“World’s Longest Unemployment Line” Winds Through New York City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 1, 2004

Contact: Nathan Richter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202/467-4999

From Wall Street to Madison Square Garden, Dramatic Three-Mile-Long Unemployment Line Highlights Greatest Sustained Job Loss since Great Depression

New York – Today nearly 8,000 people formed a three-mile long symbolic unemployment line through the heart of New York City, drawing the nation’s attention to failed economic policies that have left 8.2 million Americans unemployed.

Organized by People For the American Way’s New York office in cooperation with the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas, and the New York State AFL, The Unemployment Line stretched from Wall Street, the nation’s economic centerpiece, to Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convention.

From precisely 8:13 a.m. to 8:31 a.m. thousands of pink slip-waving participants created a single, silent line along Broadway, the city’s oldest and most celebrated street.

The Unemployment Line puts a human face on the worst jobs economy since the Great Depression, with each participant representing over 1,000 unemployed Americans. The 8.1 million Americans currently looking for work could stand shoulder-to-shoulder and form a line from Crawford, TX all the way to the White House and back.

The Unemployment Line consisted of thousands of individuals from as far away as Alaska and California, as well as members of 18 different labor, social service, and faith-based organizations, many of which adopted blocks of their own. It was sanctioned by the New York Police Department and was entirely peaceful.

“President Bush promised America that he would add 5.5 million jobs to our economy by the end of this year,” said Deni Frand, executive director of People For the American Way’s New York office. “Instead, millions of jobs have been lost, and millions of Americans have been feeling real pain because of his policies.”

“‘The Line’ is a poignant reminder that all over America, men and women are without the kind of jobs that support families and build communities,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “On September 1st, thousands of people raised their voices in New York City and asked on behalf of the millions of the nation’s unemployed, ‘President Bush, why haven’t you put us to work?'”

In the Wall Street area, traders joined the line, and in a mid-town park police officers did the same. Participants standing in the line were greeted with cheers and thumbs-up from pedestrians and honks from passing cars and trucks. As the 18 minute-long event concluded, a roar of applause traveled up and down the line. The actual pink slips themselves are now appearing all over Manhattan: on car dashboards, in store windows and even taped to a hot dog cart.