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Activists Shut Down Buffalo's Peace Bridge Despite Oppressive Police Presence

Approximately 400 activists closed Buffalo, NY's U.S.-Canada border for three hours Sunday, April 22, by blocking entrance to the Peace Bridge, the third busiest border trade route in the U.S., in direct actions which broke off from a legal anti-FTAA rally in Front Park.
Approximately 400 activists closed Buffalo, NY's U.S.-Canada border for three hours Sunday, April 22, by blocking entrance to the Peace Bridge, the third busiest border trade route in the U.S., in direct actions which broke off from a legal anti-FTAA rally in Front Park.

The action, led largely by the CIA (Chicago In Action) and The GLF (Garbage Liberation Front) was designed to illustrate how trade agreements such as NAFTA and the FTAA give corporate power and capital more rights than people and to highlight the wasteful nature of our current capatilist system. The two prong proposal made for colorful demonstrations as activists dressed as dollar bills in an effort to cross the border as capital only to be "recognized" as citizens and denied while others built beautiful puppets and sound machines from recycled wastes "scavanged" from city dumpsters. The march consisted of young midwest and northeast activists, community members and rank and file union members. The plan for action had been developed rather quickly in the latter half of the week during affinity group spokescouncil meetings called by the Buffalo Direct Action Network. Many affinity groups that had been turned away in their bid to enter Canada along the Northeast corridor were in attendance. The Buffalo police, who were aware of the vulnerability of the bridge, brought in close to 150 riot cops of multiple agency origin and attempted to intimidate activists into abandoning the protest in an extremely overwhelming display of force. Weeks of anti-protester, violent oriented rhetoric had been pumped into the media by law enforcement agencies in Buffalo in an attempt to alienate the protesters and galvanize the community against any civil disobedience. Despite the fact Buffalo's corporate media eagerly became the propaganda machine of the Police force, the community was unmoved.

After shutting down the border for close to three hours and taking control of a main street for some time, only one arrest had occured. After attempts to negotiate the release of the lone arrestee in exchange for an end to the protest proved futile, a sit in was staged in the street. Activists were fed and watered by Food not Bombs, while the fully armored riot cops sweltered in the summer like temperatures. The Police chief quickly called for new negotiations and the single arrestee was released some fifteen minutes later. Activists immediately declared the action a victory and marched back to the legal rally.

Later that afternoon during a legal march through downtown Buffalo, members of The GLF, who just hours earlier engaged in the tense standoff at the bridge, took to cleaning the streets and to beautifying the city. Many residents were suprised and impressed by the "black clad anarchists" actions. Many opinions and sterotypes were changed that day by both actions.

Several video productions are in the works. Contact the CIA at noftaa (at) onebox.com or www.buffalo.indymedia.org.
 
 

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