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 Teitelbaum.
“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. Teitelbaum 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 courts today reaffirmed the notion that one person, no matter how powerful, is not above the ideals that have held our democracy through challenges great and small. It is in this same spirit that students, parents, teachers, and the community have joined together to demand true input in the manner in which 1.1 million children of New York City have access to our country’s greatest promise - to give equal access to education for ALL children,” 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.