BY KARI LINDBERG | With passionate chants of “Racism No More,” “New York City Not For Sale” and “De Blasio, Step Down,” members the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side kicked off their protest outside City Hall last Wednesday.
Around 100 protestors, mainly older Chinese and Latinos, came out alongside activists, wearing signs in English, Spanish and Chinese saying “De Blasio, Step Down” and “Stop Ethnic Racism.” They called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to leave office for failing to protect Asian, African-American and Latino communities from being displaced.
Coalition member Dr. Sharon Cadiz said residents can see recent examples of how community action can reshape development decisions in Maspeth and at LIC’s own Phipps Houses site.
Nearly 300 people packed the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House in Long Island City on Monday night to discuss the de Blasio administration’s plan to rezone the area.
Hosted by the Justice for All Coalition, an alliance supported by Faith in New York and consisting of local labor, church, and public housing tenant groups, the forum sought to inform local residents about the stakes of a potential rezoning and share the coalition’s platform of demands for future equitable development.
In October 1966—50 years ago—Chinese leader Mao Zedong appeared on Tiananmen Square in Beijing to address an audience of 1.5 million Red Guards, the paramilitary youth he had called upon to tear down the Communist Party hierarchy. “Long live the Red Guards!” he shouted, to roars of approval. “Long live the great Cultural Revolution!”
That spring, Mao first called for a “Cultural Revolution,” urging the working class to “struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road” and “criticize and repudiate…the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes.”
Community Board 3 got an earful last Tuesday night from a coalition of Lower East Side activists who complained that the board was dragging its legs in the battle to stop the proliferation of luxury high-rises, hotels and other upscale developments that are displacing poor people who live in the neighborhood.
Members of the Chinatown Working Group — a coalition of grassroots organizations whose goal is to draft a master plan that would preserve housing affordability in a wide swath of Lower Manhattan — spoke out angrily at the full board meeting at P.S. 20 on May 24. They repeatedly demanded that C.B. 3 at its next monthly meeting issue a strong statement of support for the coalition’s housing preservation agenda.
This morning shoppers looking for American flag swimsuits or bright-patterned leggings at Dr. Jay’s streetwear store in downtown Brooklyn were greeted by a flurry of slogans and posters decrying the brand’s owner, Joseph Betesh, as a slumlord. Tenants from 83 and 85 Bowery were gathered with local activists out front, chanting against Betesh’s efforts to evict them.
The tenants, mainly low-income Chinese families, have been organizing against eviction for more than a year and trying to get their apartments recognized as rent-regulated. Back in 2013 the building was bought by Betesh’s Milestone Equities for $62 million. Last March, Betesh refused to renew leases, arguing that the building was not in fact rent-regulated because it underwent substantial rehabilitation. When that didn’t work (they dropped a court case against one of the residents and paid his legal fees) they seemingly changed tactics, deeming the building “structurally unsound” and ordering all the tenants to vacate so they could make repairs.
America’s cities may be home to individuals belonging to thousands of cultural groups and myriad socioeconomic statuses. But these urban centers are surprisingly no melting pot. As Nate Silver pointed out in several infographics,diverse cities are often the most segregated, especially at the neighborhood level.
To add to this gloomy reality, today’s urban developers often use subtle tactics to keep cities economically and racially divided. “The fair housing laws passed in the last half-century have forced racists to devise whole new methods of discrimination, subtler but serving the same purpose: to keep people of color out of ‘white’ spaces,” author Daniel Kolitz wrote on the online culture publication Hopes & Fears.