Today, VOCAL-NY joins allied organizations to protest outside of NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s high-dollar fundraiser for the “Speaker Heastie PAC.” In response to the news that the demonstration will be counter-protested by supporters of the Speaker, and to calls from allies to urge us to reconsider our participation, VOCAL-NY released the following statement, attributable to Jawanza Williams, Director of Organizing at VOCAL-NY
Advocates for Low and No-Income New Yorkers Call to Stop Money In Politics and Lift Roadblocks to Progressive Change
“As a Queer Black New Yorker living with HIV who joined VOCAL-NY five years ago as a homeless member from the Bronx, I could not be more proud to be a part of this work, where I fight for just policies that uplift me and the tens of thousands across the state who are the most marginalized. Like many New Yorkers, it is my dream to run for office one day and give back to the communities that took care of me–but that would not be possible without the proposed public donor match that was blocked in this years budget. For 20 years, VOCAL-NY has been committed to uplifting the voices of this State’s most marginalized–the homeless, the incarcerated, the criminalized and stigmatized by drug use, and those living with HIV/AIDS–to build a people’s movement for radical progressive change. The events of today prove that now more than ever, New York needs fair elections that are free from corporate and Big Donor influence in order to build the power of vulnerable and everyday New Yorkers and tear down systems of oppression and injustice. We will now and forever be committed to these ideals.
Our obligations are first and foremost to the thousands of VOCAL-NY members we organize in chapters across the state, and the memories of hundreds more that we have lost over the last two decades–people who were forgotten, neglected, locked in cages and left to die, and who rose up demanding to live, and then to thrive in the State of New York. And while we have won many victories, New York remains in crisis, with record homelessness, record overdose deaths, and communities across the state that are gentrifying in violent and harmful ways. For many years, the power of big money in Albany has been a direct roadblock to the common-sense progressive victories that would save lives, including support for the homeless, universal rent control, a Green New Deal, marijuana justice, progressive tax policy, and more. That is why it is our moral duty to stand up today in support of a fair elections and against money in politics–as we have so many times in the past–to be seen, to live, and to thrive.”