Saturday, February 4, 2012

OWS: Occupy Buffalo Eviction

First published: 

WeSpeakNews: India 




 
On February 2, 2012, OccupyBuffalo was forcefully evicted from Niagara Square in Buffalo, New York after peacefully occupying since October of 2011. 

This eviction was a result of a disagreement between OccupyBuffalo and the
City of Buffalo.

Originally, the City offered to extend a prior approved joint agreement from 2011 to occupy until March 8th, 2012. OccupyBuffalo wanted the agreement to run until the end of March in order to find another location and to serve the needs of the community. 





Occupiers had until Wednesday [Feb 2] night as a deadline to leave, after 4 months of peaceful occupation. The occupation wished to further discuss this with the city. OccupyBuffalo denied the sudden and unexplained choice by the city to vacate dependent upon the cities actions to not renew the prior contract until end of March.


The First Amendment of the Constitution provides for 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'"


That is exactly what
OccupyBuffalo did. That is not what occurred.


The permit to stay [that need not be obtained under the First Amendment yet was] in the square expired at midnight. Crews [Buffalo Police Department, bulldozers, dump trucks, and the SWAT team in riot gear] moved in to dismantle all structures in Niagara Square. 

The City and OccupyBuffalo have always worked together. 

This is a model occupation.





The raid occurred around 2:30am Thursday. 10 were arrested. All equipment, save for one or two items, were destroyed.  I watched live on Ustream in abject horror. 

I thought: I cannot believe this is occurring in my city.


This abuse of power was an immense shock as witnessed on Ustream by BootsofSolidarity because it occurred when people were sleeping. Peaceful resistance technique was again taught [on video] by a seasoned community leader when the raid began. It is heard on the stream: "The Buffalo Police Department said they will not destroy anything." 



Occupiers were also educated on possible arrest, meaning if they did not wish to take a chance, then to go across the street and for those that chose to exercise their legal, civil and human rights, then to stay put, peacefully.

There were no misunderstandings within the occupation.

SWAT Team members and Buffalo Police officers moved in on OccupyBuffalo with dump trucks, bulldozers and scooped the tents, equipment and all private and personal property into the dump trucks to be picked up at a "location" and sorted through.

Nearly everything was destroyed. This was not part of the agreement to vacate. Occupiers were simply told they may need to vacate. 

OccupyBuffalo has melded into a community of teach ins, education, free food for the hungry, information on war, diversity of all faith, government, politics and true democracy. 




Before this illegal raid, OccupyBuffalo was and is currently nominated for Top 20 out of 157 nominated occupations for a "community activist" award through FDL Action, coordinated by Jane Hamsher [HuffPost, Alternt, American Prospect, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and producer of Natural Born Killers.]

Mayor Brown told Channel 2 News there was nothing but positive discussions between the two parties and: "As part of their contract there is the potential for renewal, but again we are talking. The talks are going very well. There has been a very positive communication with the City's Law Department, special events division and the occupiers from the very beginning and we feel that this will go forward in a very positive fashion."


Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda stated: "We did not anticipate violence but we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best."


When speaking to Channel 2 News, Mayor Brown said the peaceful protest in Buffalo has been a model for other protest movements around the county. He told a reporter "there is a chance the protesters will be allowed to stay."  


In court on Thursday morning [VIDEO HERE] the 10 arrested [that never needed to be] were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, yet dismissed with restrictions: no occupying in a 3 mile radius to Niagara Square. 




The City has offered an abandoned house, at this point, to the occupation.

Why was the house not offered before the raid and arrests? Before the destruction of private property? Is that any different than what government bodies and police forces blame occupiers for doing?  Destructing governmental and city property by occupying it?

OccupyWallStreet has recognized this violation, as well as the world.


OccupyBuffalo will continue with or without a place to occupy in order to continue to serve the community as they have been.


Gina Panzarella of Buffalo NY states quite clearly:
"We are not Radicals. We are a very creative, intelligent group of diverse individuals who are trying to make better lives for ourselves, our children, our families and our neighbors. We want to expose the corruption that has taken out the middle class while serving as many as we can for our community."









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