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Occupy Buffalo’s F29: ALEC Protest at Bank of America

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by Occupy Buffalo

2/29/12- Occupy Buffalo assembled in Niagara Square to participate in F29 in solidarity with 80 other cities nationwide. F29 targeted corporations that are members of ALEC, that is the American Legislative Exchange (for Cash) Council. Here in Buffalo, NY we protested ALEC member Bank of America.

We began our march with banners and signs in hand. We began chanting “Bank of America is not for America!” As we made it up to Main St., which is the heart of Buffalo’s financial district, a SUV marked “Dept. of Homeland Security Protective Services K-9 Unit” pulled up onto the sidewalk and beat us to the main Bank of America branch. We continued our chant and distributed literature to the people on Main St. while walking down to the branch. A second DHS vehicle pulled up all before we even made it to the bank.

We arrived at a closed branch and the building was on a lock down. There were armed guards and even some DHS inside the bank. DHS was also outside the bank monitoring us. We began to Soap Box. Individuals talked about how Bank of America should not be able to write legislation and pass it to legislators with ALEC. Others talked about how Bank of America had $4.4 billion in income, had received $45 billion in bailout funds, and did not pay taxes last year. Still others discussed the home foreclosure & robo-signing scandal.

One occupier walked up to a DHS officer and asked him: “Excuse me, Officer, who sent you out here today?” (Watch the transaction at 11:09 in the video.) The DHS officer responded: “We are here to protect the people in the building…” Another occupier asked him: “If we call you to protect people who are being foreclosed on would you come out for them?” The DHS officer shrugged and said “we are here right now for the people in the building” as he walked away.

What does all of this mean? If you haven’t already read Kevin’s article consider it required reading…

Local Religious Organization Voices Dissapproval of the Eviction of Occupy Buffalo

8:07 am in Uncategorized by Occupy Buffalo

Statement from the Network of Religious Communities with regard to the forcible removal of the Occupy Buffalo site from Niagara Square.

 

Buffalo had a national reputation for its dealings with its branch of the Occupy movement. The Mayor boasted that Buffalo was one place that had “done it right” with regards to the Occupy movement.  That ended at 2:00 am on February 3rd when excessive force was used and needless destruction occurred at the peaceful Occupy Buffalo Site.

The Occupy Buffalo movement acted responsibly, non-violently, and cooperatively with the City of Buffalo.  They cultivated good relations with the police. They negotiated an agreement with the City, which committed them to reimburse the City for costs, vacate the Square when it was needed by others and to leave Niagara Square in good condition when they moved on.

In October of 2011, The Network of Religious Communities Board of Governors issued a statement praising the nonviolence of the Occupy Buffalo people. This month we decry the violence with which the city of Buffalo removed the Occupy people giving them neither time to come to an agreement among themselves or to remove their belongings before they were bull-dozed. This act was completely unnecessary and is unworthy of a city that calls itself  “The City of Good Neighbors.”

The Occupy Movement has brought many inequities and abuses of power to the forefront of the American consciousness including issues of economic justice and corruption in politics. We applaud their continued nonviolence and their dedication to keeping these issues before the public eye. We commit ourselves to ongoing work with the Occupy Movement to promote their call to justice – a call supported by all of the faiths represented by this body.

We strongly object to the actions taken by the city and call upon the city government to behave in a more respectful way towards its citizens. We are deeply disappointed that our city is no longer the city that “got it right.”

Occupy Buffalo and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency

8:26 pm in Uncategorized by Occupy Buffalo

Occupy Buffalo has been attending the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) board meetings for several months. These meetings are used to distribute corporate welfare mostly to companies that are already making a profit for projects that they would do with or without a tax abatement (tax break).

On 2/13 we made the local news for multiple mic checks which demanded an immediate moratorium on all tax abatement deals until the ECIDA holds a town hall meeting to create a process for evaluating which companies qualify for tax incentives. We would like to discuss terms for these tax incentives which would hold companies accountable if they do not create the number of jobs promised. Furthermore, we would like to see clawback clauses written into these deals which would require a payback of all tax incentives if a company abandons the area after getting one of these tax breaks. This would ensure that the taxpayers of Erie County, NY are not shortchanged when a company leaves town.

Our direct action at the ECIDA contributed to the tabling of a $275,000 tax break for the $5.5 million renovation of the Millennium Hotel.

Watch video of the first mic check:

Read local news articles about it here and here.

Myths and Facts About the Feb 2 Occupy Buffalo Eviction

12:14 pm in Uncategorized by Occupy Buffalo

Myths and Facts About the Feb 2 Occupy Buffalo Eviction

MYTH 1: Since Occupy Buffalo has been evicted, the movement is over.
FACT 1: Occupy Buffalo is not going anywhere. We are still in Niagra Square and continue to organize and be active in the community!
General Assemblies are still scheduled for Saturdays at noon, and Mondays & Wednesdays at 7pm at Niagra Square.  There is a calendar of events on our facebook page and our website www.occupybuffalo.org.

Come join us!

MYTH 2: Occupy Buffalo rejected the City’s offer.
FACT 2: We are sorry that we did not make it clear that Occupy Buffalo was unable to come to an agreement with the city due to lack of time to reach consensus. During negotiations Occupy Buffalo had requested more time.  The city refused.  Consequently the inability to reach consensus led to our inability to sign the agreement.  It was not the result of a decision made by Occupy Buffalo.
We operate according to 95% consensus. We do this to ensure that voices in the minority also shape the final outcome. As you can imagine, listening to all voices and working to an agreement takes time. So, why were we unable to sign the agreement proposed by the city? At lest in part because the city only gave us five ours, 7pm-12am, to discuss the new terms the city had “offered” us.
MYTH 3: The City of Buffalo offered Occupy Buffalo a permit until March 8th, thereby giving us a five week extension.
FACT 3: Despite the original agreement’s being renewable for two months, the new agreement proposed by the city had an end date of March 8th.  The city changed both the duration of our agreement and the capability of the agreement to be renewed.
Here is a piece of the original agreement:

The Agreement shall be extended through February 1, 2012 and shall be renewable for additional periods of two months upon compliance with the terms contained herein and continued safe operation within the Square.

MYTH 4: Occupy Buffalo wanted to stay in Niagra Square for an indefinite period of time.
FACT 4: During negotiations Occupy Buffalo asked for more time to come to consensus about a reasonable date to break down the camp.  This request was rejected by city officials during negotiations.
Because we had not had any reason to suspect that the original agreement would not be renewed for two months, we did not have the opportunity to discuss a realistic timeline to implement a smooth transition from encampment.
MYTH 5: Occupy Buffalo felt it owned Niagra Square and would not share with other groups or people.
FACT 5: We make our best effort to welcome all people.  Our original agreement with the city specified that we would leave the park when other groups wanted to use the space without us there.
We had been working to accommodate Winter Fest to their full satisfaction (including fully vacating the park) even while negotiating a new agreement with the city.  During our negotiations we continued to recognize the reasonableness of this part of the agreement, and even after being evicted, we continue to work to clean up and restore the Square.
MYTH 6: The police needed to be sure they had enough force to subdue us if we were resistant.
FACT 6: Occupy Buffalo has a track record for non-violence and the amount of force the City displayed against its own people during a peaceful protest was unwarranted.
See an hour long video of our eviction for yourself:  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20165687
 

The City had no reasonable expectation that we would resist.  Since the beginning of our movement, Oct. 8th, we have always conducted ourselves peacefully and worked with the City, including the police and fire departments, to create a safe and non-violent environment.  Even during the raid, those who chose to be arrested practiced civil disobedience peacefully and non-violently.  Occupy Buffalo will continue to engage in non-violent direct action and to speak truth to power.  If the city changes the approach from one of intimidation towards the people to one of non-violence, then we are open to collaborating with them to work for the common good.

www.occupybuffalo.org