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‘Occupy the Bronx’ gains momentum

Bronx Times

It took three weeks for the Occupy Wall Street movement to travel the roughly 13 miles from Zuccotti Park to Fordham Plaza.

Occupy the Bronx was first held with less than ten people on Saturday, October 8, but the gathering has grown larger with each passing week. And like their counterparts on Wall Street, the Bronx occupiers are railing against the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else in the United States. They also say the effects of that margin are harshly felt in the Bronx, which is home to some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The organizers of Occupy the Bronx, which are a disparate collection of community groups and individuals, plan to convene on Fordham Plaza every Saturday morning for the indefinite future.

Hunts Point resident Lisa Ortega attended the first Occupy the Bronx. She was a regular in Zuccotti Park and heard about the Bronx idea through people she had met on Wall Street. She thinks the Occupy movement will draw highlight problems related economic disparity that have plagued her home borough for decades, such as substandard schools, homes and lack of access to quality food.

“Occupy the Bronx has its own specific issues that have been issues forever,” the 43-year-old said. “This isn’t something that just popped up out of the blue, we’ve always had these issues in our neighborhoods and bringing more global attention will help draw out more community members because we’re part of a global movement.”

Occupy the Bronx also has some friends within the government. Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Jose Rivera are among the borough elected officials who have attended.

“I’m going to keep watching this movement closely,” Assemblyman Rivera said. “It’s a new day with youngsters sending out their message. Everyone has a choice of whether they want to support them, and as of now, I’ve been a supporter.”

Assemblyman Rivera cited Occupy the Bronx’s non-violent approach as part of the reason he decided to pay attention.

“I’m listening,” he said. “They make a lot of sense to me, and they don’t disrupt.”

Like many other Occupy the Bronx attendees, Assemblyman Rivera said he heard about the gathering from Bronxites at Occupy Wall Street, and through Facebook.

Hundreds stopped by Fordham Plaza on Saturday, October 22. Numbers decreased the following weekend, however, mainly due to the snow storm that blanketed the northeast.

Civic groups such as the Northwest Bronx Clergy Coalition have helped spread the word about Occupy the Bronx. It held a rally on University Avenue and Fordham Road on the 22nd and many attendees subsequently made the short walk to Fordham Plaza.

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at bweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394. Follow him on Twitter @bweisbrod

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