May Day rally calls for Poughkeepsie to become a “sanctuary city”, and keep its buses


POUGHKEEPSIE – Community Voices Heard (CVH) held a rally and march from the Family Partnership to Poughkeepsie City Hall on Monday to commemorate May Day.  The group of approximately 250 marchers made up of community activists, college students, union members, and city residents marched to show their support for Poughkeepsie becoming a sanctuary city and to save the city’s bus system which is slated to end in June.

Rally preceeded the Common Council meeting, which included an hour-long presentation in support of sanctuary city designation
by the Poughkeepsie Progressive Alliance

Affua Atta-Mensah, executive director of CVH, told the rally Poughkeepsie must be a “true” sanctuary city.
“We want a sanctuary city that is a real sanctuary for all of us, for all workers, for all low-income people, for students,” Atta-Mensah said. “We are here in full solidarity for what May Day is because we make up Poughkeepsie, because we make up the Hudson Valley area.”
Of the organized speakers, a few rallied the crowd against Mayor Robert Rolison for what they claim is his plan to turn the city’s bus system over to Dutchess County in June. Tom Price, a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie told those gathered that he and his wife are both disabled and rely on the city’s buses for transportation.  Price said that he and his wife own a home in the 8th Ward and are physically unable to make it to the nearest ADA compliant county bus stop because they live 1.8 miles away from it.  
“We feel very betrayed by the city and the mayor for even considering the elimination of the city buses,” Price said
A speaker introduced as Kat Harris, a student at SUNY New Paltz representing the Mid-Hudson Valley College Coalition, said that “May Day is an American holiday,” while calling for less money to be allocated for law enforcement as she rallied for equal pay for all types of work.   
Poughkeepsie Common Council President Natasha Cherry asked that the group
continue the fight.  According to Cherry, the unemployment rate in
Poughkeepsie is 38 percent for minorities and only 50 percent of
the residents have personal vehicles, which makes the Poughkeepsie bus
system vital for the community. 
Council Member Christopher Petsas made the march to City Hall and told the
crowd that the elimination of the buses “is about power, politics,
and personal agendas” while he encouraged his fellow council members
McNamara, Young, and Klein to support the override of the mayor’s veto
regarding bus funding.
Kingston and Newburgh have already declared themselves welcoming cities.

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