Photo by Anika Anand Four-year-old Delphinium Sibley-Wilson made her own sign for the Oct. 15 Occupy the Bronx rally.

Occupy the Bronx calls for weekly rallies on  Fordham Road

A large crowd of people gathered at Fordham Plaza on Saturday to participate in the second weekly meeting of the Bronx’s own contingent of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Bronxites came together to join the global conversation that was started by a few hundred protesters in Zuccotti Park, a block-square plaza in Manhattan’s financial district, a month ago.

“We are bringing people together and drawing the connection between what is happening down on Wall Street with the reality of life that we are experiencing here in the Bronx,” said Omar Freilla, 38, one of the group’s facilitators.

Freilla said that it was important for the Occupy Wall Street movement to move into the Bronx because Bronxites feel economic hardship more than any other borough.

“The Bronx has been the forgotten part of New York City for too long, and we have been bearing the brunt of the policies that are born down in the financial district and Wall Street that drive the direction of New York City Government, New York State, and the Country,” he said in an interview.

Participants took turns voicing their ideas to a crowd that grew to about a hundred during a two-hour rally, before the participants marched down Fordham Road to board the subway to the downtown protest.

“You don’t have to be a politician, a historian, or an economist to understand that things aren’t working.  So instead of just waiting for our representatives to do it, let’s all come together and start this conversation,” said Erik Maldonado, 31, a Bronx poet and web-designer.

“The Bronx can’t wait for Occupy Wall Street to speak for every need of the Bronx. We’re known as tough no-nonsense citizens. So let’s be that,” said Maldonado.

Ephraim Cruz, 38, a Mott Haven native and facilitator of Occupy the Bronx, said the Occupy Wall Street movement has been criticized for lacking ethnic and cultural diversity.  He said that Occupy the Bronx will bring more legitimacy to the larger movement by adding different voices.

“We are the diversity that Occupy Wall Street has been waiting for,” Cruz said.

In stark contrast to the images that emerged of confrontations between police and protesters in Manhattan’s financial district, the NYPD accommodated the marchers by providing an escort and even stopping traffic for them.

Occupy the Bronx will continue to meet at Fordham Plaza at 11 a.m., according to its Facebook page, which  declares, “It is time Bronxites gathered together, and in the spirit of our reputation as being tough no nonsense citizens, we will show our resolve.”


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