Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mobilizing to Stop Privatization of Union Square

Paul Robeson Singing at Union Square

The Church of Stop Shopping has been holding rallies at Union Square to draw attention to the proposed privatization of the North End of the park, which includes a historic pavilion where thousands have gathered over the years to defend the eight hour work day, to protest police brutality, to protest war in Iraq and many other noble causes.

The following is an excerpt from Reverend Billy's Sermon:
The Pavilion on the north plaza of this park is our Temple of Free Speech, a stage where our American conscience came out in the songs of Paul Robeson, Emma Goldman’s shouts and the prayers of Dorothy Day… Passionate crowds surged before that reviewing stand in the tens of thousands. The first Labor Day took place here in 1882. The 8-hour day was born in The Pavilion of Union Square.The ghosts of George Washington and Paul Robeson haunt the construction site at Union Square.
Corporations are privatizing the Pavilion, like so much of our commons in New York City and in the United States. The pattern is always the same. First they under-funded our park, pushed aside the public money for improvements, and then here come the millionaires posing as our saviors. In fact, they are dealing themselves a Tavern on the Green South, pushing around the greenmarket, cutting down old trees, and ending the day-care that was there – but wait a minute. The Pavilion? A gentrified watering hole?
It is our Temple of Free Speech. Our progressive history still lives here. The Americans seeking justice and Peace can still be heard marching and rallying. They are our heroes and teachers. Our children need to know of their courage. And we ourselves must now have the courage they showed then. We will defend Union Square with the part of ourselves that still has a conscience. Amen!Savitri D, as Emma Goldman, speaks at an action to save Union Square. The ghosts of past leaders who have spoken in that location line the construction fence: including, Dorothy Day, Norman Thomas, Lucy Parsons, etc.

To keep the area of Union Square a public park, sign this petition.

1 comment:

Rev. Billy Talen said...

A court decision has given our Pavilion its freedom. The judge said that a ritzy restaurant "is not park use." So the rich folks at the Union Square Partnership will appeal, but it will fall out of Bloomberg's term and we are optimistic. Celebrate with us on Feb 19, Tues, 12:30 - the Stop Shopping Choir will be there! ---Rev Billy