Fasts End As Grads, Protesters Fill Streets
by LUCY GELLMAN | May 22, 2017 3:13 pm – New Haven Independent
Paul Bass Photo
Two separated seas of gowns — one orange, one black — replaced cars on New Haven’s streets, as Yale’s graduation collided with a march and rally to mark the end of the protest fast as well as a continuing labor dispute over graduate student teachers.
The New Haven police assigned about 200 cops to join Yale police in bringing order to the potential chaos on closed-off streets from York Street to Church Street, according to Assistant Chief Otoniel Reyes. Public works, traffic and parking crews, and the fire department all pitched in too.
Yale conferred degrees to 3,618 graduate and undergraduate students at the annual commencement. The students wore black caps and gowns as they paraded down Elm and various side streets, then gathered on Old Campus courtyard.
Meanwhile, some 2,500 supporters of UNITE HERE Local 33, the new union representing graduate student teachers in eight academic departments, swarmed other streets. They poured in from at least six states to support Local 33’s call for Yale to negotiate a first contract rather than pursue repeated appeals of the new union’s election before the National Labor Relations Board.