Battling miserable March weather and miserable New Yorkers, a dedicated group of people appeared near the New York Athletic Club to protest the administration of Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño. The Republican pro-statehood Fortuño was appearing at the NYAC to speak at a $1,000-plate event sponsored by Office of Puerto Rico in New York. The protest, which was organized through social media, was attended by several Latino activists, and we are fortunate to get a first-hand account from one of them.
Considering the extremely wet and cold weather we are experiencing here in NYC right now, the time of the event and the fact that it was planned at the last minute just after finding out about the Governor’s visit a couple of days ago, it was relatively well-attended. Some might say it was a small crowd of the “usual suspects” and very familiar faces I have seen at PR-related rallies and protests over the years here in the Big Apple, but I saw some new and not-so-familiar faces. The attendance was fluid in the sense that many people came and went passing through, stopping by and showing their faces on their way to work or home from work, and there was a significant flow of individuals who came and went. I would estimate a good 50-75 people were there all the time the protest lasted.
Most of the crowd was there from beginning to end (4:30PM to 6:30PM). The protesters were not allowed to gather right in front of the NY Athletic Club, where Fortuño’s fund-raising event was taking place, but we were forced by authorities to rally across the street and had to keep in constant motion, circling around chanting, holding picket signs and banners and making noise with whistles and cowbells. Authorities did allow Fortuño’s supporters to gather right out front of the NYAC, but throughout the whole time I was there I only saw one person holding a sign I couldn’t even read from where I was and only for a short time in the beginning. There was media present and I expect some TV coverage will be or has been broadcasted somewhere. There was no sign of the Governor of course, since he was well aware that there would be a manifestation today.
Of course I wish there had been hundreds of people there, much more media and more attention or reaction from passerby, but once again, the time, the weather and the fact that New Yorkers are known for their indifference when walking on the street, were major obstacles.