People are protesting!
Okay, I’m a little jaded, since I’ve seen many protests in Albany. But I am sympathetic with the Occupy movement, I think they have some worthwhile messages and are unfairly maligned with the “what is the point” trope. Occupy Albany, formed in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, performed their namesake. They occupied Lafayette and Academy parks, a fart away from the New York State capitol building and Albany city hall.
Occupation began on Friday, with 150-200 protesters gathering in Lafayette Park. Around 5:30pm a general assembly began, a yawn inducing spectacle for the noninvolved. The goings-on are procedural but allow everyone to be heard, which is working for the crowd sizes Occupy Albany is gathering. Assemblies last for an hour or two and decide on specific action plans; the rest of the occupation consists of… occupying.
There’s an interesting twist due to the occupation’s chosen location. Lafayette and Academy park share a contiguous parcel of public land, roughly divided by an old building which is now an Albany city school district office. Lafayette, the westernmost section, is owned by the state, while Academy, easternmost and near the intersection of State and eagle Streets, is owned by the city. An interesting jurisdictional issue for constabulary forces.
Uncertainly ensued. Being warned to vacate state property, Academy Park was solely occupied.There were reports that governor Cuomo’s office strongly encouraged the city to clear the park. This did not happen Friday night, nor Saturday. Tents went up and protesters chanted well into each night.
Day two saw fewer protesters but no less emotion. Those remaining were dedicated. I got there in time for another general assembly, and signs were piled on the ground while members were participating.
Saturday’s assembly drew 100 or so.
I’ve seen plenty of Albany protests and marches, but notable here is diversity. The media narrative seems to paint them as in or just out of college, but age ran the gamut.
The mix was ethnically diverse too, but that’s not a surprise for Albany. We’re a blender anyway.
Again the group was allowed to stay Saturday night with no interference, though there was one altercation. The entire weekend surprisingly lacked police presence. Troopers monitored Lafayette Park Friday night, but after that you’d have to squint to find an officer. Much drum beating and guitar playing ensued.
Sunday was gorgeous, warm for upstate late October, sun so welcome it had to be enjoyed lest it was the last we’d see for the year. The protest was still going strong, though numbers had diminished.
Someone was taping “1%” signs to the benches across the street, I’m not sure if this was one level of irony or multiple.
Even famed local developer Lewis A. Swyer got in the act. I’m not sure this is “other-wise interacting appropriately with the statue” but hey.
A shrine had popped up, this is the season to pray to the apple spirit after all.
But the protest ground on, it seems Occupy Albany has successfully occupied Academy Park, they were not kicked out on Sunday either.
Good luck to those camping overnight, it has been cold, I hope they are prepared. You can see a slidehow of my photos from all three days, in reverse chronological order because why not. There are also lots of other photos on flickr, try Sebastien, Kim D., albanytim, Tim Raab, dwlcx (not sure how to pronounce that), and the Occupy Albany group.