Evicted, Occupy Albany movement regroups
ALBANY -- Since its rough eviction from a park near the state Capitol on the first day of winter, the Occupy Albany movement has regrouped out of a storefront a few blocks away, where members meet and organize protests and marches to help correct what they consider American democracy bent to favor the rich.
The small office on a downtown street of mostly residential brownstones has the movement's name stenciled on the window and a poster next to it that says, "Tax the 1 percent." Fliers are neatly laid out on a table, protest signs stacked against a wall, and one utilitarian desk has a computer connected to the Internet, where the movement maintains a website and Facebook page and uses other social networks to connect.
"We're in it for the long term," said Colin Donnaruma, one of the protesters pepper sprayed during a confrontation with police when the outdoor encampment was dismantled. "The movement isn't contingent on physically occupying a place."
But they're not done with street theater. Almost 100 protesters rallied and marched Saturday, and other demonstrations are planned for later in January. Members said the month-to-month rent includes a commitment for six months.
One aim remains New York's statehouse, where they plan to demonstrate for social change and lobby lawmakers. They rallied in the Capitol for a millionaire's tax shortly before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the legislature kept the income tax at almost 9 percent instead of letting it drop below 7 percent for millionaires. Cuomo's proposal last week to reform campaign financing also dovetails with a goal of the Occupy movement.
Like protests in other U.S. cities, demonstrators held rallies and camped in a park. Albany officials let them stay in Academy Park since Oct. 21, while Cuomo insisted state police enforce an 11 p.m. curfew in adjacent state-owned Lafayette Park, where more than 130 people have been arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares has declined to prosecute peaceful protesters.