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Note From an Occupier

I have been part of the Occupy Buffalo movement since October 17. One of the features that fascinates me is the cordial relationship we enjoy with the Buffalo Police and Fire Departments, Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the media, and City Hall, in contrast to the constant clashes reported in Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, or even nearby Rochester. We are a peaceful movement, seeking to alter people’s perceptions and illusions about the broken American Dream, alert them to the fact that the 99 percent of us pay taxes whereas the very rich (known as the one percenters) squirrel their money away into tax shelters.

Occupy Buffalo also seeks to abolish corporate personhood, raise the minimum wage, raise the tax rate on those making more than $1 million, and ultimately pass a constitutional amendment banning corporate and union donations to political parties or candidates. We are all about grassroots democracy. Each individual has an equal voice and vote at our daily general assembly meetings, and we’d like to see a constitutional convention to amend the US Constitution.

We are not about anarchy. To the contrary, we are a drug- and alcohol-free zone, and anyone caught doing illegal acts is immediately removed. While we may be referred to as the “neo-hippies,” we enjoy a close cooperation with the police, who trust us to monitor ourselves.

Occupy Buffalo objects to any use of violence, being comprised mainly of pacifist and idealistic young people. I truly believe that other cities can take a page from us on how to conduct themselves in a peaceful, effective manner while at the same time collaborating with the establishment to effect a change from within.

> Steven Norris, Cheektowaga

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