Saturday, January 16, 2010

Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Win Right to Rally on Bloomberg’s Block

This is all over the internet already (ICE, CAPE, NYC Parents) but I might as well put it up for those too lazy to hit the links. Ed Notes was in the [court] house today trying to take notes as the case proceeded but the brain works faster than the hand and Julie really is becoming an expert press release writer.

I was pretty fascinated by the case preceding ours where a minor Madoff character named Anderson was sentenced to 90 months. He looked sort of old and pathetic and suffers from all kinds of stuff. When his lawyer said he was 64 I got the willies since I'm just 6 weeks shy of turning 65 (gulp). But I do get my half fare card. And senior citizen access to every movie theater. And social security. And hardening of the arteries.

Well, this thing is building, with even some politicians coming (we won't tell the UFT which ones since they would call and try to dissuade them.)

Knock, knock, UFT. Are you home? Ignoring this protest because it's at your buddy Bloomberg's place? That old sham you've been pulling that somehow it's all Klein's fault and Bloomberg is the good guy is wearing a bit thin. Mismanagement my ass. These "mismanagers" have run rings around you. Look within for the true mismanagers.

All along, I thought we were organizing a protest at Bloomberg's place in Bermuda. Had my shorts all ready. Next time.

Oh, and at the meeting at Norman Siegel's office Thursday night, he told the teachers involved they have a lifetime guarantee of his support if the BloomKlein admin makes any attempt at retaliation. Not knowing I was retired, he turned to me and said, "you too." Almost makes me want to go back to work. Almost, I said.

For Immediate Release

January 15, 2010

Contact: Julie Cavanagh, 917-836-6465,

Norman Siegel: 347-907-0867

Herbert Teitelbaum: 518-441-9412

Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Win Right to Rally on Bloomberg’s Block

Victory for the first amendment and for those struggling to protect public schools from closures and charter school invasions!

Today, Judge Alvin Hellerstein delivered a ruling granting parent, student, and teacher protesters, who are members of The Emergency Coalition to Stop School Closures, the right to protest on Mayor Bloomberg’s block in New York City. Judge Hellerstein ruled that we live in a democracy, and to the greatest extent possible, we have to find ways to protect our citizens, while not compromising the constitutional rights of others, to demonstrate and express their views. He went on to say that in assessing those values, he found that First Amendment rights support the kind of orderly and peaceful protest the plaintiffs sought to organize. Judge Hellerstein also added that the plaintiffs have the right to a peaceful picket to express their views in relation to important educational policies, particularly the increase in charter schools in the city. Attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Tietelbaum successfully argued the case.

“We are very pleased with the Judge’s decision. It is a major win for the right of New Yorkers to peacefully protest including on East 79th Street where the Mayor resides,” attorney Norman Siegel.

“This is a victory not only for the plaintiffs, but for all who want to express their views to elected representatives,” attorney Herbert Tietelbaum.

“I am proud our efforts were successful and that we can take a stand in front of the city and the mayor to prevent the closing and phasing out of our school. Most of all I am happy we can voice our opinion on the city pushing out students in need in order to make room for charter schools and small schools that are very selective,” Khalilah , student, Maxwell High School.

“I am humbled that a homemaker from Red Hook, Brooklyn can take a stand against City Hall and win. The struggle to save our schools and public education is just beginning. Please join us on January 21st on the Mayor’s block to send a message that says no, to the expansion of charter schools in schools like my children’s, P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We also say no, to the ill defined school closings that pave the way for more charter schools and continue the dismantling of public education,” Lydia Bellahcene, parent, P.S. 15.

“Today is historic for protesting in the City of New York. I am so proud to stand with the parents and students I serve as we fight not only for our right to organize, but as we advocate to protect and preserve public education in our great city. It is not lost on me as an educator that this decision was made on Martin Luther King’s birthday. His legacy of peaceful and loving activism captures the culture of our school, P.S. 15. It is in this spirit that we bring our voices and concerns to the Mayor’s block in the hopes that there, we will be heard,” Julie Cavanagh, teacher, P.S. 15, “We want to thank, with much admiration and respect, Mr. Siegel, Mr. Tittelbaum and their staff, for their tremendous hard work and their dedication to protecting not only our rights, but the rights of all New Yorkers. I also want to thank the amazing parents and students I am so proud to stand behind and support.”

“The decision reaffirms the rights of citizens to protest on a city sidewalk, and prevents the mayor from turning a public city street into his own private front yard. Furthermore, it will allow parents, students, teachers, and members of the 22 communities affected by school closures to have their voices of discontent heard by the Mayor,” Seung Ok, Teacher, Maxwell High School.

“The right to demonstrate is not a given, it must be fought for, and we must be vigilant,” Gustavo Medina, retired teacher, Jamaica High School.

Parents, students, and teachers will hold their peaceful protest on both the North and South side of Mayor Bloomberg's block; East 79st, between 5th and Madison Avenue on Thursday, January 21st, between 4-6:30 pm. Protesters will meet at 5th avenue, on the southwest park side of the block, which will be the staging area and starting point of the protest. In the event of an appeal from The City of New York, the protest will continue on January 21st, in compliance with the NYPD.

Media Contacts:

Lydia Bellahcene:, 347-463-9809, PTA PS 15- 718-330-9280

Julie Cavanagh:, 917-836-6465

Seung Ok:, 646-244-4468

Norman Siegel: 347-907-0867

Herbert Teitelbaum: 518-441-9412

Khalilah Dickerson- 347-264-4527/

Richard McDonald- 347-445-3927/


Under Assault said...

I'm going to the rally, and I will chant and carry posters and freeze to death on cue.

But that does NOT stop me from being wary of what could happen to the rest of us protesters (not the teacher organizers) who might get arrested on site. That's because our union told us in no uncertain terms that teachers are not allowed to get themselves arrested for ANY reason — that the UFT would "FIND IT DIFFICULT TO DEFEND US." Teachers are held to a "different standard," said the union rep.

I raised my hand and asked specifically about getting arrested at PROTESTS. They said: at protests, too.

Putting that lovely thought together with the couple of hundred people detained by the city a few years ago at some major NYC protest (I can't remember which one that was now) — it's obvious we still have not only a collaborative union for the other side, but one that would AGAIN not be there when we need them.

ed notes online said...

Understand your concerns. But we have an injunction allowing us to march. We are recruiting 15 marshals to manage it. The police might look for an excuse. Thus we are trying to make sure that everyone behaves. There will also be a staging area across 5th ave where people can have more latitude. THis is not a free for all rally but a 2 abreast dignified protest as we march in a circular route on both sides of the street. The judge gave us more than we even expected. And Norman Siegel will be there with his crew. And we have lots of cameras that will police the police.

Anonymous said...

We are professionals and we know our rights. That being said, the protestors must follow the letter of the law while protesting. I will be there, too, and I feel confident that our colleagues will abide by those guidelines and march in a dignified circle to send the mayor4life a message that he cannot have it both ways - spend $108M on his re-re-election to buy the people's votes and to buy the streets of NYC. This protest, which the judge deemed as an action within our rights, will send the clearest, strongest, and pivotal message to mayor4life - the public schools are for every child in NYC.

Although the Mayor has control over the public school system, he does not have control over the public streets of NYC. Money cannot buy everything; however, the mayor4life should have spent money on developing his people-skills and to have true empathy for all in the public school system. Now that would have been money will spent!

See you at the protest!

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew where are you? You should be the first one leading this march.

The Perimeter Primate said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Norm and all! I'll be thinking of you and can't wait to watch the videos!

In solidarity,

Under Assault said...

Ednotes: Returning to your comment on who are the "mismanagers".

See this video advertising the union-sponsored Jan. 25th rally at the Bronx Court House was sent around this past week.

It is bizarre that Mulgrew continues to back off his December DA strategy of labeling Klein/DoE "mismanagement."

One of the questions posed in the new video is: "Is it mismanagement of the schools by the DoE?"

Ergo: A month ago Mulgrew builds an entire strategy against the DoE calling them "Mismanagement Central" (also the front page of the NY Teacher that month) and now backs off and turns it into a question!

That strategy was and continues to be ridiculous, as Klein is purposely creating this chaos to sell out to privatization and bust unions. Naomi Klein called it "shock doctrine" and as PuzzlePalace reminds us: Diane Ravitch calls it "creative destruction."

One teacher says of this dysfunctional union:
"What the heck are we paying our dues for?  I swear they're acting like substitute teachers left without lesson plans.  They keep having to wing it."