NYCLU Legal Observers Support Occupy Buffalo’s Right to Protest

March 1, 2012 – Despite having been unlawfully removed from Buffalo's Niagara Square, supporters of Occupy Buffalo and its members continue to exercise their Free Speech and Assembly Rights, throughout Buffalo and WNY under the watchful eyes of NYCLU Legal Observers.

Most recently, the NYCLU’s Western Regional Office had trained legal observers on hand during a visit to Buffalo by members of Occupy Wall Street, as well as during recent actions against illegal mortgage and lending practices at the Bank of America.
 

NYCLU Western Region Organizer Emily Terrana (left) has been engaging local students on the rights of LGBT youth.
Organizer Emily Terrana (left) has been engaging local students on the rights of LGBT youth.

Educating Youth on the Rights of LGBT Students

NYCLU Interim Regional Organizer Emily Terrana has been distributing some of the NYCLU's latest "Know Your Rights" materials to areas students in local schools.

Terrana has been engaging area students, most recently at GLYS-WNY and at Buffalo's City Honors School, through presentations to their gay straight alliances on the rights of LGBT students.

Click here to see the palm card 'Know Your Rights: LGBTQ Rights in Schools'
 

NYCLU Participates in "We Are the Border" National Day of Action

NYCLU Western Region Director John A. Curr, Western Region organizer Emily Terrana, Citizen Action Vice President Jim Anderson.NYCLU Western Region Director John A. Curr, Western Region organizer Emily Terrana, Citizen Action Vice President Jim Anderson.

Feb 28, 2012 – Today, the NYCLU's Western Regional Office participated with local ally Citizen Action of New York in the New York Immigration Coalition's "We Are the Border" day of action to bring awareness to the U.S. Border Patrol’s aggressive enforcement activities. Members of local Latino communities live under constant threat of being arrested and deported by a Border Patrol that wrongly believes it can stop anyone at any time or place and demand proof of their citizenship or immigration status. Federal agents have confronted people on buses, trains and even at churches.

On Feb. 28, Western Regional Officer Director John Curr, along with Deacon Jim Anderson, vice president of the Board of Directors for Citizen Action of New York, co-hosted an hour-long radio show on local independent broadcaster, WUFO-AM 1080, to discuss these issues, along with Jacki Esposito, director of immigration advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition; Lena F. Masri, staff attorney, Council on American-Islamic Relations; and David Ayala, organizing director of One America in Washington State.

Following the broadcast, Curr, Anderson, and Interim Western Regional Organizer Emily Terrana posted the accompanying photo as part of the "Day of Action" online campaign.
 

NYCLU Regional Director Addresses Buffalo School Board on Flawed Bullying Policy

NYCLU Western Region Director John A. Curr III testifies before the Buffalo School Board on its harsh suspension policy.
Western Region Director John A. Curr III testifies before the Buffalo School Board on its harsh suspension policy.

NYCLU Western Regional Director, John A. Curr III joined parents, advocates and community groups, in criticizing the City of Buffalo's School Board flawed discipline policy the relies heavily on out-of-school suspensions. The policy remains in place about 19 months after a local student was shot and killed at a metro-bus stop while suspended from school for remaining in a school hallway after the beginning of classes.

"The City of Buffalo Schools should be pushing our children into college and good jobs, not prisons and certainly not into the morgue,” Curr said. ”As a first step, the City of Buffalo needs to eliminate this flawed policy that utilizes suspensions as punishment for normal adolescent behavior. It must reform the disciplinary code to establish positive-discipline practices that don’t push children from the classrooms into the criminal justice system.”
 

Occupy Buffalo Eviction an Affront to Free Speech

Police raided the Occupy Buffalo encampment in the dead of night, violating terms of an agreement to allow the protesters to remain in the park.
Police raided the Occupy Buffalo encampment in the dead of night, violating terms of an agreement to allow the protesters to remain in the park.

February 2, 2012 — In response to the unlawful, overnight eviction of Occupy Buffalo demonstrators from Niagara Square, the New York Civil Liberties Union today issued the following statement attributable to NYCLU Western Regional Office Director John A. Curr III:

“The unlawful eviction of protesters from Niagara Square is an affront to free speech. Occupy Buffalo had fully complied with its agreement with the city to remain in the square. For more than four months, the city had set a good example by accommodating the protest and accommodating the agreement. It’s a shame to have spoiled that good work by raiding the park in the dead of night, tearing down tents and arresting peaceful demonstrators.”

Click here to read more.
 

NYCLU Brokers Deal Between Occupy Buffalo and City to Protect Protest

December 9, 2011 -- The New York Civil Liberties Union has helped broker an agreement reached today between the City of Buffalo and the Occupy Buffalo movement that will allow demonstrators to continue camping in Niagara Square.

“This agreement is a win-win. It shows that cities can both accommodate free speech and protect public safety,” said John A. Curr III, director of the NYCLU’s Western Regional Office. “We’re gratified that the city and the protestors were willing to come to the table and negotiate this reasonable deal.”

The NYCLU’s Western Regional Office was instrumental in negotiating the terms of the agreement with the city and demonstrators.

Click here to read more.
 

Protecting Occupy Wall Street Protests in Buffalo

A demonstrator at the Occupy Wall Street protests in Buffalo, NY, wrote the NYCLU office number on his arm in magic marker.
A demonstrator wrote the NYCLU office number on his arm in magic marker.

Now that the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to Buffalo, the Western Regional Office is working to ensure that local police respect the right to protest.

Our staff and volunteers have served as legal observers to monitor police conduct at various demonstrations. We’re helping protest organizers obtain permits for their events, negotiating with police officials to accommodate the protestors who are camping out in Niagara Square, and distributing “Know Your Rights” materials to demonstrators to educate them on their right to protest. We’ve even established a hotline (716.332.4658) for people to report any cases of police misconduct.

Click here to read more.
 

NYCLU Study Examines Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State

August 24, 2011 — The New York Civil Liberties Union today released a briefing paper examining the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-mosque activities throughout New York State.

The briefing paper, Religious Freedom Under Attack: the Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State, explores the legal and cultural background against which mosque controversies have unfolded across the state over the past year. It calls on public officials to promote intercultural understanding of Muslim New Yorkers while respecting the First Amendment rights of those who oppose mosque projects.

The paper provides nine examples of incidents across the state in which Muslim communities were targeted for their beliefs and practices by their neighbors and/or local governments. It chronicles the fierce opposition to the proposed Park51 Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, and details heated opposition to mosques and proposed mosque projects in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Midland beach, Staten Island; and three communities in Long Island. It also covers three incidents in upstate New York in which mosques were subjected to harassment and attacks.

Click here to read more.
 

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were married at Niagara Falls at midnight on July 24 – the first legal same-sex marriage in New York State.
Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were married at Niagara Falls at midnight on July 24 – the first legal same-sex marriage in New York State.

From Stonewall to Niagara Falls

Following its intense lobbying efforts to push the marriage fairness bill through the Legislature, Western Regional Office celebrated the historic victory, appropriately enough, at a wedding. In fact, it was among the first same-sex marriages performed in the state, taking place at Niagara Falls at midnight on July 24 – the first day the Marriage Equality Act went into effect.

Buffalo resident Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were married at the honeymoon capital of the world, first in a multidenominational religious ceremony, and then by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, as rainbow lights glowed on the American Falls. It was an inspiring and touching occasion.

Click here to read more.
 

NYCLU Challenges Erie County’s Use of Subpoenas to Attack Nonprofits that Criticized Jail Conditions

July 27, 2011 -- The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a motion in federal court to quash subpoenas that Erie County served to three local nonprofit organizations to compel them to turn over a wide range of documents and correspondence concerning their advocacy for better conditions at the county’s jails.

The motion was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in behalf of the League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara, the Erie County Prisoners’ Rights Coalition, and the Partnership for the Public Good.

Click here to read more.
 

Western Regional Office Staff: On the Road to Justice

NYCLU Western Regional Office organizer Mario Ezekiel Hernandez and office director John A. Curr III in Albany.
Western Regional Office organizer Mario Ezekiel Hernandez and office director John A. Curr III in Albany.

It's been a busy spring for the staff of the NYCLU in Western New York.

Western regional office director John A. Curr III and WRO regional organizer Mario Ezekiel Hernandez joined NYCLU statewide staff in visiting both the State and National Capital to bring the concerns of the NYCLU and its members directly to our elected representatives.

On March 1, Curr and Hernandez were joined by NYCLU staff from across the state for the New York Immigration Coalition's "Immigrant's Day of Action" in Albany.

Bringing together more than 700 allies from across New York state, the "Day of Action" focused on the Coalition's major concerns, from the destructive federal "Secure Communities" program to the right to health care for all New Yorkers, meeting with lawmakers throughout an afternoon of lobbying the entire Western New York delegation.

Click here to read more.
 

Op-Ed, The Buffalo News: "Program targets immigrants, erodes public safety"

By Udi Ofer and John A. Curr III

A version of this column was published in the Buffalo News on March 31, 2011

The Obama administration's Secure Communities (S-Comm) program targeting immigrants for deportation threatens basic civil rights and will make New Yorkers less safe.

President Obama should drop it altogether. Short of that, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should withdraw New York from this misguided program.

Click here to read more.
 

NYCLU Western Regional Organizer Recognized: 2011 "Nuestro Orgullo Latino" Award Winner

'One of the Best and Brightest of the Latino/Hispanic Community Award' winner Mario Ezekiel HernandezMario Ezekiel Hernandez (left)

NYCLU western regional organizer Mario Ezekiel Hernandez was recognized on April 21 as "One of the Best and Brightest of the Latino/Hispanic Community" at the fifth annual "Nuestro Orgullo (Our Pride)" luncheon by Hispanics United of Buffalo-Niagara at the Buffalo Convention Center.

The awards are given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the Latin-American community and Buffalo, NY.

Congratulations, Mario!