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We’ll displace YOU, rezoning foes cry outside Johnson’s home

BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | Labor Day was no holiday for housing activists who turned out in large numbers to protest the displacement of communities of color.

Starting out from Chelsea Market. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

A hundred people gathered outside Chelsea Market, just up the street from the Apple Store and down the street from the New York City Housing Authority’s Fulton Houses, to call on city government and, in particular, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, to halt the gentrification overwhelming neighborhoods. A large Brooklyn contingent of residents chanted, “Sunset Park is not for sale!”

Sunset Park housing activists’ banner proclaimed that “capitalism is the problem.” (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

To chants of “You displace us, we’ll displace you,” the crowd, briefly accompanied by about a dozen police officers, marched across W. 15th St. to the home of Johnson. There, for more than an hour, one after another took the bullhorn to call out the Council speaker for his housing policies.

“Our community has been fighting the pandemic of racist rezonings,” one said, adding, “We can’t afford another de Blasio.”

Activists put up a banner outside Corey Johnson’s home calling him beholden to real estate interests. Johnson has pledged not to take developers’ contributions in his mayoral campaign. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

She was referring to Johnson’s campaign for mayor.

Another’s voice boomed out, “Any rezoning without community input is illegitimate, corrupt and racist.”

Jacqueline Lara, a longtime local resident, stood off to the side listening.

“I want to stay in Fulton [Houses],” she said. “I’ve been there 20 years. I want to fix it without involving developers.”

The protesters rallied outside Speaker Johnson’s home. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Before the pandemic hit, the de Blasio administration was pushing ahead with a RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) plan for the Fulton Houses, under which two of the complex’s low-scale buildings would be razed and replaced with a pair of high-rise mixed-income towers. Another building would also be constructed for NYCHA residents displaced by the construction project.

A Johnson spokesperson declined comment on the protest outside the speaker’s house, as well as gentrification caused by rezonings.

2 Comments

  1. Gerry Vali Gerry Vali September 10, 2020

    Feel for these people. I grew up in Yorkville, Upper East Side, when it started gentrifying in the very early Sixties. Saw lots of tenants evicted from spacious railroad flats that were made into studios for the singles that were moving into the area. Fortunately we lived in a newer building that could not be condemned. Eventually, the landlord did get everyone out after harassment, no heat, the usual.
    My parents were able to move a dozen blocks south so we could stay in the area. My best wishes. Keep up the fight!

  2. David R. Marcus David R. Marcus September 11, 2020

    I met Corey Johnson when he was first running for City Council and he addressed our block association along with his primary opponent, Yetta Kurland. A guy in the audience was relentlessly haranguing Corey over his early career with real estate operators and developers. After an extended period of abuse I rose to tell the gentlemen to desist and went on to throw my support to Johnson’s candidacy and honestly saw him as mayor. Years later as I watched his opportunist agenda in total disregard of his constituents I realized how right that relentless gentlemen was. Shame on me for being so snookered by a self-serving opportunist politician. He and his disciples will have a reckoning, after the election, when they’ll need to find day jobs.

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