Occupy protests come to New Paltz

Justin Holmes at last Saturday’s event in New Paltz. (Photo by Nathan Cervoni )

A group of protesters took to the streets in New Paltz last weekend in a show of solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street group in Manhattan. Meeting in front of Village Hall, the protesters made their way to Chase Bank on Main Street to protest big, bailed-out banks and the inequity of wealth distribution in the United States.

Activists from New Paltz have been trying to help the main group of protesters gathered and making news in New York City’s Zuccotti Park by starting last weekend’s food and supply drive. Organized by a 99 Percenter spin-off group, called Occupy Wall Street Hudson Valley, last weekend’s effort also doubled as a protest of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


Billiam van Roestenberg, of New Paltz, has helped organize some of the protests in Kingston and Poughkeepsie, as well as the one last weekend in New Paltz. He said that he doesn’t think the 99 Percent protests are going away any time soon. While the protest was meant to help show support for the ones in New York City, it is also making sure that people in the Hudson Valley have what they need.

“We need to organize here and support our community,” the activist said. Of all the countries in the world, the United States is ranked 93rd — below Russia, Egypt, India or even Iran — in terms of the inequity of wealth. Activists in the New Paltz area want that to stop. “We want to stop the suffering. A few people are like royalty — they have so much.”

New Paltz’s Occupy protests got a boost from college students, albeit ones from Poughkeepsie. “A lot of these people really made it come alive,” van Roestenberg said.

Rosalyn Cherry, also of New Paltz, has been an outspoken opponent of hydraulic fracturing. Recently she’s turned her attention toward the 99 Percent protests as well. She attended the Oct. 15 rally and spoke to the crowd there.

She took the message of the song “This Land is Your Land” and twisted it to show, what she says, is the truth of life in America.

“This is not your land. This is not my land. It belongs to the corporations in the oil and gas industry,” Cherry told the protesters. “The Occupy Wall Street movement is bringing more awareness to how the greedy corporations are in charge of our elections, our health care – or not – our pensions and on and on. The oil and gas industry want to frack in our state, and it looks like they will without waiting for more studies, including the public health impact of fracking.”


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