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Peace Marcher Beaten and Maced by NFTA Police

Last Friday’s peace march in downtown Buffalo ended in tears for activist Nate Buckley, courtesy of a dose of pepper spray administered directly into his eyes. Bruises, too, courtesy of the officer’s nightstick.

Buckley was one of 70 or so peace activists who assembled in Lafayette Square Friday afternoon to march, sing, and make speeches protesting the country’s wars at home and abroad. They marched to City Hall, to the FBI office on Niagara, to the federal building on Elmwood, then down Chippewa to Main Street, finishing outside the M&T Bank building. The protesters chose the bank as their endpoint because, as organizers explained in a statement several days later, “the huge financial conglomerate has made substantial investments in ‘defense,’ providing material support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya.”

Buckley says that the number of marches had dwindled to 30 or 40 by the time they reached the bank’s plaza, where there were more speakers and more singing and chanting of anti-war slogans. A bank employee asked the marchers to step off bank property, and Buckley says they complied—but not quickly enough for the employee, apparently, because she called the police. Several NFTA police officers soon arrived.

One, named Russo, was immediately confrontational, according to Buckley. Another, named Capozzi, was more reasonable and tried to defuse what became a tense situation.

When one of the more confrontational officers took out his Taser, Buckley says he and other protesters began to walk away on the sidewalk, but an officer tackled Buckley and dragged him back on to bank property. There, Buckley says, he was struck with a nightstick.

Video of Buckley’s arrest (which you can watch on AV Daily at shows one of the officers fumbling in his belt for his pepper spray while Russo holds Buckley, who is standing calmly against a wall, offering no apparent resistance. The crowd is chanting, “Let him go!” The officer with the pepper spray, who is standing behind Buckley, reaches over Buckley’s head and sprays him directly in the eyes.

Eventually Buckley was handcuffed and taken away in a squad car. In the car, Buckley says, one of the officers said that he should have just shot Buckley in the head. Another officer agreed, adding, “And I’d sleep like a baby.”

NFTA Police did not return a call requesting comment on the incident.

Buckley has been charged with four class A misdemeanors (inciting to riot, riot in the second degree, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration), a class B misdemeanor (unlawful assembly), and six violations (one count of trespass and five counts of disorderly conduct). Two other demonstrators were arrested as well. They will be arraigned in City Court, Part 2 (50 Delaware Avenue) at 9:30am on Friday, April 15.

Tax day.

geoff kelly

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