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Buffalo ‘occupiers’ stand their ground

blog by The Canisius Griffin  • 

It’s November and America is still occupied.

Occupiers in Buffalo’s ‘Occupy’ protests are still in good spirits and high health and are determined to change the world we live in.

“We’re down here for everyone,” said Joe Fitzpatrick, an Occupier camped out at the square since Oct. 9. He traveled from Niagara Falls in order to represent the movement.

“People don’t realize we represent them. We represent the people that tell us to get a job as much as we represent the people out here supporting us.

“We [in the United States] have the ability to meet everyone’s basic needs, and we don’t – because it’s not profitable. We meet the needs here [at Occupy].”

Fitzpatrick added that in Niagara Square the people live together as a community and take time to care about what people are concerned about.

“I hope we can get back to respecting human life as a priority before profit and money; that we can actually serve the people,” he said.

Fitzpatrick believes that Occupy has started that conversation in media, despite less coverage than other current events.

“I’m okay with them not covering us,” said another protestor, known as Zany, “as long as they cover other subjects worth covering.”

The protesters thanked the community for their support, as well as the cooperation of the Buffalo Police Department.

Last week, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown decided that he would not seek to end the protests or arrest any participants. Instead, he offered his support, as well as that of the Buffalo police.

“We wouldn’t be here right now without the support of the community,” said Fitzpatrick.

The protesters plan to have a march thanking the Buffalo Police Department for their help and support this weekend.

Though the protesters have many different reasons for participating, they seem to have one common message.

“I’m 57, I have a lot of white hair,” said one protestor. “This country is really messed up.” 

“Don’t regulate every single thing, but look at the wealth gap,” suggested protestor Curt Rotterdam.

“People here are very friendly, very open,” said yet another protestor who lost his job partly due to his attendance at Occupy. “I find it amazing we haven’t gotten kicked out of here.”

For reasons of job security, anonymity is pretty important at the Square.

The protestors say that no one is exactly in charge. The people are divided into various work groups that accomplish various things, such as media consultation, facilitation and comfort for protesters. They have meetings called ‘General Assemblies’ every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m., as well as on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon.

The latest mass-action to be taken by the protesters is withdrawing their money from banks and putting it into Federal Credit Unions. This mass withdrawal will take place on Nov. 5 and the protest will be accompanied by a skit.

“The goal is to make the banks see it and know that we’re serious,” said one of the protestors.

“It’s nice that people are talking about [Occupy,]” he added. “It’s a statement more than anything else.”

By Amanda Gabryszak
The Griffin

TAGGED: amanda gabryszak, canisius college, canisius griffins, local protestors, niagara square, occupy buffalo, occupy wall street

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