine’s Day in order to call attention to violence against women. “If a man knows a woman who is a victim or survivor then he knows what that is like because it will effect her for the rest of her life,” said Jerin Arifa, with the National Organization for Women, who danced in Union Square. “It will effect her productivity, the way she can love again, the way she can trust again. It will effect them also.” At another event in Times Square, dozens of people organized a “We Will Not Be Silent,” protest. “I feel like all revolutionary causes should start with addressing misogyny,” noted Ezra Miller, one of many men who participated in the campaign.
Interviews, camera and editing by Martyna Starosta. Production Assistance: Andre Lewis.
Twelve students have barricaded themselves inside a campus building of New York City’s Cooper Union demanding the school affirm its commitment to free education. Cooper Union recently approved graduate student tuition for the first time in its 110-year history, and students fear the undergraduate program may be next. The students received additional support from faculty members, while the administration has avoided direct communication with them. On Tuesday, Democracy Now!’s Martyna Starosta and Nemo Allen visited Cooper Union to interview student supporters, alumni, faculty and Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha, who walked away after being asked, “Will Cooper Union remain tuition free?”
The video was produced for Democracy Now! and re-posted by Salon and the Monthly Review.
Bye the way, Max Haiven, recently gave a brilliant lecture entitled “University as Factory” exploring today’s role of education within neoliberal capitalism on the radio program Against the Grain. Check it out here.
Hundreds of workers at dozens of restaurants owned by McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell and others went on strike Thursday and rallied in a bid for fair pay and union recognition. Organizers with the Fast Food Forward campaign are seeking an increased pay rate of $15 an hour, about double what the minimum-wage workers are making. Workers and their allies demanded a wage that would let them support their families.
Special thanks to Jamie Hall who assisted during the shooting.
A wave of historic protests struck the retail giant Wal-Mart on Black Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year. Workers and their supporters demonstrated at more than 1,000 stores. The Wal-Mart protests were organized in part by OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Nine people, including three Wal-Mart workers, were arrested at a protest in Los Angeles after they blocked traffic.
Sam Alcoff and I recorded the voices of protesters outside of a Secaucus, New Jersey
Amy Littlefield and I visited Coney Island to check in on the ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. Watch our Web Exclusive on Democracy Now!
It’s been more than two weeks since Superstorm Sandy hit New York City, yet thousands of people in the city’s public housing buildings are still in the cold. The city says it has restored some level of power to all housing projects, but as of Wednesday nearly 16,000 public tenants were without heat and hot water. Some remained without any reliable water — hot or cold. Also out of service were dozens of elevators impacted by the storm. One of the areas most affected has been Coney Island at the southern tip of Brooklyn, where the storm poured saltwater into basements, devastating equipment. Despite going weeks without power in some cases, the city’s public tenants are still being asked to pay their rent on time before getting a credit in January. New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea drew criticism earlier this week when he called the upcoming rent credit “a nice little Christmas present.” On Wednesday, Democracy Now!’s Amy Littlefield and Martyna Starosta headed to Coney Island and filed this report. Hany Massoud edited the video.
My colleague Amy Littlefield and I headed down to Chinatown to interview volunteers who provide support for their community. Check out our video report here.
Another area of New York City hit hard by Superstorm Sandy is Chinatown in the southeastern section of Manhattan, where many businesses remain shuttered and residents are still without power, some of them stranded on high floors of apartment buildings. The group CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities has been leading a relief effort, with volunteers distributing supplies and canvassing buildings. Hundreds of people lined up Thursday to receive sandwiches, rice, water, batteries and other forms of assistance. We get a report from Democracy Now!’s Amy Littlefield and Martyna Starosta, who interview residents, and we speak with Helena Wong, executive director of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, about the storm’s impact as well as issues of gentrification in Chinatown.
Report from NYC’s Lower East side with Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz and Democracy Now! fellow Martyna Starosta. Hany Massoud edited the video. Link to our report is here.
We speak with residents of the low-income and largely minority community of Manhattan’s Lower East Side who live in the shadow of a Consolidated Edison substation that flooded during Superstorm Sandy and has left thousands in the dark. With no sign of help from the city or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, residents talk to Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz about the storm’s impact on their lives. Many are struggling to carry water up darkened stairwells in buckets filled up at fire hydrants, while others are assisting bedridden elderly parents who live in the Jacob Riis public housing units. Everyone is asking when their power will be restored.
Stories of police brutality are often told in a way that casts victims as helpless bystanders of cops run amok. We met with Sean Pagan, a recent victim of police violence, and found that his story changes how we think about policing in New York. Sean’s story shows that communities are finding new and innovative tactics for dealing with discriminatory policing, beyond waiting for legislative reform. One such tactic is copwatch, where individuals or teams film officers making arrests. But what’s the history of the tactic? What are the risks, limitations and impact of filming the police? And how do these videos change the way we understand narratives of police violence?
This Project was made by Some Feminists in Your Neighborhood:
Some Feminists in Your Neighborhood is a group of women joined together through the mutual experience of patriarchy in supposedly radical political collectives and contexts. Together we have overcome our complicity in the abusive structures in which we were participants, found the solidarity that enabled us to object, and developed the means necessary to destroy those structures—through the castration performed by our withdrawal. We are now working on re-composition as we experiment with ways to struggle with one another that do not reproduce the patriarchy from which we separated. Our contribution to FUSE documents phases of the political process as they have appeared to us. Our names are Colleen Asper, Maria Byck, Marika Kandelaki, Sunita Prasad and Martyna Starosta.
FUSEis a Toronto-based arts and culture quarterly that publishes at the intersection of contemporary art and social justice. The current theme is ABOLITION. The print edition of FUSE 35-3/ABOLITION contains 2 images from this collective project.