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Upstate New York Hates the City So Much it Wants to Secede

By Nicole Levy | August 27, 2015 2:51pm
 Pro-secessionists want to divide New York into an upstate region and a downstate one.
Pro-secessionists want to divide New York into an upstate region and a downstate one.
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There's always been some beef between New York City and the rest of the state; city residents and upstaters will dispute the respective merits of Trader Joe's and Wegmans, French Bulldogs and shepherd mixes, $1 pizza slices and "garbage plates."

But this Sunday a number of pro-secession groups will gather in Bainbridge, NY to consort with allies in their fight to actually divide the state into an upstate and a downstate region (the latter including Westchester and Rockland counties). 

The "Secession Movement Rally" will convene members of groups like Americans for Restoring the Constitution, the Tri-County Tea Party, and the Divide New York State Caucus, the Times-Union reports.

What's driving the movement? A petition on the Divide New York State Caucus website says, "It is inequitable to both upstate and downstate residents to share a representative government; the vast differences in lifestyle and aspirations demonstrate that both downstate and upstate should have their own autonomous governments so as to more effectively serve their constituents' interests."

But the issue at the heart of the matter isn't cultural. Secessionists have rallied over governor Andrew Cuomo's attempts to ban hydraulic fracking, which they view as a squandered economic opportunity.

"The Southern Tier is desolate,” Conklin town supervisor Jim Finch told WBNG-TV. “We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground.”

In the view of the caucus, an independent upstate New York could either secede to Pennsylvania, where fracking is legal, or establish itself as one of two autonomous regions subject to a "small state government."

To join the Quaker state, pro-secessionists would need approval from New York, Pennsylvania and the U.S. Congress. To become what is being tentatively called "New Amsterdam," they'd need to go through a state constitutional convention process. (That's an unlikely outcome: a vote on whether to even hold a convention process won't happen until 2017, and the state has held a total of nine conventions since its constitution was adopted in 1777.)

If you're planning on attending Sunday's rally, you'll have to prove your self-sufficiency. The event flier reads, "Attendees need to bring their own chairs."