From RochesterCityNewspaper.com, John L. Ghertner, MD, 5 Jul 2011.
Albany, NY — On June 16, a group of Wayne County residents, farmworkers, and supporters traveled to Albany for an appointment to meet with state senators to lobby for farmworker rights. Upon passing through the routine screening into the Senate chamber lobby, they were stopped by the sergeant at arms and told to leave under threat of arrest by the New York State Police.
These are our neighbors attempting to exercise their democratic right to speak with their senators. They were not protesting, making noise, or acting without civility. They were singled out perhaps because they were not attired in expensive suits, perhaps because they are Hispanic. So instead of exercising their democratic rights, they were delegated to the status of second-class citizens, about which they had appointments with senators.
Where you stand on the issues of farmworker rights, whether you think farmworkers deserve the same rights as other laborers, is a moot point. The fact that citizens of this country were refused the right to enter a public building (in fact were threatened with arrest) and speak to their elected representatives at a time which was scheduled is NOT the democracy for which we are all fighting.
Senator Nozzolio, who represents the district in which these US citizens live, has “requested a formal inquiry into this matter, to be conducted by the Secretary of the New York State Senate, the highest administrative officer in the Senate.”
Please send an email to your state senator or to Senator Nozzolio (email@example.com) in support of our efforts to correct this miscarriage of the democratic process and to ensure that this does not happen again, perhaps to you.
JOHN L. GHERTNER, MD
Ghertner is with Migrant Support Services of Wayne County Sodus.