And Hispanic Demonstrators Call For Health Care Coverage
By World Journal
June 6, 2002
Nearly two thousand Chinese and Hispanic immigrants protested in
front of the U. S Courthouse on June 5, demanding that the Federal
Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) provide medical coverage
for residents in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, and that they
conduct a study on air pollution caused by the World Trade Center
Led by a group of Chinese immigrants who suffered from the September
11 attacks, the demonstration was accompanied by Chinese drum-playing
as marchers chanted "everybody needs medical care."
Hsu Chin-tsai, who runs a garment factory on Centre Street and
north of Canal Street, said he and more than 20 of his workers did
not work for the two weeks after September 11 and were barred from
the area because they could not provide resident identifications.
Their FEMA applications were turned down and they all have suffered
from the toxic air in the area and have been coughing ever since.
Taking two hours off from work, Hsu and his workers joined the protest
calling on the government to provide medical coverage for the residents
of Lower Manhattan.
More than 1,500 protestors gathered in front of Yung Wing Elementary
School and marched along Division Street, Bowery, Worth, and turned
onto Centre Street, arriving at Foley Square in front of the U.
The protest was organized by the Chinese Staff and Workers Association
and National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS). Demonstrators
listened to speeches in Cantonese, Fuchownese, English and Spanish
attacking the government for not taking care of the residents in
Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
Mike Andrade Lalan, an organizer from NMASS, said the toxic air
from the World Trade Center site is still covering Lower Manhattan,
affecting the health of more than 10,000 children and senior citizens.
He attacked the government for covering up the effects of the toxic
air and said that many of FEMAs policies make it difficult
for victims to obtain compensation.
According to Lalan, FEMA statistics showed that more than 30,000
people applied for federal aid but that only about 300 applicants
receive aid every day. He added that much of the assistance provided
is only temporary and is not enough for the thousands of people
who lost their jobs. He called for medical coverage for those whose
health was affected.
Many of the protestors are Chinese women who work for garment factories
and have no medical care. Many of them said their health has been
affected by the toxic air and hope that FEMA can provide appropriate
Chen, one of the protestors who works in a garment factory, took
a day off to join the demonstration. She said it was her first time
in a demonstration since she came to the United States. six years
ago because the government has been negligent in taking care of
the people affected by the September 11 attacks.
Echoing the Chinese signs saying "Everybody needs medical
care" held by the Chinese protestors, the Hispanic protestors
held English signs that read "Rebuild life, rebuild New York.".
The demonstration lasted for about an hour and half, ending at 1:30
p.m. The whole process was emotional but it remained a peaceful
Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung.
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