2:21 pm Jan. 19, 2012
Here's footage of the Queens College professor who briefly interrupted Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget presentation in Queens this morning.
Grace Davie, a member of Occupy Queens who teaches African history and the history of non-violent movements at the school, stood up and yelled "mic check" three times. (Occupy protesters use the "mic check" call as a signal to repeat in unison what the lead demonstrator is about to say.)
But there wasn't much support among the audience for Davie's mic check. So, she stood up and said, "I will be very brief."
Cuomo tried continuing his remarks and again, Davie said, "I will be very brief."
"So will I," said Cuomo.
Davie said she wanted Cuomo to "double his commitment to public education, to create even more jobs."
"Okay ma'am," Cuomo said. "How about you let me finish, and then I'll give you a turn, okay?"
Davie kept talking and Cuomo responded, "Thank you very much."
She finished her remarks and sat down, and again, Cuomo said, "Thank you very much."
Davie was not removed by security or police officers, although a few moved toward her when she began her demonstration.
Afterward, Davie told me she "was really happy when he changed his position on taxing the wealthiest New Yorkers, but I think he can do even more."
Cuomo shrugged off the event, telling reporters, "Oh it happens, probably, oh, one out of every three times I would say."
Over email this afternoon, Davie told me the reaction she got after speaking out was positive. "I got smiles and nods," she wrote. "One man came to shake my hand."
UPDATE: Over email, I asked Davie what she thought of Cuomo's overall performance and what specifically motivated her to action today. She wrote:
It was not a protest against Cuomo, but against the injustices facing the 99% as a result of the under-regulated influx of money into our political system.
What motivated me was a sense of duty to speak out about these injustices. My friends in this movement are being beaten by the police simply for peacefully protesting. Politely interrupting the governor for a few moments, was the least I could do for this important movement.
I recall reading what the governor said to a colleague about marraige equality... that "it feels good to do the right thing."
Dealing with extreme income inequality and threats to our democratic process are also right things to do. Speaking only for myself, and none of the 13 GAs in NYC, I hope Cuomo will be a good faith partner to the occupy movement. I hope Cuomo will continue to be responsive to this movement, as he seemed to be when he changed his position on taxation this fall.
The people have more power than the power to vote. We have the power to change ourselves, to imagine different societies, and to use nonviolent methods to persuade the powerful to work for the good of all.