After months of focusing on members of Congress, protesters with the CNY Solidarity Coalition are shifting their attention to the New York State Legislature to push their progressive agenda. They are calling on Democratic state Sen. Dave Valesky to cut his ties with the Independent Democratic Conference.
Protesters wore black veils and carried fake tombstones at a mock funeral held outside Valesky’s office in Syracuse. Rachel May with CNY Solidarity was among them.
“Dearly beloved, we come here to pay our respects to poor, progressive Bill,” May said.
Bill being legislation passed by the Democrat-led Assembly but stalled in the state Senate, including single-payer healthcare.
“In the state Senate, hostile committee chairs treated him with neglect, starved him of attention, and left him to die," May said.
Other issues include voting reform and immigrant rights. Eric van der Vort spoke at the protest about gender identity protections which passed the Assembly.
"Things like employment nondiscrimination, things like public accommodations and housing, gender identity, unlike sexual orientation, is not currently included in those laws," van der Vort said. "This bill would amend other statutes to include those."
The IDC, a group of breakaway Democrats including Valesky, informally lead the Senate with Republicans. That has allowed Republicans to set the agenda.
“We think it’s just wrong that Republicans are calling the shots in the Senate,” May said.
She said CNY Solidarity wants Valesky to leave the IDC and become a regular Democrat.
“More importantly we want all of the IDC members to give us a Democratic majority to move some of these bills forward that pass in the Assembly by large margins,” May said.