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Thousands Join NYCLU Rally for Rights and Equality at Women’s March on NYC

First Lady and Mayor

Thousands of New Yorkers attended a rally held by the New York Civil Liberties Union today to demand policies that protect the rights of all New Yorkers. Participants commemorated one year of resistance to Trump administration attacks on the rights of women, immigrants, Muslims, and other vulnerable communities on the anniversary of the inauguration.

The rally kicked off with an appearance from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who called for New York to lead in protecting women’s rights. New York City Mayor introduced NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray. Speakers included City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Planned Parenthood NYC CEO Laura McQuade, Elizabeth Estrada of the National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller, Sarah Ravalo of the New Sanctuary Coalition, youth artist and activist Sasha Matthews and members of the NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project.

“Today we send a strong message to the Trump regime that the Resistance stands strong and united and that we will persist,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “As we fight for the dignity, autonomy, health and well-being of women, we stand for all people. And as the Trump regime celebrates its one-year anniversary by shutting down the government, we stand up especially for immigrants who make this country great — for Ravi Ragbir, for the Dreamers, for our children. Today we march, tomorrow we vote!”

Presenters at the rally issued a call to action to all New Yorkers to defend a range of rights under assault from Washington, including voting rights, reproductive rights, immigrant rights and gender equality. NYCLU handouts called for a clean DREAM Act, early voting and same-day registration, and comprehensive sex education in schools and speakers urged New Yorkers to organize, mobilize and vote.

“New York City is the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement and we’re proud to continue to lead the way,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Co-Chair of the NYC Commission on Gender Equity . “Today, we stand in solidarity with women across the country. We are not daunted by the ongoing attacks on our rights – the rights of women, immigrants, communities of color and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming individuals. There is so much at stake for our nation – affordable health care, reproductive rights, pay equity, domestic violence – the list goes on. While there may be many messages, we are all speaking with one voice. And it’s time for our leaders in Washington, D.C. to hear us.”

The fact that the march took place just two days before the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was not lost on the speakers, who called for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act to codify reproductive rights in the face of an onslaught from Washington.

“The 2017 Women’s March unleashed a collective energy for change that continues to this day,” said Laura McQuade, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City. “President Trump and Congress have spent the last year pushing policies to take away our hard won rights, roll back our ability to make decisions about our own lives, and block access to the fundamental health care we need and deserve. And we’ve responded with the largest grassroots movement in a generation. New York must be a leader in this fight. PPNYC urges New York lawmakers to finally make the state’s abortion law one that will protect access to safe and legal abortion for New Yorkers despite what happens in Washington, to protect and expand access to birth control – and all health care. We have the momentum behind us and we won’t stop fighting until ALL New Yorkers have the ability to live the fullest lives they can.”

“With each new attack against women, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and low income people, our communities have banded together to push back,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “We’ve protested, knocked on doors, and showed up to vote. The change we want to see is national, but it starts at home, right here in New York. Today we commit ourselves to protecting access to contraception through passing the CCCA and to changing our state law so that no one has to fear jail time for providing or having an abortion. We’re kicking off 2018 in community, in protest, and in a shared vision for a bolder future for New York and for the nation.”

Elected officials from city and state government attended the march, delivering rousing remarks, including the following:

Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “When New York acts, the nation notices. We’re going to pass the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act in New York. We’re going to pass Roe v. Wade.”

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “When the government fails, you do it yourselves, sisters and brothers.”
  • Public advocate Tish James said: “This is just the beginning. Women will save this democracy and we will march on.”
  • City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said: “Women will lead the charge. Let’s march, let’s organize, let’s take our country back.”
  • State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said: “This is our day to come back and march for every single thing they are trying to take away – protections for women, for our health, or reproductive rights. The power is in our hands, we have to vote”
  • Speakers at the march also took note of the alarm of the immigrant community in the first year under the Trump administration. Federal immigration officials detained New Sanctuary Coalition director Ravi Ragbir earlier this month in New York City. At the march, Sarah Ravalo of the New Sanctuary Coalition noted, “Two of our leaders were taken by ICE this week, targeted for their immigrant rights activism. But no matter the amount of oppression and intimidation, we will not be deterred from the work we need to do. We are fighting against deportations, against the tearing apart of families.”

    Performers at the rally included singers Joe Chappel and Adrienne Danrich, who delivered the black American national anthem “Lift Every Voice,” as well as spoken word artists with Girl Be Heard, and Denee Benton. Following the rally, marchers set off down 72nd street to join the tens of thousands of marchers participating in the Women’s March.

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