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Protesters call for changes in Buffalo's power structure

Mike Desmond/WBFO

Dozens of protesters Thursday said they will evict Council members and want to evict the Buffalo Niagara Partnership for its role in the area's power structure. The gathering began its call in City Hall before moving to the HealthNow building.

Members of the OUR CITY Coalition went into the City Hall lobby, put on grey headbands and loudly objected to city government and delivered eviction notices to some Council members.

For Sage Green, eviction isn't just a reason to protest, it's personal.

"When I was six years old, a sheriff knocked on our door and took our home, through foreclosure," Green recalled. 

"My parents split up when I was three and we didn't know that the house wasn't being paid."

The demonstrators then marched to the HealthNow building and took over that lobby to protest the Buffalo Niagara Partnership which is a tenant on an upper floor.

"For too long you have acted as though this is your city and we're just living in it," activist John Washington called out, directing his words toward the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

"The truth is: This is our city and we have every right to it. In our city, we prioritize people over profit, now and always. Evict the BNP!"

The coalition says the Partnership is the center of the city's power structure and members of the Council do as they are told.

The city's growing gentrification sits at the center of the Coalition's concerns.

"Buffalo since I came here in the last 30 years has not moved for any advancement for people of color. Okay! We're still living in poverty," said activist Luz Velez.

"You gotta understand something, you're not going to push me out because I don't have enough money."

The protest followed Wednesday's second annual State of OUR CITY event. Some 200 people reportedly attended the session to outline concerns over housing, education and racial equality. 


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.