The Unshakable Spirit of Occupy Albany
Occupy Albany & Its Unshakable Spirit
Occupy Albany: The Movement Keeps Growing…and Growing
On October 21, 2011 supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City gathered in Lafayette Park to show solidarity. The demonstrations at Wall Street have inspired international protests of wealth inequality and increased support of social democracy. The slogan “We are the 99%” refers to the separation between the majority of people and the majority of wealth—about 37% of which (in 2007) belonged to the remaining 1% of people. The gap holds to a widening trend.
The night of the twenty-first represents the beginning of a struggle between politicians and law-enforcers in Albany and the fourth General Assembly (GA) in Albany. Nearly 200 protesters assembled for the initial rally. After camping out overnight, violating the city’s 11pm curfew, the demonstration faced threats from a pressured Mayor Jerry Jennings and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who openly exhibits a dislike for the movement. There were no arrests that first night.
Law enforcers resisted the pressure to crack down on violators of the curfew, fearing that doing so might result in rioting and violence, especially since the crowd was filled with the elderly and children. Police officers falsely reported that the peaceful crowd was moved to the sidewalks so as not to trespass. Albany County’s District Attorney David Soares refused to prosecute “unless there [was] property damage or injuries to law enforcement.”
In the meantime, Albany hosted a series of demonstrations in addition to GA gatherings: the People of Color caucus on October 26 (and on November 2), the Protest Governor Cuomo & the Millionaires Tax March on October 27 (which moved into the Capitol building), Occupy Your State Capital day on October 29 in Academy Park, an Interfaith Vigil for a Fair Economy on November 4, and a variety of other events.
The protesters showed a desire for endurance as they slept in tents in the snow and prepared themselves for the long haul. However, on Saturday, November 12, State Police arrested at least 24 individuals involved in the assembly for trespassing on the state-owned Lafayette Park. On Sunday, 13 more people were arrested. But the DA’s office reported that the charges would be dismissed after the activists appear in Albany City Court on November 21 and 22.
The group followed a 39-year-old anthropologist by the name of Bradley Russell off of the city-owned Academy Park for a peaceful flash mob into Lafayette Park. They were warned three times by state authorities before being arrested. The dismissal of charges marks a triumph for protesters; they see it as a strong message of resilience to Governor Cuomo.
The most recent update includes the Upstate Convergence of the Occupy movements from Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and others on November 17. The occupation reaches its one month mark this weekend; a demonstration is slated to protest “one week of arrests,” activists state. Frequent updates can be found at www.occupyalbany.org and www.twitter.com/occupy_albany. Also check out blog posts from the Occupiers at blog.timesunion.com/occupyalbany.
–Kate Smith is an Assistant Editor for The Free George.
The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.
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