May 1, 2013

Marching From Cornell University to Commons, Protesters Rally for Free Speech

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Cornell students, Ithaca College students and other members of the Ithaca community marched in a protest that went through Day Hall, the Commons and Dewitt Park Wednesday in honor of May Day — also known as International Workers Day.

The march, which began at Ho Plaza with a drum circle and two speeches, promoted free speech and political activism on campus, participants said.

According to Carmen Martínez ’14, one of the march’s organizers, participants protested for the right to hold political protests without permits and criticized a University Assembly resolution that requested placing additional surveillance systems on University property. The protesters also asked for an increase in wages for Ithaca waste workers.

The UUP resolution, which was tabled at the U.A. meeting Tuesday, clarified the requisite procedure students should follow when using University property for protests. It stated definitively that a permit is not required, though students would still be able to submit them.

When protesters gathered on Ho Plaza, Mario Martone grad, one of the protest’s organizers, chanted, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”

According to Martone, an important aspect of the protest was the solidarity and support protesters felt for one another, but he added that the rally was also meant to garner attention.

“We are here today to actually have a rally and be as loud as possible,” he said.

In the spirit of the protest, Martone referenced the student takeover of Willard Straight Hall in the April of 1969.

“If ever in the future the students reach a level of organization and courage which will resemble the level of courage and organizations of the [students] in 1969,” he said, then future generations of students fighting and protecting justice “will remember us.”

After protesters gathered on Ho Plaza, they then marched to Day Hall, where students gave speeches and dropped off a letter highlighting their demands regarding the UUP proposal and the increased use of surveillance cameras to President David Skorton.

Speaking about the U.A. resolution that promoted the increased use of surveillance systems, Martínez said many of the protestors disagreed with the U.A.’s approach.

“A lot of us are in agreement that security cameras are not the best way to increase security. It’s not going to really change the culture on campus, and we need to be targeting the culture — not so much increasing surveillance on students,” Martinez said.

After Day Hall, the protesters marched downtown to rally and demand an increase in wages at a hearing the waste-water treatment workers from the Ithaca community and the Tompkins County Workers Center.

“[At] the Commons, we will be doing an action in solidarity with waste workers in Ithaca who are asking for a living wage, which they are not currently receiving,” Martinez said.

Finally, the march concluded at Dewitt Park, where the participants had a potluck and spoke about the the significance of May Day for them.

Original Author: Gabriella Lee

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