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Video and Photos: Haiti Earthquake Anniversary March and Rally in NYC

January 12, 2011

Haitian-Americans march through NYC.

Above and at bottom: Haitian-Americans march through NYC. Middle: Sharpton speaks.

Sharpton speaks.

Haitian-Americans march through NYC.

With tears literally frozen to their faces, hundreds of Haitians and their allies marched through Manhattan today, marking the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti last January.

"One year later, with all the people walking the airport at Port-au-Prince like it's a red carpet, we have not seen rebuilding in Haiti," said Rev. Al Sharpton outside the United Nations. "I've come tonight to say, 'Where's the money? Where's the rebuilding? Where's the help?'"

A powerful force gathered beneath the lights at Times Square for the start of the rally, the largest New York event to mark the quake. Among them were schoolchildren; a host of rabbis and priests; City Councilmembers Matthieu Eugene, Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez; Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham; Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff; NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes; Diaspora Community Services Executive Director Carine Jocelyn and Housing Works CEO Charles King.

See photos.

The march hit a dramatic high outside the Haitian consulate when police arrested 10 activists representing Housing Works and Diaspora Community Services. The protesters blocked Madison Avenue in a an act of nonviolent protest. "A year of pain, nothing's changed!" marchers yelled as the arrested were herded away.

Exactly one year after the quake, much of Haiti still lays in ruin. The arrested activists, as well as the rally's community sponsors, are calling for the international community to address the dismally slow pace of recovery by meeting four specific demands: removal of rubble; the provision of stable shelter; the provision of clean water; and access to employment.

More than 50 percent of the original 19 million cubic meters of rubble remains uncleared in Haiti. More than one million people are still displaced, cholera has claimed more than 3,600 lives, and unemployment sits at an estimated 80 percent of the population. The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, has failed to pass the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act, legislation which would have provided $2 billion in recovery funds to Haiti.

See Video

Wednesday's snowy catharsis was reminiscent of a 1990 rally in which thousands of frustrated Haitians streamed across the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of the AIDS crisis, protesting the FDA's recommendation that the Haitian community refrain from donating blood.

"Anger, outrage, sadness, humiliation, that's how we felt in 1990. And also a lack of support from the U.S. government ... and I think it translates into exactly how we feel now," said Nadine Juste-Beckles, a Haitian American and Housing Works employee who was arrested -- along with her 24-year-old daughter -- outside the consulate this afternoon. Juste-Beckles was just 20 years old when she marched across the bridge, holding hands with her parents as the bridge bounced beneath the marchers' collective weight.

Today, as night fell and the rally arrived at the UN, the sound of drums pulsed through the air and Haitians danced around the stage. Jocelyn, a Haitian-American and one of the event's coordinators, took the stage with her young daughter, Nicole. "We are here to say, in the shadows of the UN ... when something is wrong, you gotta stand up." She turned to Nicole. "If this isn't a history lesson, I don't know what is."

Housing Works, which supports three health clinics in Haiti, was part of a network of groups sponsoring the event. Other participants include Bailey House; CAMBA; Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce; Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens; CHE; Diaspora Community Services; Dwa Fanm; HAFALI; Haiti Cultural Exchange; Haiti Solidarity Network NE; Haitian Centers Council; Housing Works; JCRC; Lambi Fund; MADRE; National Action Network; NHAHA; NAACP; New York Immigrant Coalition; People's Organization for Progress.

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This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
Haiti Earthquake

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