Cuomo threats to defund groups endorsing Nixon
New York, NY — Community organizations, and many elected officials held an emergency rally in Foley Square on April 19, 2018, to defend themselves following Governor Cuomo’s widely reported threats defund to grassroots community organizations led by working-class and immigrant New Yorkers of color. In a strong, unified voice, the organizations made it clear that community organizing in New York is here to stay and must be respected by all elected officials and political leaders.

The event follows on the heels of Cuomo telling union representatives last week that they must either defund CANY, MRA, and NYCC, or else they should “lose my number,”—all because the organizations endorsed Cuomo’s opponent Cynthia Nixon.

Cuomo also reportedly pulled the organizations’ 990 tax forms, clearly illustrating his intention to attack them. Despite Cuomo’s threats, these three organizations held fast to their principles, and they, along with CVHP will continue to work together to fight for stronger rent laws, stand up to real estate and hedge fund billionaires, push for passage of the Dream Act and driver’s licenses for all, and equitable funding of the state’s public school system.

At the rally, they were joined by several elected officials, including: State Senator James Sanders and City Council Members Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, and Jimmy Van Bramer.

Participants in the event discussed the important role that community organizations play in defending immigrants against deportation; fighting against the displacement and harassment of tenants; protecting low-wage workers against wage theft and mistreatment; and fighting for access to health care and high-quality public education for all.

Members and leaders of the following community organizations spoke at the rally today: Citizen Action of New York (CANY), Community Voices Heard Power (CVHP), Make the Road Action (MRA), New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Alliance for Quality Education, Working Families Party, with allies supporting from Indivisible Nation BK, NY Progressive Action Network, True Blue NY, Justice League NYC, Empire State Indivisible, Met Council on Housing, Tenants and Neighbors, and Rise and Resist.

“We knew that Governor Cuomo was ruthless, but threatening to defund community groups that stand with working people and vulnerable populations is a step too far. Citizen Action won’t be intimidated by Cuomo’s threats. We will continue to mobilize our members to push for equitable school funding, campaign finance reform, and quality health care for all New Yorkers," said Stanley Fritz, Campaign Manager for Citizen Action of New York. "Citizen Action and its community allies want Governor Cuomo to know that we aren't going anywhere."

Marilyn Mendoza, member of Make the Road Action, said, “I’m here today to show Governor Cuomo that we won’t let him intimidate us. Our organization fights for the needs and rights of immigrants and working-class New Yorkers, and we help create the power our community needs to defeat the Trump agenda and protect our families. Threats won’t stop us. We will keep fighting for the good of our community.”

"I was there when the right-wing took down ACORN -- it caused real damage to hundreds of thousands of low-income families across this country," said Marie Pierre, chair of NY Communities for Change. "It is despicable that the Democratic governor in New York is now trying to destroy community organizations in our state. We will not back down in the face of these threats, and we will continue to fight for affordable housing, good jobs, and a better life for all New Yorkers."

"The exposure of Governor Cuomo's vicious attack on community organizations makes clear the contempt and second-class status of our black and brown, immigrant, working poor, LGBTQ communities, and the organizations that hold their stories and share their truths. Frontline communities will not be bullied into submission at the expense of our bold member and member-leaders that place their livelihoods on the line by speaking truth to power, demanding change and building real power in their communities. We stand with our comrade organizations in the movement to say we stand for people power and we’re here to stay!" said Joseph Mpa, Board Member of Community Voices Heard Power!

Bill Lipton, Director of New York Working Families Party, said: "These community organizations are the frontline of resistance against Trump. Every day they do the hard work fighting deportations, evictions, unsafe housing conditions and more. WFP is proud to stand in solidarity with our community leaders in their fight against these threats and for a NY that includes all of us."

The groups also announced a new Community Defense Fund has been set up to support the work of these courageous community organizations under attack:

The New York City Council Progressive Caucus and Assemblymembers Nily Rozic, Tremaine Wright, and Dick Gottfried signed onto the following statement of support:

“As elected officials representing diverse communities across New York, we stand in deep solidarity with these community organizations, who are at the front lines of the fight for respect and dignity for all New Yorkers. Every day, these organizations undertake the most pressing work in our democracy—fighting for the rights of working-class New Yorkers, immigrants, LGBTQ community and people of color. Their members and staff work tirelessly to safeguard immigrant families from deportation, help tenants stand up to unscrupulous landlords and stay in their homes, ensure that workers are paid a living wage, to fight for all New Yorkers to have access to quality health care and fully-funded public schools, protect and expand LGBTQ rights and more. At a time when the Trump administration has declared war on our communities, it’s more critical than ever that organizations like Citizen Action of New York, Community Voices Heard Power, Make the Road Action, and New York Communities for Change be allowed—and indeed, encouraged—to continue their indispensable work. We are committed to standing strong with these incredible organizations.”

New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, added: “Immigrants and working-class New Yorkers rely on these community organizations to help them fight for their rights and basic everyday needs. Whether fighting deportations, keeping people in their homes, or advancing the policy changes our communities need, these groups and their members are on the front lines of the fight for social, economic, and racial justice every day. I applaud their enormous contributions to our city and state, and I will stand strong with them today, tomorrow, and forever.”

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© Erik McGregor - - 917-225-8963
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