Occupy Buffalo continue cooperative relationship with city
Arrests of protestors involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement are on the rise across the nation, but here in Buffalo, protestors are enjoying a very "cooperative" relationship with the City and police. Occupy Buffalo Spokesperson Cory Bartos said the local movement is a model for the rest of the country.
"We have done our best to be completely open and communicative with the City, both the administration and the police department and other agencies, and really, keeping the communication open is the most important thing because this will eliminate problems before they start," said Bartos.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown agrees. He tells WBFO News the City has been having regular meetings with the protestors to address any concerns as they come up, and so far, those concerns have been very minor.
"The group has been very cooperative, they've been very professional, they've been very good to work with, and we believe it is their right as Americans to be able to have their freedom of speech and that's what they're doing," said Mayor Brown.
Bartos said the group has been receiving donations to help sustain their occupation.
"The community has generously been donating things like tents--weather-proof tents for the winter--as well as space heaters and other materials. Little old ladies have been knitting blankets for us to stay warm through the winter. People are dropping off things like chili--vegan chili--so that we can stay warm. So we're being taken care of by the community. In fact, we believe the community supports us 99%," said Bartos.
"We don't think it's been harmful to the City's image at all. There have been a number of conventions that have come into town. People are aware of the activity from other cities. No one has had any negative commentary," said Mayor Brown.
Occupy Buffalo has been using the City's electricity and wi-fi, and there have been concerns about permanent damage to the grass at Niagara Square.
Mayor Brown said the protestors are welcome to stay at Niagara Square in front of City Hall as long as they deem necessary.
The City will continue renewing their permit.