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Protesters in Buffalo gearing up to take a stand against Donald Trump

One protest is scheduled to be right outside of First Niagara Center.

Another is being billed as a peaceful march that starts on Bidwell Parkway.

Some protesters are trying to snatch up tickets so the arena looks empty.

Others are planning on “occupying” public spaces and shutting down major roadways.

And there are likely many more acts of civil disobedience being planned ahead of Donald Trump’s rally scheduled for next Sunday in Buffalo.

Among those organizing protests through Facebook groups is Ben Caldwell, a Buffalo-based actor. He is working with two others, Nick Muldoon and Matt Amato, on the march from Elmwood Village to First Niagara Center on the day of Trump’s rally. They are calling for people to gather at 2 p.m. that day at Bidwell and Elmwood avenues.

The plan is for the march to a follow an undisclosed route, through Allentown into downtown, but the idea is to not be confrontational.

“We’re not trying to cause trouble,” Caldwell said. “... We don’t want to occupy anywhere ... We don’t believe in shutting it down,” he said.

He hopes a group made up of hundreds will walk through the city peacefully, holding signs, along sidewalks.

“You’ll see a parade of 200, 300 people,” he said, “and we know we’ll get the bigger exposure about that.”

Caldwell pointed out that organizing an actual rally has been complicated by the fact that few people anticipated New York State would still be in play in the primary process. Permits for public gatherings in the City of Buffalo require 30 days notice, he said, but Trump’s and other campaign stops were scheduled at the last minute.

Another Buffalo activist, Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, who founded Young Black Democrats of WNY two years ago, anticipates thousands will turn out to protest Trump all over Buffalo.

“I think we’ll have 5,000 people. Following the trends on social media, people are saying they’re coming,” she said. “People will be on the inside. People will be on the outside,” she said.

On Facebook, she released a draft of protesters’ requests to the City of Buffalo and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, which include asking for police presence while allowing protesters to walk on the streets, and not just the sidewalk. She also asked for authorities to provide extra Metro Rail service in downtown as well as portable toilets.

“Respect us, and we will respect your city,” she wrote.

She said people eager to protest against Trump as well as social injustice are talking about taking over public spaces, including possibly Niagara Square, as demonstrators did during the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as Canalside. She said she’s heard talk about people wanting to try to shut down expressways.

In Chicago, a packed Trump rally at the University of Illinois was abruptly canceled because of concerns about violence.

“Trump and America need to understand and know our young people in America are basically forming a social revolution,” she said.

To teach potential demonstrators about nonviolent protests, the Western New York Peace Center has been holding free workshops across the city. The next one is from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave.


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