State workers and commuters unwittingly find themselves in the middle of protest

May 15, 2018 07:02 PM

ALBANY - In the middle of rush hour on Monday, buses were doubled up and attempting U-turns, leaving state workers like Doug Jetters with a first-hand look at the action.

"They did have four or five streets blocked off, making a major traffic jam."

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"People weren't just standing, they were laying on the ground, deliberately stopping the flow of traffic," explained another state worker, Tamekka Freeman.

However, it was exactly what the hundreds of people who participated in the New York State Poor People's Campaign hoped to accomplish.

"We are witnesses in a great tradition for both social justice action and moral action," explained organizer Barbara Smith.

The rally's goal was to demand new programs and policies that fight systemic poverty and racism. Similar protests were held at 35 other capitols around the country and all were modeled after Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent actions to fight for social justice.

"We feel it can't be business as usual if we are going to change the moral narrative which is what we're trying to look at the 140 million people who are poor," added Smith.

While the protest likely frustrated some, it also raised awareness of problems that either go unseen or people choose to ignore.

"Things will not change unless what happened yesterday continues to happen. You inconvenience people and make them uncomfortable," believed Freeman.

Similar demonstrations will be held every week for the next five weeks in Albany.

The Albany Police Department and New York State Police responded. An Albany Police Department spokesman told NewsChannel 13 that officers were aware the organizers had a permit, but did not expect it to close down the streets surrounding the Capitol.


Abigail Bleck

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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