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Super Protest Sunday

While many in Buffalo were making last-minute beer runs, turning their Tom Brady voodoo dolls into pincushions, and nostalgizing about the days when Buffalo made it to the Showcase Showdown, many others were defying the cold, and defying the president.

When I first heard about the “No Ban, No Wall” protest against Trump’s immigration policies, in a tweet, I had no idea how big it would be. I began to get an inkling Sunday morning when, on my way home from Mass, I saw posters for the event in many of the storefronts on Allen Street. But it really hit me when, walking down Connecticut Street to Prospect Park, I could hear cheering from as far away as Horsefeathers. I also noticed parking along the street was unusually heavy for a Sunday afternoon. The size of the crowd was clear as I got closer to Niagara Street. YUGE! Numbers were easily in the four figures.

As I crossed the street, I saw a couple of familiar faces greeting arrivals — Rev. Kirk Laubenstein of the Coalition for Economic Justice, and Nate Buckley of Burning Books. I also saw The Public publisher Geoff Kelly and others I know. But I was especially impressed that participation wasn’t limited to the folks I know in the Progressive, activist community. It was an extraordinarily diverse crowd, reflected not just in skin color, but also accents, clothing, and languages used on protest signs.

I think that diversity was a reflection of the protest being held on the west side, rather than a more typical location like Niagara Square or Bidwell Parkway. Over decades, the center of gravity for Buffalo’s newest arrivals has shifted from Cold Spring and the Fruit Belt to the Old First Ward to Polonia to The Hooks. Even though we find immigrant and refugee families all over the city, the west side, with dozens of languages spoken, is now the center of gravity.

Although there were elected officials speaking, including Mayor Brown, Assemblyman Ryan, Senator Kennedy, and Congressman Higgins, it was also refreshing to hear from speakers I’d neither heard of, nor heard from, before. One very well-spoken man is a Burmese refugee of Karen ethnicity, who is working on a Ph.D. at UB and helping other Karen refugees get acclimated to life in America. Another well-spoken and highly educated man is one of the “Buffalo 25,” arrested in the Don Tequila immigration raids last year.

It was a very lively and boisterous scene, but completely peaceful. I saw at least a dozen police officers, but they stood back from the crowd and many of them were chatting with the protesters. A group was offering free food, which smelled delicious and tempting, but I had lunch waiting for me at home. I did succumb to an offer of an Oreo from a couple handing them out. I believe their sign said something about eating Oreos together promoting peace and understanding between people, and who can argue with that? Although it was frustrating that, due to the cold, I couldn’t twist the Oreo open to eat the filling first — you know, the only proper method.

I mentioned that Congressman Higgins was present, but Western New York’s other congressman was not. I did run across a couple of protesters with signs calling him out. They told me that they call his office daily, asking for the congressman to hold a town hall meeting, but so far haven’t had any luck.

So far, 2017 is looking like it will be a year of protest. If your nostalgia goes beyond the days of the Buffalo Bills going to the Super Bowl, to the 1960s, this may be your year. Buffalo’s civic gathering places may be hearing more defiant voices raised than at any time since that turbulent decade.

For more coverage of the protest, check your favorite news outlet, and social media. On Twitter, check these hashtags: #NoBanNoWall, #KeepBuffaloOpen, and #OurNY

Written by RaChaCha

RaChaCha

RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he’s put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he’s not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): “Ra Cha Cha” is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn’t you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He’s a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don’t really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that’s what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary “Chill the Fill” campaign to save Rochester’s old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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  • Michael DiPasquale

    I stand with everyone that is pushing back against Trump’s refugee ban. Diversity = Strength.

    • OldFirstWard

      Yeah, that strength will only last while you belong to the majority. In a few decades when you become part of the minority lets see where you stand. Be careful what you wish for.

      • G Orty

        More diversity subverts “minority and majority”. If good people get their way, there will be neither. Minority/majority thinking restricts cooperation, is the primary reason for current conflict, and is the target of this protest against the travel ban, ridiculous wall, etc. To your comment about coming decades, why do you think those few who you alienate in groups by themselves now would be less sympathetic to others than you or I are, and would create a worse world for you? That fear of others only reveals an insecurity in your own capacity as a human. Sad.

        • OldFirstWard

          You confuse alienation with assimilation. The refusal of one creates the other. The world has a long history of failure of human capacity. All it takes is one rogue leader to exploit a tiny crevice. You live with a false sense of security. 911 should come as a lesson to the simple vulnerabilities in the modern world. People carry grudges for centuries.

          It has been said that the couple dozen pilgrims who landed in Plymouth have over 30 million descendants today.

          • BlackRockLifer

            False sense of security? Right wing extremists have murdered more innocent Americans than Islamist terrorists since 2002.
            In fact Islamist terrorists have carried out 9 attacks killing 45 while right wing terrorists have carried out 18 attacks killing 48.
            We should be vetting and deporting right wing extremists, instead we have one of their leaders advising the president.

          • OldFirstWard

            I never took you for a hater of Americans, by your veiled reference, white Americans.

          • BlackRockLifer

            If you equate hating white supremacists with hating America or white Americans you are delusional.

          • OldFirstWard

            Maybe because I’ve never heard you defend ANY Americans with white skin color. When it comes to white people all you think about are supremacists, racists, bigots and extremists. Liberal code speak for white people. You lump over 60 million voters of Trump as bad people. Your neighbors must be horrible or non-white. If you ever have something good to say about a white person other than cheerleader nod to a topic on this site, please let me know.

          • BlackRockLifer

            Defend them against what? I was unaware white America was under seige. I did miss the war on Christmas though so anything is possible.
            We can agree 60 million Trump voters aren’t all bad people. Trump voters break down into three basic groups, the hardcore racist haters, the rural poor who are desperate for change and the rubes that believed he was a real populist.
            My neighbors are mostly great people of all types and I do indeed like white people, after all my wife and kids are white and as far as I know I’m white but hey that could be an “alternative fact” just saying.

          • BufChester

            Just to be clear, BRL only said “Right wing extremists have murdered more innocent Americans…” He didn’t say anything about race.

  • OldFirstWard

    Trump predicted that the Patriots would win by 8 points. Another win for Trump. How is that protest going?

    • BlackRockLifer

      Pretty well actually, Trump has awakened the sleeping giant of Americans that still care about honesty, integrity and decency. It’s only a matter of time now until this vile vulgar serial liar and con man is held accountable and exposed as an incompetent fraud.

      • OldFirstWard

        The election awakened the sleeping giant of Americans that care about the direction and zeitgeist of this country. But you probably won’t see them protesting to much. They are busy working and attending schools and colleges to improve the lives of themselves and their families, and to improve the communities that they live in.

        • BlackRockLifer

          The election of Barack Obama awakened the sleeping giant of racism, bigotry and ignorance.
          Donald Trump rode that wave of ignorance and hate into the White House.
          As for the protestors, I have been to several as have my wife and adult children. Contrary to your Trump like false claim the protestors are our co-workers, students and those invested in their communities.

        • BufChester

          That’s a standard lie that is spread about those protesting against Trump – that the protests or unemployed slackers (or that they’re highly motivated professional demonstrators, but that’s not what OFW is saying).

          I’m a professional with a graduate degree and full-time job. Like many people in similar jobs I have Saturday and Sundays off, so that explains how I can attend weekend rallies, which incidentally I hope will improve my life and that of my family and community by blunting, or even turning back the Trump/Republican agenda.

          At these rallies I have recognized a number of people from my professional and social life ALL of whom are fully employed, productive members of the community.

          I wish those who want to celebrate the Trump/Republican agenda, would do so without resorting to patently false allegations about the Resistance.

      • OldFirstWard
        • BufChester

          It’s not _my_ idea of integrity and decency. Even White Supremacists should not be physically attacked in the street.

          Drawing a parallel between the actions of the assailant and the other millions of people who have protested the Republican agenda over the last two weeks is intellectually dishonest.

        • Pig_Lightning

          Punching fascists like this guy is a good thing.

          • Doug Wallis

            So should feminist fascists be punched and assaulted? What about latino racist fascists (laRaza…aka the race) or Asian fascists aka Maoists or African American racist fascists like black lives matters or leftist social justice warrior fascists particularly those claiming false rape and rioting and preventing free speech and free association on campus? Should they be punched too? What about Islamic fascists that push gay people off buildings, engage in honor killings, pour battery acid on women who refuse sex, participate in Teharush (gang rape), behead priests, run over families with a speeding truck? Should Islamic racist fascists be beaten up or just whites and Christians and men?

  • Ra Cha Cha

    UPDATE: Multiple media reports put crowd size at 2,000. Police reported neither arrest nor incident.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    will trade 1 Chris Collins for 1 unvetted and unknown refugee. F*ck Chris Collins

    • BUFFALO MAN

      why say that? Chris Collins has proved to be a real winner and overachiever, and now he’s working for us. He’s what we want, a real man with true qualifications. Why trade that for a potential terrorist? who’s side are you on matt?

      • Matt Marcinkiewicz

        Overachiever sounds about right. That implies idiocy

        • BUFFALO MAN

          yeah, yours

          • Matt Marcinkiewicz

            Nah, buddy, my IQ was 163 at last check

          • Matt Marcinkiewicz

            when you describe someone as an ‘overachiever’, you’re saying they’ve outperformed expectations. It’s a backhanded compliment. Understood, ‘BUFFALO MAN’?

  • BUFFALO MAN

    OK children, the adults are back in charge, go home and remember to color in your books with your crayons, you will feel much better. Please respect others and no need for your foul language. God Bless America!

    • Johnny Pizza

      The old people are back in charge, and they’ll destroy what’s left of the US before slowly dying off and leaving young Americans to sort out the mess.

  • BUFFALO MAN

    go home punky foul mouthed kids, the adults are back in charge.

    • Rand503

      hahahhah!

  • BUFFALO MAN

    After reading these disgusting posts, I thank God I’m not a liberal.

    • Ra Cha Cha

      Definitely check out the ARTWalk in Rochester. It links several cultural institutions in the Neighborhood of the Arts.

      But: I’m not sure Rochester is the kind of place people go in search of great steak.

  • Doug Wallis

    I support Trump. I support the wall with mexico. I support the 120d moratorium from the Obama 7 terrorist countries. I support a moratorium on immigration and refugee resettlement. I support ending federal support for sanctuary cities and for colleges/universities that do not allow free speech and whose protests are discriminatory against white men or Christians. I support an end to financial aid and student loans to the entirety of the humanities and social sciences programs as they are nothing but Marxist fascist anarchists who will never be able to get a job.

    • BufChester

      I oppose everything you support.

      • Wally Balls

        Most children would oppose that.

    • Jeff Brown

      The hell is a “Marxist fascist anarchist”? Is that similar to a fundamentalist Christian atheist?

    • Katie7

      In other words you are groping your pussy as you post. You support a pig, a fascist, a racist and a man who is a blithering idiot in orange face paint

  • OldFirstWard

    Speaking of Connecticut St., as I remember attending the Italian Festival when it was a yearly event on the street before being moved to Hertel Ave. So I hear today that it is being moved to the Outer Harbor this summer.

    I also hear that the Italians are being accused of being racist because of the lack of diversity in the food stands. Maybe that’s one reason why they are being exiled to the Outer Harbor.

    • Doug Wallis

      OMG shocking. Too many Italians cooking Italian food at an Italian festival.

      • OldFirstWard

        I think it was a few years ago that the festival organizers decided to get rid of food stands that were not ethnic Italian. They wanted to return the festival more to the roots of Italian heritage. Some complained that it was bigotry and racist not to include others. More recently some of the grumbling may be that it may have been offensive to the Muslim merchants opening stores on Hertel, and that the festival was attracting too many east side kids. I heard that from a few people, including business owners in the area.

    • BlackRockLifer

      Sounds like fake news

  • bburbs

    I am surprised that this story has not been deleted yet.

    • BufChester

      I don’t ever remember BRO deleting a story.

  • BUFFALO MAN

    Seems President Trump treats the presidency like its a real job.

    • BufChester

      What does that even mean?

      • Wally Balls

        I would presume that he campaigned on issues that average Americans felt strongly about, won, was inaugurated and then set out to do exactly what he said he was going to do.

        • Johnny Pizza

          Well seeing as most of what he has done is sign toothless executive orders I would argue he really hasn’t done anything. He signed a piece of paper that said we’ll build a wall. Unfortunately Trump is finding out that we have a three part government that doesn’t grant him the unilateral authority to make such decision.

          • Wally Balls

            Well, on the bright side, he’s signed LESS executive orders that mean nothing than Obama did in the same amount of time.

            There’s no such thing as a “Muslim Ban.” You snowflakes need to stop touting that phrase. It makes you look childish and extra snowflake-y. Anyone can file a lawsuit — it means nothing other than an attention grab. Its been a law that every President has used since the 1950’s. Bush used it less than Obama, and with the numbers in place for 2017, Trump will also have used it less than Obama. Heck, even Carter did it and he’s more of a bleeding heart than anyone.

            “Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

            As far as the wall goes, I think we should sponsor the bricks, like a legacy wall. Every American gets their name on one.

            Lastly, you know little about Dodd Frank. While I agree with you that their needs to be some sort of watchdog overseeing Wall Street, it was an awful law that had the unintended consequence of crushing small banks and credit unions — the very type of lending institutions used by those “middle class Americans” you speak of.

          • BufChester

            That reminds me of a joke I saw:

            Trump: “I’ve signed less executive orders than Obama.”

            Pence: “No, fewer.”

            Trump: “Mike, don’t call me that in public yet.”

        • Katie7

          Nah, hasn’t done anything and could care less. Only really cares about money and the trump brand (crap that it is) He’s a blithering idiot

          • Wally Balls

            I’m really glad you commented on something from 5 months ago. Only proves moreover that anti-Trumpers don’t have an agenda, they just like to whine.