Approximately 20 members of Occupy Rockland gathered at the corner of Routes 59 and 45 in Spring Valley on Sunday afternoon. Group members remained undeterred by 20 degree weather and an even colder wind chill as they held signs that honored Dr. King and promoted economic justice.
Organizer Len Tsou was pleased with the turnout and noted that the location of the vigil was a response to the economic conditions faced by Spring Valley.
“We are committed to coming here, the Spring Valley area which is the most depressed area in the county, and to show our memory of Martin Luther King,” said Tsou. Group member Nancy Tsou agreed, adding that “the theme is really to honor Dr. King and also to remind ourselves that we should have economic justice, racial equality and peace. And the reason why we’re doing this here is because Spring Valley is the epicenter of economic injustice.”
The vigil was part of a larger program of events organized by Occupy Wall Street. In New York, activists were scheduled to gather at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine and then march to Riverside Church where Dr. King delivered a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence."
Occupy Rockland member “Joe” spoke about the notion that the current Occupy movement is an outgrowth of the social activism personified by Dr. King, and that elected leaders need to be held accountable.
“It’s never too late, we’re here now," said Joe. "The bottom line is back in the 60’s black folks used to fight for the right to vote and everything else. You have to remember we elect these people and we can’t let them control our lives the way they have been. It’s time for people to stand up.”
The Occupy Rockland group was also represented by Northeastern University student Kathleen Cancio who has been involved with a number of different groups.
“I was involved with Occupy Boston and Occupy Northeastern University and I came here to help out the cause,” said Cancio. “I think it’s important to be here and to connect Martin Luther King’s birthday with the income inequalities that he fought against in his time that we’re still facing today, and just to see that his dream repeats itself and we keep trying.”