September 4, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Central Park, NY—Fashion week kicked off on Wednesday evening here with runway models parading through the park on horse-drawn carriages. Teamster officials with Joint Council 16 escorted the models to the carriages as anti-horse carriage advocates hounded them.
In the accompanying video you can see the protestors surrounding the models and repeatedly chant, “Shame on you.”
We interviewed Demos Demopoulos, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 553, which represents the horse-carriage drivers, and asked him about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public statements that he wants to ban the horse-carriage industry.
“We’re very lucky to have the public supporting this industry. A poll came out where 61 percent of the public believes there shouldn’t be a ban. We’re willing to talk, but this industry is going to stay. We’ve dug in for a long fight,” said Demopoulos.
Standing next to one of the runway models, we asked George Miranda, president of the Joint Council 16 of Teamsters, if he wanted to make a statement as he too was being drowned out by chants of “Shame on you.”
“This is typical New York. We go through this all the time. They’re entitled to protest. We’re here to make sure that the horses are properly taken care of and the models are protected,” said Miranda.
LaborPress publisher Neal Tepel was walking nearby and said he was very disturbed by the protestors’ actions.
“It was disgusting the way the protestors behaved. They were trying to spook the horses and harass the drivers and bystanders. The police did not control them. They stood by and did not make an attempt to control demonstrators. Police barricades should have been in place and more police should have been assigned.”
He believes the police were told not to interfere.
“There were no barricades and no attempt to control the protestors. I have never seen an uncontrolled mob in the city where police had time to prepare and I have participated in hundreds of demonstrations. Six policeman assigned was absurd. Clearly they were told not to interfere. I observed a group of demonstrators harassing an older lady and the police stood by until I asked them to help.”
The poll alluded to by Demopoulos was the Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday revealing that 61 percent of city voters are against shutting down the industry. In response, the mayor was quoted by the Daily News as saying, “When a full airing of the facts occur, I think there’s going to be different poll numbers.”