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Boehner visit sparks protest at campaign event for Chris Gibson

The signs were out in force as protesters stood behind barricade in front of the entrance to the CVI Building in Ferndale on August 6.

By Fritz Mayer
August 7, 2013

A visit by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to a campaign event for Congressman Chris Gibson sparked a protest by about 75 demonstrators on August 6, across from the entrance of the CVI Building in Ferndale.

The event was hosted by Alan Gerry, the owner of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, and his wife Sandra.

An invitation to the event said that a $2,600 donation entitled the contributor to attend a VIP roundtable, a photo-op, and a general reception: $1,000 was required for the photo op and reception, while the reception by itself required a $250 donation.

As the evening began inside the building, outside on the street multiple speakers addressed various issues, many of which impact people who were not invited to the event and could not afford the price of admission.

In between chants like “Boehner, Gibson too extreme, don’t destroy the American Dream,” speaker after speaker declared that the poor and shrinking middle class are bearing the burden for steep cuts to federal programs and partisan gridlock in Washington D.C.

Kat Fisher, the Hudson Valley Organizer for Citizen Action New York, ticked off a list of 15 organizations represented at the event, including such groups as the NAACP, the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Veterans for Peace and the Americans Postal Workers Union.

Launching into her remarks, Fisher said, “Speaker Boehner, Congressman Gibson and the Republicans in congress are clearly out of touch with what’s happening here in the Hudson Valley. Instead of creating jobs, investing in our communities, giving kids a head start, fixing our broken immigration system, and protecting our environment, their extreme Washington politics are dividing this country.”

Danielle Vereen, who just graduated from Newburgh Free Academy, said students like her who want to go to college face a problem because politicians in Washington “tell us you can’t because they don’t want to give us federal funding.”

Shannon Daniel, a member of the NAACP, talked about the 5% cuts to the pre-school program Head Start, which have been imposed because of so-called sequestration budgeting. She said, “The Sullivan County Head Start program has been so strong and so vibrant for so many years. It hugely benefits not just the single parents in our area, but our struggling families. Cutting Head Start or preschool is basically saying let’s decrease a child’s opportunity and chances of succeeding in school and life.”