“Hey, hey, ho, ho- Blackstone Group has got to go,” echoed on the Manhattan streets as about twenty-five protesters marched in a circle in front of Blackstone Investment Group’s offices. The rally started at the subway station on 53rd and Lexington in uptown Manhattan. Activists from New York Communities for Change (NYCC) were decorated in orange shirts and held colorful signs, inspired and ready to call out Trump and this private equity firm for seeking to privatize and profit off the city Subway system.
The privatization of public infrastructure is a dangerous trend, one that threatens the safety and stability of our most vital services. Food & Water Watch has long fought privatization of water services and infrastructure wherever it’s been threatened. But we are now standing up with partner organizations such as NYCC, at rallies and petitioning events, to show solidarity and call attention to the implications of privatization at large.
Food & Water Watch has been fighting for years against water privatization in communities big and small, all across the country. Just last week in Atlantic City, New Jersey, we helped deliver more than 2,400 resident signatures on a petition calling for the overthrow of the pending privatization of the municipal water system -- more than enough signatures for this issue to be put to a vote in city council. Our campaign to save Atlantic City’s water system from detrimental privatization has been months and years in the making, and our fight there is far from over.
As residents of Atlantic City and countless other communities have learned, water privatization is a losing deal for everyone but the corporations behind it. The evidence is clear: Privately run water systems charge households 64 percent more than public systems charge. A typical household using 5,000 gallons a month pays an extra $153 a year if its water services are privatized. Additionally, once a publicly run infrastructure is privatized the decision is difficult to reverse. We have seen time and time again how privatization works to take advantage of the consumers. Food & Water Watch will support those who stand up to these corporate profiteers.
But having the facts on your side is only half the battle. Organizing, mobilizing and rallying matters too. As one Food & Water Watch intern at the Blackstone rally in New York stated, “[FWW] is really good at having a presence at events and one of the best things about rallies is the act of showing up. People can recognize our signs and faces and know that we care about these issues.”
Although the protest at Blackstone wasn’t huge, it made a big impression on those participating, and likely on the executives in the building above as well. We are hoping that more New Yorkers will feel inspired to learn more about the privatization of infrastructure as a whole and the implications of these measures on their daily lives. Food & Water Watch will continue to show up on the streets in solidarity with people and groups working for similar interests. The fight against privatization of our critical public infrastructure is one that we must all be in together, out in the streets, in coalition and solidarity. We march on.
Elia Sherman is a summer intern at Food & Water Watch.