Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Brooklyn is Not For Sale, Notes on a _Protest at the Brooklyn Real Estate Summit

On November 17th, I rode my bike to the Brooklyn Museum.  There I saw activists from all over New York City at an event dubbed, "Protest The 6th Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit at Brooklyn Museum,"

Garden activists were there protesting the sale of lots holding community gardens to make way for luxury condos no one can afford.

Anti gentrification activists were there to condemn a pattern of rapid housing speculation displacing long term residents.

Library activists were there to rally supports against the sale of libraries to make way to for luxury condos. 

From hospitals to schools, there is very little space in New York that real estate does not think they can muscle their way into, push people out of, and transform from a spaces people use, to spaces people make exchanges within, profiting from by the inch.  There has to be another story for this global borough, activists plead.  Yet, our mayor seems to follow development's lead.  On November 17th, activists declared they were pushing back.

I stood with a few activists from Citizens defending libraries.

(Ellen Moynihan / Gothamist)
My friend Jason Jones had made a huge sign which the museum later asked if they could borrow for a show about social protest.  Commodify dissent.

(Jim O'Grady / WNYC
My friend Beka, of Notanalternative noted, FYI--WNYC story is inaccurate--the museum asked us back in April if we could contribute our mili-tents to the upcoming AGITPROP show. We said yes. When we learned about the museum hosting the real estate summit we decided the tents belonged outside at a real, live protest about displacement--not just in a historical retrospective.

"It's literally like vultures descending on the city saying, okay, what neighborhoods haven't been gentrified yet?" said Faith Pennick, a filmmaker from Lefferts Gardens. Meanwhile, "Everything is becoming more expensive, like going to a museum. Either I hold on to my apartment for dear life or, if it crosses a threshold, I'll have to leave."

November 17th 7:30am-1pm
12pm Press Conference
To endorse: or call/text (646) 820-6039
To help us raise funds:

On November 17th over 600 of the most elite real estate owners, developers and investors will gather at the Brooklyn Museum to scheme on how to continue to gentrify our neighborhoods, build more luxury apartments and displace low-to-middle income people from our homes.

Along with these greedy profiteers, politicians like former Governor Elliott spitzer & Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams will be featured speakers. These bankers, real estate developers, and electeds are hell bent on destroying the cultural, economic, and social diversity of New York City.

The Brooklyn Anti-gentrification Network (B.A.N.) is calling on all New Yorkers - longtime and new residents of all nationalities - to COME out on November 17th ! Endorsed by Coalition To End Broken Windows

Our neighborhoods are being torn apart by skyrocketing rents and terrorized by police brutality. Low-to-middle income New Yorkers are being priced out or displaced by gentrification while our city is being made over into a playground for the super rich.

We say "NO MORE! It's time to #TakeBackOurCommuniites !"

We say, "Not 1 more person displaced! Not 1 more luxury development, until we have affordable housing for all!”

Whose City? Our City!

BAN is a mass-based coalition of tenants, homeowners, block associations, anti-police brutality groups, legal and grassroots organizations working together to end the rampant gentrification and displacement of low to middle income residents of Brooklyn, New York

BAN Demands:

We demand that Average Median Income (AMI) is based on the community where housing will be built.
We demand that community boards are elected, not appointed.
We demand a rebuttal presumption requirement in the 197-A Plan process.
We demand an end to the 421-A tax break.
We demand that not one more no rent-stabilized unit is rents are destabilized.
We demand hands off SCRIE, DRIE, and HASA.
We demand no “Poor Doors”.
We demand alternative and creative affordable housing for all.
We demand the passing of The Small Business Jobs Survival Act – SBJSA Intro 0402-2014
We demand full transparency of Mayor De Blasio’s Housing Plan.

To find out meetings or to get involved with planning for November 17th : please click :

Call us at (646) 820-6039

Email us at

Flyer for double crossing brooklyn by not an alternative
Here is a REMINDER and ALERT to all to Library Defenders, come to hearing Wednesday ( SEE BELOW) and call City Councilman Steve Levin. 

WEDNESDAY, November 18, 2015., 1:00 - 5:30 PM Public Hearing on Selling the Brooklyn Heights Library 
City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Disposition and Concessions Meeting   Come and Testify or show support to oppose the sale and shrinkage of our libraries 
Council Chambers, City Hall 
City Hall Park 
New York, New York 10007 
You will be able to submit emailed written testimony if you can not attend 
Here is the Facebook Event for this event. 

We are expecting the matter to be taken up first at the 1:00 PM.  It is very important that everyone come and plan to testify.  It has been emphasized to us that numbers matter. 

Call and or email the City Council subcommittee members and Steve Levin: 

Andrew Cohen  - 718-549-7300Darlene Mealy - 718-953-3097Inez E. Dickens - 212-788-7397Mark Treyger - 718-373-9673Ydanis A. Rodriguez - 917-521-2616 
And especially also call Councilman Stephen Levin,, 718-875-52007 

Here is what you might say: 

Hello council member ........................ we appreciate your leadership in standing up against extreme inequality and the destructive effects of greed.  Right now you face a defining and historic moment.  You will decide whether we advance inequality by being the first public official to sell and shrink a public library.  You decide whether the Brooklyn Heights Library (enlarged and fully upgraded in 1993) will be sold to a luxury developer and shrunk or whether we protect and grow libraries to meet the needs of a growing city.  Please stand with the majority of library users and the public in voting against the sale.  Thank you for listening.

What everyone should know about City Councilman Stephen Levin: 
Steve has said at the hearings that "95%" of his constituents oppose the sale and shrinkage of this library.  Steve said he couldn't walk ten feet in his district without someone telling him this.  Steve said that his voters being against the sale of the library was "the #1 issue" when he was re-elected. So ask Steve to do what stand up against the developer money machine and vote against the sale of the library! 

* * * * 

THAT’S THE IMPORTANT STUFF.  Why is it important?  Because it is clear other libraries are next, and other public assets.  For instance, the talk is now about selling public schools for redevelopment and how they too can get short shrift in th bottom of luxury towers. 

Here is a less important update, a list of recent articles, although some may give you inspiration for your testimony. 

New York Times: Beneath New York Public Library, Shelving Its Past for High-Tech Research Stacks, By Tom Mashberg November 15, 2015 (An update about plans for the stacks the day before the board meeting via the NYPL's PR Dept.- No Comment permitted!)

Kings County Politics: Sunset Parkers Push Back Against Proposed Sale Of Local Library, Lenore Fedow, November 13, 2015

Noticing New York: Sunday, November 15, 2015, Do Conflicts of Interest Steer the New York City Planning Commission? The Answer Is "Yes" When It Comes To Selling/Shrinking Public libraries (Unless You Don't Want to Call Them "Conflicts of Interest")- Implication For Protecting The Public

WYNC: Dumbo Developer [and de Blasio] Proposes Schools [and libraries] in New Apartment Buildings,  by Janet Babin, Nov 13, 2015
The last WNYC story is written about and discussed in the Noticing New York Article. 

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