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Occupy Buffalo & What to Do with Homeless People


John Washington, who is part of a core group of occupiers with Occupy Buffalo that work on multiple working groups to keep the momentum of the occupation alive, talked with me about the camp’s attitude toward the homeless. [*About seven minutes into the interview.]

He described how the occupation has to “deal with the world as it exists right now,” even though they want the world to be a better place now. And that means occupiers in Buffalo have to strike a delicate balance when working with some of the most marginalized people in American society:

“What I really learned is how this system shuns you, how it just says after a certain point your life is meaningless,” explains Washington. “It doesn’t mean anything. We’re not going to help you. You get no resources. You’re just out on the streets. And, in Buffalo, homelessness is a huge problem.”

He adds, “When you have a place where you open your doors up, you open your hearts up and you feed people and you house people, you are going to get a lot of people who are just here because they have no better place to be. And we think, ‘Hey, we’re going to sleep in a tent in the winter and that’s going to be our big statement against the government,’ and they’re thinking, ‘Hey, there’s a tent. You know I use to sleep on the ground. I used to sleep in the gutter.'”

Occupy Buffalo like all occupations has been concerned with, as Washington says, “enabling them” to continue to be a drug addict by offering a place where they can “continue that behavior in a more comfortable way.” They have have tried to deal with people and empower them so they can stay here at the site and help build the movement in Buffalo.

Washington notes Buffalo used to be on of the richest cities. Now, it is the 3rd poorest in the country.

As Washington concludes, “Buffalo shows you what gentrifying does, what separating classes within a city does.”

CommunityThe Dissenter

Occupy Buffalo & What to Do with Homeless People

John Washington, who is part of a core group of occupiers with Occupy Buffalo that work on multiple working groups to keep the momentum of the occupation alive, talked with me about the camp’s attitude toward the homeless. [*About seven minutes into the interview.]

He described how the occupation has to “deal with the world as it exists right now,” even though they want the world to be a better place now. And that means occupiers in Buffalo have to strike a delicate balance when working with some of the most marginalized people in American society:

“What I really learned is how this system shuns you, how it just says after a certain point your life is meaningless,” explains Washington. “It doesn’t mean anything. We’re not going to help you. You get no resources. You’re just out on the streets. And, in Buffalo, homelessness is a huge problem.”

He adds, “When you have a place where you open your doors up, you open your hearts up and you feed people and you house people, you are going to get a lot of people who are just here because they have no better place to be. And we think, ‘Hey, we’re going to sleep in a tent in the winter and that’s going to be our big statement against the government,’ and they’re thinking, ‘Hey, there’s a tent. You know I use to sleep on the ground. I used to sleep in the gutter.'”

Occupy Buffalo like all occupations has been concerned with, as Washington says, “enabling them” to continue to be a drug addict by offering a place where they can “continue that behavior in a more comfortable way.” They have have tried to deal with people and empower them so they can stay here at the site and help build the movement in Buffalo.

Washington notes Buffalo used to be on of the richest cities. Now, it is the 3rd poorest in the country.

As Washington concludes, “Buffalo shows you what gentrifying does, what separating classes within a city does.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."