Saigon Saga Continues
Written by Bwog Staff
While you were basking in the end of the first day of exams, a ton of your classmates were downtown at a swanky Vietnamese restaurant…yelling their lungs out and shutting it down.
Bwog stopped by a Saigon Grill protest earlier, but it was only a small picket, part of an ongoing two-month protest by delivery workers who had been locked out and fired after being paid $1.60 an hour. Today, at least sixty Columbia students and thirty or so other reps from schools including Hunter, CUNY, the New School, Sarah Lawrence and a few others went down to the Union Square branch of the establishment to stage a sit-in and sidewalk protest.
This is how it went down. Columbia kids gathered at 116th right after their CC and LitHum finals finished, then travelled en masse to Union Square to meet up with the larger group and get situated. From there, small groups of incognito kids moseyed down to the Grill, where they were met by a picket line of delivery workers who cried “Shame on you!” as they entered the restaurant. Once all the students had filled the place, they sat and politely declined to order, much to the confusion of the staff. Then, at 5:30, after some clandestine signals had been thrown around the room, the room stood up at once, ripped off their top layers of clothes, revealed a sea of uniformly red shirts, and started chanting. Once the chanting died down, a Jesuit priest blessed the effort and representatives from AAA and other student groups explained why they were sitting in on the restaurant. Once everyone chanted in unison, the roof just about blew off, and when it died down, participators started making percussive beats on the tables.
It was all love and red-tinged excitement– until, of course, the cops showed up, informing everyone that they had better get out unless they “wanted to be sitting in jail on Monday.” As planned, coordinators shuffled students out, who then joined in more chanting with the picketers who remained outside, a rally that went on unflaggingly for more than an hour and a half. Several of the delivery workers led chants in Chinese- many of them don’t speak English- and students joined in once they picked up on it. Various students likewise took the stand, with one declaring, “It’s a beautiful thing… when the workers and students are united!” The crowd booed people entering the restaurant, the cops stood by with expressionless faces, and the fun stopped soon after the police came to set up a virtual wooden pen around the picketers and students. Anyways, look at these pictures if you don’t have time to read all that.