Members of Community Voices Heard (CVH) joined with college students, union workers, activists and city residents in a march from the Family Partnership Center to city hall with a varied agenda on Monday.

Organizers of the event, including Affua Atta-Mensah, executive director of CVH, said the rally was being held for a variety of reasons.

A statement released by Jordan Taylor of CVH said the event’s purpose was to bring together supporters of the campaign to save city buses, groups fighting to improve public education, and those who believe it is necessary for Poughkeepsie to become a sanctuary for immigrants.

Taylor’s press release went on to say that “the rally will be putting pressure on the Poughkeepsie Common Council, specifically second ward councilman Mike Young, to override the mayor’s veto against the city buses” along with issues pertaining to sanctuary cities.

Mayor Rob Rolison was chastised by the attendees for his plan to turn the city bus system over to Dutchess County as a cost saving measure.

Earlier in April the common council passed a resolution to take money from another budget line to pay for the buses through the end of the year. Rolison vetoed the bill.

Councilman Chris Petsas was at the march and told those in attendance that the plans to eliminate the buses “is all about power, politics, and personal agendas.”

He also encouraged attendees to join him at the council meeting in the evening to apply pressure to council members McNamara, Young and Klein to support the override of the mayor’s veto regarding bus funding.

Kat Harris, a SUNY New Paltz student and representative of the Mid-Hudson Valley College Coalition, read a prepared statement calling for economic equality for everyone and a reduction in the allocation of funding for law enforcement.

Several officers from the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department were present to safely escort the marchers on their route and to maintain order.

Poughkeepsie Common Council President Natasha Cherry gave some statistics to the crowd including the fact that the City of Poughkeepsie has a 38 percent unemployment rate and 50 percent of the residents do not have personal vehicles. Cherry used those stats to bolster her position on keeping the bus system in place while encouraging the protesters to continue the fight.

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