Wednesday’s chilly Central New York weather did not stop 1199SEIU and hundreds of community activists from leading a march from Syracuse, NY’s City Hall Commons to the Federal Building, in order to protest cuts against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Mayor Stephanie Miner started off the parade by giving a message that it is the responsibility of citizens to vote, and to advocate for the programs that benefit the community.
The marchers gave messages along the way by chanting, “The people united will never be defeated,” and “They say cut back, we say take back.” It was a diverse crowd of people including senior citizens, disabled activists, and labor. At the Federal Building, a rally was led by Jerry Lotierzo of The Alliance for Retired Americans.
Professor Eric Kingson of Syracuse University and Co-Chair of Social Security Works spoke about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as public trusts necessary to protect seniors, children with disabilities and people who deserve the respect of their communities. He had a message for Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle regarding her support of Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America, saying “Disavow your vote to privatize and slash Medicare protection by turning it into coupon program. Rethink your embrace of the House Republican budget which would cut Medicaid funding by 39% over the next ten years.”
Sally Johnson from Disabled in Action spoke about the importance of leaving no one behind, even in hard times in our economy because that is what these programs were built for. She was emphatic that Medicare is not going broke and that won’t happen until 2024 when people will still benefit from 90% of the fund. Her message to Congress was loud and clear, “Stop scaring the public!”
Community Advocate Agnes McCray spoke of the values Americans share, when she stated, “The Pledge of Allegiance says, liberty and justice for all, not liberty and justice for the few and the rich.” Agnes spoke meaningfully about what these programs mean to her as a disabled person and a mother for without them she would be in a nursing home and not have the dignity of living on her own.