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Bronx Residents Make ‘Occupy’ Movement Their Own

Editor’s Note: The following story was originally published in Bronx Youth Heard, a publication of the Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, a free journalism program for Bronx high school students run by the Norwood News. We are currently accepting applications for our spring semester. To find out more about the program and how to apply, click here. The Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative is supported by the North Star Fund, the Johnson Family Foundation Fund, and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, and is run in collaboration with CUNY’s College Now program at Hostos Community College.

By Brandon Diop

While Occupy Wall Street has been raging in downtown Manhattan since September, New York City’s outer boroughs have commenced their own protests that focus more on problems in that particular community.

Each Saturday, a group of residents and local activists have held Occupy the Bronx events at various locations: Fordham Plaza, “The Hub” at 149th Street and 3rd Avenue, the No. 6 train station at Hunts Point, and along Gun Hill Road.

While it started out small, the movement has grown. Well-known local advocacy group the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy

File photo by Emily Piccone

Coalition joined the protests in October, and an average group of 75 people have been attending the weekly events.

“The one percent have too much money and power,” said Sean Petty, a registered nurse at Jacobi Medical Center. “That money and power should belong with the 99 percent.”

Organizers use the website occupythebronx.org to post a calendar of planned rallies and videos of past events. The website has become an archive chronicling the importance of the movement, as well as the various problems going on in the Bronx community.

Like the Occupy movement in Manhattan, protestors say they are involved for a number of reasons. Signs at a recent rally read:  “Un-Occupy the Bronx from the NYPD,” “Cuts Hurt,” and “Somos el 99 Percent.”

“The rules are stacked against us,” said Sergio Cuevas, treasurer of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, who said he holds corporate banks responsible for much of the borough’s foreclosed property.

Desiree Pilgrim Hunter, the group’s president, says that she would like to see better regulated instead of feeding off of the Bronx’s low-income residents.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in the Bronx in 2009 was $32,888.

“We are used to doing more with less,” said organizer Lisa Ortega.

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