New York City students walk out to save Metrocards

June 11, 2010 2:54:48 PM PDT
Hundreds of New York City students walked out of school Friday and marched to City Hall and across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the elimination of free metrocards.

"We're protesting for our rights, we're doing it, and we're going to get very far with it," said Angelis Gonzalez, a student protestor.

"They need students like us to go to college for the future, and if they cut the metrocards it's not going to happen," said Faizul Hoque, a student protestor.

Adult volunteers helped round up protestors at Franklin K. Lane and other high schools.

"All students should stand up and go to City Hall and fight for our rights because we do have a right to have metrocards," said German Flores, a student protestor.

One of the larger contingents walked out of Dewitt Clinton High in the Bronx.

On his weekly radio program Friday morning, the mayor disapproved of the walkout.

But, City Council Member Letitia James says the protest was part of the students' education.

"This is a lesson in civics, a lesson in government participation and a lesson in teaching these students how to petition their government to make things happen," James said.

The students then left City Hall Park, gaining in numbers, as they marched and chanted their way across the Brooklyn Bridge, to a staging area just outside Transit Authority Headquarters.

"I wouldn't be able to go to school, as well as thousands of students in the city, 'cause my mom is a single parent, she's disabled, and I wouldn't have money to get to the school that I am," said Larissa Reyes, a student protestor.

Bloomberg said the following on his radio show:

"The city puts in $45 million towards paying for those, and we have not cut that back one penny. I've cut back police, fire, everything else. Not that. So you know, that's all we can do. We are not going to make up for the state, we cannot do that under any circumstances. So maybe they should do that at the state Capitol steps and not at the City Hall steps. You know, we just talked about what you need to do to succeed. If I were a kid and looking at what's going on with all the college graduates this year, and how tough it is to get a job, I think I might want to get an education because I don't want to spend the rest of my life not being able to make a living. I would like to enjoy the great things that America offers, but you have to have an education. Great things aren't necessarily things money can buy, but great things are a chance to make a difference. And for that you have to have an education. Its pretty hard to find anything you don't need an education for. So I would argue that they'd be better off in class, for their own point of view. And they are barking up the wrong tree, is the old expression. And there are a couple unions say we are not supporting them, but if they encourage or go along, that's supporting them. Its good theater, makes them feel good, but it doesn't put any pressure on Albany. They should go and picket their representatives in Albany if they feel they aren't doing the job. I'm not here to criticize senators and assembly people in Albany, they have to make a decision either/or. What is unfair is the state pays for bus service in all the other counties and doesn't want to pay for it in New York City. The steps of City Hall is nice theater, it's good weather, I hope they have a good time. If I were them, I would think long and hard one day, if I didn't pass a test, that Friday afternoon when O was trying to be cute and be out there picketing, better than being in class. Is that the day I could have learned that one little fact that could have got me into that better school, got me that better degree, got me that better job?"

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