If you're going to protest going to jail after leading an illegal transit strike for three days, then you might as well with the Reverend Al Sharpton, teachers union head Randi Weingarten, and about a thousand other supporters. And according to plan, many members of various unions are starting to view Roger Toussaint as a martyr, versus the main guy who inconvenienced the city (well, it's him and MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow). Toussaint headed off for his ten day jail stand in a big way: Rally outside the Brooklyn courthouse where he was sentenced and a rousing march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Some of what Toussaint told his supporters (and the news crews):
"Jail has no terror for me compared to the shame I would have felt if we would have simply swallowed the authority's miserable prestrike offer!"
"I will do 30 years before transit workers surrender. Never on my watch."
Weingarten said, "Roger Toussaint is going to jail today because he fought for fairness that is wrong!" Naturally, Governor Pataki doesn't think that and said that people pray for Matthew Long, the firefighter who was hit by a transit-strike-arranged vehicle from Bear Stearns during his transit strike biking commute, instead of Toussaint. Interestingly enough, NYC Transit Chairman Barry Feinstein doesn't think jailing Toussaint was a good idea, but he says that he thought the transit union should have revoted, but implies too much time had passed hence the MTA's claim their post-strike offer was no good. Can you believe, months after the transit strike, there is still no deal?
If you're downtown, Sharpton will be joining Toussaint for prayers this morning and says he will be holding a vigil outside the Tombs until Toussaint comes out. And at the Tombs, aka the Bernard Kerik Complex, Toussaint will be in the civil offender lockup section.
Photograph of marchers, including Randi Weingarten and Reverend Al Sharpton flanking Toussaint from the AP