Why Albany isn’t Oakland

Across the country, mayors and police departments have started cracking down on Occupy protests.

In Atlanta, the mayor revoked an executive order allowing the protesters to stay on Tuesday afternoon. Just after midnight, police swept Woodruff Park, arresting the 50 peaceful protesters who stayed behind. [1] The same day, Occupy Orlando was kicked out of their park behind the Chamber of Commerce building. [2]

In Oakland, California, the situation was much worse: police raided and cleared the camp at Ogawa Plaza, arresting 75 people. They used tear gas, concussion grenades and batons to attack the peaceful crowd that came out to show solidarity that night. [3] One protester, a veteran who served two tours in Iraq, was struck in the head by a tear gas cannister, leaving him in critical condition.

But that’s not what happened in Albany. Over the weekend, as Albany’s Mayor was considering whether protestors should be cleared from their encampment, Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced he would not prosecute anyone arrested for nuisance violations while exercising their First Amendment rights at Occupy Albany.

Take a moment to consider the respect that this elected official is showing for the First Amendment. He could have said nothing. By speaking up, he helped make it easier for the Mayor and Police Chief to make their decision as well — to allow the Occupiers to “freely assemble.”

Sign this petition to thank David Soares for standing firm for First Amendment rights of the citizens of Albany, New York and America.

The Working Families Party supported David Soares in his ground-breaking initial campaign for office in 2004, and we’re prouder than ever to have done so.  The First Amendment trumps curfews and administrative regulations. As long as people have grievances, they should be able to non-violently voice them.

The 99% is rising up. Since 1979, the only segment of society to have its share of national income increase is the top 1% [4]. It’s about time everyone else had a share of society’s wealth and a fair shot at economic security. Demonstrators gathering across the country are saying the same thing: our economy is out of whack, and “trickle down” is a fraud. We need shared sacrifice, and shared prosperity.

David Soares could have earned a “tough on crime” merit badge for his re-election campaign by convicting hundreds of protesters of trespassing. But instead, he chose the high road. He let them have their voice. As Keith Olbermann said, he “made news by not making news.” [5]

It was the right decision.  Sign this petition to thank him for his support of the First Amendment.

Too much of the media attention has focused on protesters a police, but that’s not what this movement is about.

It’s about two serious questions: why were the banks and financial corporations allowed to gamble and lose and then be repaid by taxpayers, and what are we going to do to create a society that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

Take a moment to thank David Soares for doing the right thing and letting Occupy Albany exercise its First Amendment rights.

Thank you for your tireless advocacy,

Dan Cantor
Executive Director, WFP

Karen Scharff
WFP Executive Committee Co-Chair

PS – The WFP relies on donors like you to help us keep fighting for the First Amendment and economic justice. Can you chip in $15?

SOURCES:

1.       http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-20125634/occupy-atlanta-camp-cleared-dozens-arrested/
2.       http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news/2011/october/333944/Occupy-Orlando-protesters-kicked-out-of-park-overnight
3.       http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/occupy-oakland-raided-by-police_n_1030603.html http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_19188125?source=most_viewed
4.       http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/charts-of-the-day-whered-all-the-income-growth-go-to-the-1-percent.php
5.       http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2011/10/25/olbermann-thanks-albany-da-for-making-news-by-not-making-news/

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