NEW YORK — Thousands of demonstrators assembled in a symbolic unemployment line on Wednesday that stretched from Wall Street in lower Manhattan to the site of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden to decry what they said was rising joblessness under the Bush administration.
This story first appeared in the September 2, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Each protestor held a neon pink slip of paper that read “The Next Pink Slip Might Be Yours’’ in solidarity with an estimated eight million Americans who don’t have jobs. Some taxi drivers honked their horns and passersby offered words of encouragement to the orderly demonstrators, who stayed in formation from 8:13 to 8:31 a.m.
The demonstration, organized by People for the American Way, a nonprofit group based in Washington, was billed as “The World’s Longest Unemployment Line,’’ representing 1.2 million jobs lost since March 2001. The organizers said that as many as 5,000 people took part. Other protests were planned by the Central Labor Council and the National Organization for Women.
The latest street theater mounted by opponents of President Bush was in contrast to several clashes between protesters and police on Tuesday that resulted in hundreds of arrests. The protesters battled police on the steps of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. Across from Macy’s in Herald Square, foot and motor vehicle traffic came to a standstill as hundreds of police officers tried to quell civil disobedience that erupted around 6:15 p.m. Other protests took place in Union Square and at Ground Zero, and roving bands of demonstrators confronted Republican delegates.
Arlene Dombrosky, who hasn’t worked for two years since losing her job as a sewing machine operator at Rosal, the maker of Alfred Dunner apparel, said she traveled from Jim Thorpe, Pa., to stand in the unemployment line.
“My age is against me,” Dombrosky said. “I’m 62. Jobs aren’t there — other than Kmart, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. You can’t make a living off that. There’s no health care, no pension program. You’re existing. That’s the extent of it.”
Another protester, Rachel Falcon, 19, a Vassar College junior, said it was important to have young people in the line because college students are among those most affected by unemployment. “I’m out here for the people who are struggling more than me,” she said.