Tag Archives: protest

Wisconsin

18 Feb
The state capitol of Madison, Wisconsin

Image via Wikipedia

I posted this as my Facebook status last night, but thought I’d repeat it here, verbatim.  If you haven’t seen what’s been going on in Wisconsin, click here.

Conflicted about Wisconsin. OTOH, I don’t think state workers should be scapegoated & punished for a state’s entire fiscal crisis. OTOH, I am fundamentally opposed to the notion of state employee unions. I mean, if you’re the masses’ employee, why do you need protection from the masses? The point of unions is to protect workers against unfairness caused by capitalist greed. I guess Wisconsin is proving me wrong.

Sliwa’s Protest: Why it’s Different

28 May

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I disagree with Curtis Sliwa on the substance of his protest / radio stunt yesterday at the 2010 New York State Democratic Convention. I don’t think Andrew Cuomo became Attorney General or the gubernatorial nominee solely by virtue of his father’s identity, nor do I think it’s a “coronation” – not like 2006 when Eliot Spitzer had a real, qualified, serious challenger in Tom Suozzi.

Suozzi, incidentally, was present for Cuomo’s speech, but declined to comment on it.

What I do agree with is the method in which Sliwa mounted his protest.

He was funny.

And that’s no small feat.

Oftentimes people who engage in political protest believe they need to be serious, earnest, and humorless. But I think that turns people off. Carl Paladino is “mad as hell” but has absolutely no sense of humor. Not about himself, not about the state, not about his campaign – about nothing (except, according to him, horse porn and racist jokes).

Curtis Sliwa came in character. He was funny. He got his point across. He made a splash. That’s how you protest – show people that you have a sense of humor. That way, even if people disagree with you, they’ll be laughing – not angry. And if they’re laughing, they’ll be more likely to listen.

The Protest

13 Aug

There were about 100 people protesting Brian Higgins and Communism and Eugenics and the government having access to your bank account and the government killing your granny and that Obamacare = Canadian Medicare and Nancy Pelosi and stuff.  The only person making much sense there was Rus Thompson, whom I interviewed (but of course the audio got screwed up, so no link).  Rus made the point that Higgins was ducking town halls because he had already made up his mind.  He had a point that Higgins should at least listen to his constituents.  I didn’t determine how many of the protesters were constituents.

There were only about 40 pro health-care protesters.  I crossed the street and joked with them generally that they were being hardly as raucous as the group across the street.  One woman said something like, “it’s not about being raucous, it’s about health care”.  Yeah, I realize that.  I was making a joke.  Lighten up for God’s sake.

But the real crowd pleaser seemed to be Congressman Brian Higgins, a well-respected guy who is liked in WNY and has a special knack for getting warring factions of the Democratic Party to get together behind him.  The headcount inside was an easy 350 people.

Marc Odien shot this video, and comments here as to why he cut it like he did:

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Buffalo Wednesday: Rally in Solidarity with the People of Iran

16 Jun

From the Buffalo News:

About 50 Buffalo-area Iranian-Americans plan to gather from 8 to 10 a.m. wednesday outside Buffalo City Hall to support Iranians protesting the recent outcome of the presidential election.

“They are killing innocent people,” said Sherry, a rally organizers from Amherst, who did not want to reveal her last name because she is a political refugee from Iran who still has family there.

“I am very concerned about the human rights issue,” she said today. “We already know they’ve arrested a lot of people.”

The largest anti-government demonstrations since the revolution of 1979 have been under way in Iran.

Reminder: Red Light Camera Protest Today

21 May

As heard on Shredd & Ragan, there will be a good, old-fashioned demonstration protesting the installation of red light cameras in Buffalo. Why? Because everyone knows they’re not about safety, they’re first and foremost about revenue enhancement.

The cameras themselves are installed and operated by a private firm in Arizona. The deal Yonkers cut was that the city gets $15 from every $50 ticket – the camera operator pockets the rest. Knowing Buffalo, our deal will likely be the same or worse. Or else they’ll have more expensive tickets. The entire process is ripe for malfeasance, including ticketing of rights on red, manipulation of the timing of yellow lights to maximize return, and it should be noted that Mayor Byron Brown somehow believes that the City of Buffalo will earn as much, if not more, from red light cameras (about $2 million per year) than the city of Los Angeles.

It will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2009 between 3pm – 7pm on Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall.

There’s also a petition here. Learn more at Shredd & Ragan’s red light protest page.

100 to 3

22 Feb

This is such heartening news.

UPDATE: The Buffalo News has posted video. They do not permit you to embed for some reason. This is unfortunate, as the videos have Buffalo News branding all over them and would be graphical advertisements for the paper and its website. It would be embedded right here, as a matter of fact. Oh, well.

While all week the media wrung its hands over whether to notify the public that the most hateful monsters from the Phelps family were planning on descending on Western New York, people organized to counterprotest.

Sure, Phelps and his band of imbeciles crave attention, but regular folks, when threatened with Phelps’ brand of hate speech, have a right no know they’re coming, and to appropriately react.

And that’s just what they did.

The Buffalo News reports that 100 regular Western New Yorkers from throughout the area came to the corner of Goodrich & Clarence Center to make sure that the Phelps cretins cannot be seen or heard, and to make sure they’re outnumbered.

Phelps’ group had a grand total of three idiots holding signs about God hating someone. Fail.

[Phelps’] demonstration was intended to coincide with what the hate group thought would be a community prayer service for victims of the crash being held at Zion Lutheran Church, just two blocks from where the protesters gathered. However, church officials said they were holding normal Sunday services.

“Hatred in the name of Jesus is a despicable thing,” said Zion Lutheran Pastor Randy Milleville.

The counterprotests took many forms, and included individuals from across Western New York, as well as groups including Vietnam Veterans Legacy Club and OUTspoken For Equality, an area gay rights advocacy group.

Joe and Marilyn Ruszala of Hamburg held homemade signs along the side of Clarence Center Road.

“I’m not standing for this in my neck of the woods,” Marilyn Ruszala said. “This doesn’t belong anywhere, and if no one stands up they’ll get away with it.”

Her husband added, “Something just enrages you to the point where you’ve got to do something. You just couldn’t sit home and do nothing.”

Autumn Fiscus, 16, a member of Zion Lutheran, painted a sign with acrylic paints and candle wax. On the opposite side of the sign, she painted Bible verses she said contradicted the Westboro protesters’ anti-homosexual beliefs.

I am proud to be a resident of Clarence. I am proud to be a resident of Western New York. I am proud to call myself a Buffalonian. I am proud that my community came out in such huge numbers to show Phelps’ hateful bastards that neither they nor their message is welcome here.

If anyone has pictures, please let me know.

Sunday in Clarence

21 Feb

Preferably, you’ll be home listening to Hardline with Hardwick than participating in this or this.

The designated protest area, as set up by the town and State Police, is the corner of Clarence Center & Goodrich.

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That corner is over a block away from the Zion Lutheran church itself. Therefore, the town as crafted a time, place & manner restriction on the Phelps group so that memorial service attendees can come and go without ever seeing these monsters. All you have to do is approach on Clarence Center Road from the East, accessing it via Kraus or Strickler Roads, and you never have to see the corner at Goodrich.

If counterprotesters come to town, come and act as a human shield. No showiness, no angels – just a quiet line of people blocking the Phelps monsters from eyeshot. IMHO, the angel thing battles a spectacle with a spectacle.

And if you do decide to come, please read and abide by the instructions listed here.

The Westboro Baptist Monsters (UPDATED)

18 Feb

UPDATE: If you arrived at this post via link from another site, please go here. The designated protest area is far enough away from the Zion Lutheran Church that there is a way for attendees to come without ever seeing or hearing the Phelps monsters.

UPDATE: I spoke with town officials this morning and have concluded based on that conversation that, at least as far as the Clarence memorial is concerned, we want to avoid a circus from developing anywhere near the Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center.

I don’t know the answer as to permitting, but reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on demonstrations pass constitutional muster and are being looked at. If the Westboro Baptist imbeciles are required to limit their demonstration to the soccer fields at Clarence Center & Kraus, and required to use G-rated language on their pickets, that’d be swell. As long as they’re nowhere near Zion Lutheran, that, too, would be swell.

As despicable as Westboro Baptist is, it does not serve the interests of the community or respect the mourners and victims to have a confrontation within eye or earshot. But if they’re shunted to some remote area of the town, nowhere near the church, then I’d be down for standing before them, protesting their hatred, and standing for the victims, for the town, and for my neighbors.

Syracuse.com reported, via WNYMedia.net:

Buffalo, NY — Members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., who are known for picketing the funerals of U.S. troops, are planing to protest two memorial services planned for the victims of Flight 3407, the commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo.

The group plans to picket a morning community prayer service at the Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center, and an afternoon memorial service for Alison Des Forges at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Buffalo. Both services are scheduled to take place Sunday.

Westboro Baptist Church is known for its anti-gay message and its picketing of funerals for members of the armed services killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The controversial church says God is punishing America because of what church members consider the nation’s permissive attitude toward gays and lesbians.

This Sunday, these sick, horrific people whose stock in trade is to terrorize the grieving, expect to disrupt memorial services for the victims of flight 3407? If 10 of these animals show up, we should have 100 people there to make sure that their signs cannot be seen and their yells cannot be heard. I don’t want these people in WNY. I especially don’t want these people in Buffalo or Clarence Center.

Then again, that just gives them the attention they want.

On Sunday at 10am, they’ll be at the Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center, 2 blocks from the crash site.

On Sunday at 1:45, they’ll be at St. Joseph’s Church at 3275 Main Street in Buffalo near UB South campus.

The “God hates Fags” people – do we ignore them? Do we counterprotest and shout them down? Do we just set up a respectful cordon so that they cannot be seen or heard by memorial attendees?

You Think You've Seen This Town Clear Through

9 May

In follow-up to the previous post, wherein I describe the time-wastefulness of the City Council in condemning a private citizen, I present to you this tidbit from Artvoice’s Geoff Kelly.

You see, Mr. Kelly wanted to attend a public hearing yesterday afternoon at City Hall in the City of Buffalo, New York, United States of America. One supposes, given such a moniker, and given such an address, that accommodations would be made for the public to actually attend that hearing.

But hold on – this is the Buffalo of Steve Casey, Byron Brown, and other Pigeonistas – people for whom politics is about power and silence. People who pander to voters during election cycles and then shut them out once power is attained.

What happened? The public hearing for the 2008-2009 proposed budget for the City of Buffalo, which taxpayers were ostensibly invited to attend, and where they were supposedly permitted to speak, took place yesterday at City Hall at 5:30 pm. How progressive that the hearing was held after 5:00 pm, so that people could attend after work.

Problem is – City Hall was locked.

I arrived at 5:40 and found every door to City Hall locked. Seriously. This sucks, I thought. Then: But at least its’s fodder for a column.

So I hung around, pering in the door, ringing the bell that surely does not work, waiting for someone to leave. At about 5:45pm I was joined by a news crew from Channel 4. We tried calling people we knew inside, but everyone was gone for the day — or in Council Chambers, attending the “public” hearing that the public was unable to attend, because all the doors were locked.

At about 5:50pm, Inspections, Permits and Economic Development Commissioner Rich Tobe exited the building but let the door close behind him before I could shout out to hold it open. “Sorry, I can’t get back in now,” he said. I told him I was trying to attend a public hearing up in Council Chambers. He agreed that locking the doors on the evening of such a hearing was curious. But not, he thought, unusual.

Nor did Deputy Mayor Steve Casey seem to consider it strange that the doors were locked, as the Channel 4 team and I raced to the elevators at 6pm, when we finally slipped in the door behind an exiting bureaucrat. “Hurry up,” he said, “it’s just about over.”

Right he was: In the absence of any “public” in the public hearing, the Council had rolled two hearings into one and wrapped the whole thing up by 6:10pm. Exactly one person had signed up to speak. Everyone in Council Chambers was on the public payroll.

Afterward, Delaware District Councilmember Mike LoCurto summed up the hearing for me: a whole lot of nothing. He too was unsurprised to learn the doors had been locked. They had been locked during the previous day’s public hearing as well, he said.

Democracy is dying in Buffalo. It’s up to the people to fight to get it back.