Washington Square News

WSP Women’s Strike Met With Disruption by Far Right

By Mack DeGeurin, News Editor

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On International Women’s Day, Mar. 8, people protested at Washington Square Park demanding women’s rights.

Hundreds gathered in near-freezing temperatures in Washington Square Park on Thursday as part of the International Women’s Day Rally and March. The event, which is being held in multiple countries around the world, aims to address sexual discrimination and gender parity and follows on the heels of the #MeToo movement.

Protest organizers on Facebook asked women and their allies in New York City to boycott all labor both paid and unpaid for one hour.

At the time of this writing, nearly 550 people on Facebook said they were attending the Washington Square Park Protest. The protesters and strikers organized under the mantra, “if we stop, the world stops.”

The International Women’s Strike NYC presented its position in a press release on Left Voice.org.

“In [New York City], we are calling women and their allies to strike during one hour from all labor, both paid and unpaid,” the press release read. “Our organizing process in 2018, however, has been more oriented towards [sic] building an ever wider coalition of diverse, though politically proximate radical organizations — grass-root feminist groups, unions, worker centers, cooperatives, socialist groups, immigrant rights, social justice and community based organizations, principally.”

While the majority of the Washington Square protest was peaceful, multiple disturbances arose as protesters engaged with a group of men and women who stretched out a Trump 2016 political banner and wore Make America Great Again hats.

Protesters engaged with the supposed Trump supporters chanting “Nazi scum off our streets.” Local NYPD intervened multiple times to quell tensions over the course of several hours. In the video below, a man wearing dark glasses and a Make America Great Again hat can be heard saying, “I order you to the gas chambers.”

Toward the end of the rally, a group of protesters dressed in black with bandanas covering their faces stepped in front of the supposed Trump supporters and extended a pink banner reading, “Kill all Rapists.”

A ‘Kill All Rapists’ banner in Washington Square Park. Photo by Mack DeGeurin.

At around 6:00 p.m., the tension turned violent. According to CAS first-year student Emily Rogers, a protester threw a snowball at one of the pro-Trump supporters. The Trump supporter then allegedly hurled a snowball back at the protestors. The two groups then clashed and began pushing and shoving.

According to Rogers, the police dragged at least two people away. At least one protester was arrested according to Rogers.

Rogers said that she was then pepper sprayed by one of the pro-Trump supporters.

“I went to a group of five or so cops asking for help after being pepper sprayed but they refused to speak to me and then began mocking me,” Rogers told WSN via text message. “I went up to two other officers who refused to do anything, would not take my statement or let me file a complaint and would not even go over to the Trump supporters to monitor their violence. After I called an ambulance and went to the ER [emergency room] where I was finally able to give a police report.”

WSN could not independently confirm if any arrests were made at the protest.  

Rogers posted about the event on a Snapchat group including many NYU freshman called NYU VIBES.

Mack DeGuerin
A protester at the women’s rights protest gets pepper sprayed on March 8.

Despite these tensions, speakers from multiple groups continued on without interruption at the rally.

The speakers called for a multitude of different initiatives including but not limited to: free healthcare, free college, paid family leave and free abortion on demand.

Speakers and protesters addressed a number of other political matters with some calling for an independent Palestinian State and others advocating against what they described as a patriarchal system.

An activist from the New York State Nurses Association addressed the crowd and called for free universal health care.

“We want a good healthcare system that is free for everyone,” she said.

Many in the crowd chanted, “Healthcare for all.”

Rosy Clark, a spokesperson for the Movement for Rank and File Educators, spoke at the event calling for paid family leave for educators in New York State. While a state-paid family leave program went into place this January, those in unionized public sector professions, like public school teachers, are still not guaranteed.

GSOC, NYU’s graduate student union also advocated for paid family leave prior to the event in Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. GSOC and a number of other teacher and student organizations joined together under the banner the Education Contingent to the International Women’s Strike.

Following the rally, a number of the protesters marched through downtown. The protestors passed through symbolic sites such as the Stonewall Inn, the Varick Street Immigration Court and the NYU Brown Building — the location of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

Additional Reporting by Alejandro Villa Vásquez and Sakshi Venkatraman.

Email Mack DeGeurin at [email protected].

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