Neither President Obama nor Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was anywhere near the small group of protesters corralled across the circle from the entrance to Alumni Arena on Thursday morning, but that didn’t dampen the activists’ spirits. Getting their message to the students and others who would be in the audience was important, too, some said.
The largest contingent – perhaps four dozen – was opposed to “fracking,” the Keystone Pipeline and other environmentally questionable energy issues. Signs drew attention to reports of water contamination and the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in investigating such cases nationally.
However, some did see room for hope.
“The president and the governor can only do what mass movements allow them to do,” said Bill Nowak, a member of the Sierra Club who had been using a megaphone to urge students to get involved. “There’s people here from all different perspectives – interested in creating jobs with clean energy, and relative to the Keystone Pipeline and climate change.”
Derek Thacker, a volunteer with the Buffalo International Action Center, was with other volunteers holding a banner saying “U.S. Out of the Middle East.”
“At present we’re focused on events in North Africa and Syria,” Thacker said. “(The U.S.) is funding a military government in Egypt that is killing its people. We fight for social justice and against war.”
Bonnie Mahoney, of Amherst, joined people demanding that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing classified information to the media, be set free.
“Bradley exposed exactly what we’re doing with our military,” she said. “We are recruiting young people to be assassins.
“The more innocent people we kill, the more enemies we make,” she said.