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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/7/17

Reclaiming Gotham: Juan Gonza'lez on Cities Leading the Revolt Against Trumpism & Neoliberal Policies

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The city of New York announced Tuesday it is deploying funding for legal services for DACA recipients across the city, following the Trump administration's decision to rescind the DACA program. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "You are not alone. ... If you face legal problems, we'll be right there with you." The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration's agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington. This is a central theme in a new book by Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonza'lez titled "Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America's Tale of Two Cities." For more, we speak with Juan Gonza'lez, longtime staff writer for the New York Daily News, now a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

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AMY GOODMAN: The city of New York announced Tuesday it's deploying funding for legal services for DACA recipients across New York. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, quote, "You are not alone. ... If you face legal problems, we'll be right there with you." At a news conference, Mayor de Blasio urged President Trump not to mess with fellow New Yorkers.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: We are here to stand by each and every one of them. Thirty thousand New Yorkers, this morning, were put in the crosshairs. They are our neighbors. They are our friends. They are our colleagues. They are our family members. We stand with all 30,000 DREAMers here in New York City and all 800,000 around this country. ...

We are going to stand up to this. And New Yorkers do not take kindly to anything that affronts our fellow New Yorkers. We don't take kindly to people being separated out because of who they are. So I have a message for President Trump: Don't mess with your fellow New Yorkers.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile in Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh also slammed President Trump for rescinding DACA.

MAYOR MARTY WALSH: I can say this honestly to the White House: We don't want you here in Boston. We don't want any part of you in Boston. We're doing perfectly fine without you. I think it's a sad statement that the president of the United States of America and the attorney general of the United States of America are sending messages out to so many good young people. Many of those young people, the DREAMers that we're talking about, right now are fighting for this country, fighting with their uniform on, under this flag, and proud of that.

AMY GOODMAN: The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration's agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington.

This is a central theme of a new book by my colleague Juan Gonza'lez, co-host of Democracy Now! It's titled Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America's Tale of Two Cities. The book examines how de Blasio and other progressive city leaders are leading a nationwide revolt against corporate-oriented, neoliberal policies that have dominated urban America for decades. In addition to co-hosting Democracy Now!, Juan Gonza'lez is author of a number of books, including Harvest of Empire, News for All the People and Fallout. He was a staff writer at the New York Daily News from 1987 'til just last year, now a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

Juan, it's great to have you here talking about your new book, Reclaiming Gotham. I mean, we see the mass protests just yesterday and today around DACA, and this is really the major thesis of your book. Who is speaking out now? Who are the progressive forces in America?

JUAN GONZA'LEZ: Well, yes, Amy. I began to notice, actually about four years ago, in 2013, that there was something happening in the cities across the country that was actually a movement, a political movement that was not getting much attention. And that is the rise, post-the Great Recession, post-the Occupy Wall Street movement, that many young and progressive people were running for political office and actually winning seats in city councils and some even in mayoral races across the country, and that they were, in essence, the political -- the political effect of a mass movement now that has been building across the country for decades, and that Bill de Blasio -- and, you know, people say to me, "Well, has Juan Gonza'lez gone crazy? Is he now wanting to praise Democratic politicians?" I think that you have to look beyond individuals, and you have to look beyond positions, and you have to try to understand the systemic things that are happening.

One of the things I realized was that the de Blasio victory in 2013, because New York City is such an important part of the United States -- we're talking about a city with a $70 billion budget back then, with 300,000 employees. It is a huge administrative unit of government in America. And the fact that a left-leaning progressive, de Blasio, complete upstart, who no one expected to win, had captured the most important city in the United States and the center of world capitalism, had captured its administrative apparatus, that that was only a reflection of what was going on across the country. And very few journalists and scholars have begun to look at this as a movement. So I started doing more research into other cities to try to understand how this happened, how real was it in terms of substantive change for the future. So that's what my book is about.

AMY GOODMAN: Your book begins with the scene on Inauguration Day in 2014 here in New York City. I want to go back now to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking at his inauguration in 2014.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
 
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