The Occupy Wall Street movement headed north to Fordham Road on Saturday, officially enveloping the city’s poorest borough in its now global call to close the income gap in the United States.
Nearly 100 Bronx participants gathered near Fordham University, saying their borough’s residents represent the poorest Americans, and they have been silent for too long.
“I was born and raised in the South Bronx,” said Maribel Vasquez, Fulbright Scholar who wants to see change in her neighborhood. “It wasn’t until I left that I realized I was raised in the poorest congressional district of the United States.”
Vasquez believes that Bronxites need to be more vocal about poverty, lack of affordable housing and subpar educational options. Saturday’s participants included residents, members of local non-profits, students and professors from Fordham University.
And Occupy Wall Street organizers are happy to expand. “We hope to be in every borough by the end of the week,” said Erik Maldonado, who was born and raised in Kingsbridge and has been a part of the populist movement aimed at the financial district that is galvanizing anti-corporate protests in cities across the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America. “It is time for the Bronx to join this movement.”
With the highest unemployment rate in New York City and nearly 29 percent of residents living below the poverty level, organizers believers Bronx voices are a vital part of this movement.
Jonnie Rosado, 35 from Parkchester has four sons in school and is attempting to go back to school herself. But as she foots the bill for her son’s classroom supplies and pays for her own tuition, she doesn’t feel the government is supporting her family in getting an education.
“Here in the Bronx we are falling through the cracks,” said Rosado. “I have friends who work three jobs and still can’t make ends meet.”
Occupy Bronx protestors plan to meet every Saturday morning at 11a.m. in Fordham Plaza. Their game plan is to first participate in a general assembly meeting to discuss the Bronx’s unique position in the movement and then take the Fordham Road subway downtown to join the rest of the protesters on Wall Street.
On Saturday, police began to gather near the end of the rally on East Fordham Road and Webster Avenue.
Spectators watched the protestors walk by with mixed emotion. One older woman clapped her hands as they passed. “We support you,” she yelled. Others looked confused and took flyers that said, “Don’t let the one percent take another cent,” and posted Occupy Wall Street’s coming events. Sidewalk vendors appeared pleased at the prospect of new customers as they attempted to sell the protesters gold jewelry and apples and bananas from fruit stands.
“Join us, you are one of us,” yelled the group as they entered the subway station at Fordham Road and Jerome Avenue. Police held the emergency doors open, letting protesters ride for free.
We have had enough,” said Jason Emmanuel, 37. “The Bronx has been left behind and it is time for our voices to be heard.”