The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Tag Archives: immigrant rights

Tomorrow: May Day “General Strike”…No work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking….

Tomorrow is May Day, marking the the126th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago, turning this traditionally Celtic holiday into a lefty labor rights anarchist immigrant rights prison justice anti-corporate Occupy everything holiday.  This year, there is a nationwide call for a General Strike – “A Day without the 99%” – encouraging people not to go to work, to school, to shop, or to buy anything.  Like in 2006, El Dia Sin Inmigrantes, the general strike will demonstrate just how powerful collective organizing can be. We see the power of collective organizing every day.  Tenants join forces through group lawsuits, building-wide petitions, and even by the simple act of coming together and brainstorming solutions to building problems, tenants improve their buildings and establish community. May Day is not only a time to assert people-power, but to assert labor and immigrant rights.  Tenants we work with are almost exclusively low-income immigrants or people of color, and all are effected by the racial implications of policies like “Stop and Frisk,” “Operation Clean Halls” and the would-be “Secure Communities” program.  Tomorrow is a chance to band together across racial and class lines to assert an anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-sexist agenda.  There will be a plethora of free food, music, art supplies, educational teach-ins allowing for us to live one day in without participating in the system (capitalism) which promotes policies that hurt our communities. Check out Occupy Wall Street’s website for a full list of May Day activities and organizational endorsers. A few events we wanted to highlight:
Tenants and Neighbors:

This May Day, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) will be voting on a proposed range of rent adjustments for rent stabilized tenants. Every year since it came into existence, the Rent Guidelines Board has voted to raise rents, usually to levels that are unaffordable to many rent stabilized tenants.  This year, join us in expressing our collective frustration with the Rent Guidelines Board and demanding that it be made to be more accountable to the millions of New Yorkers who want the city to remain affordable to low and moderate income people. The meeting is at 5:30 at 7 East 7th Street; we will be rallying outside at 5:00 PM. For more information or to RSVP for the rally, please contact Sam Stein at sstein@tandn.org or 212-608-4320, ext. 316.

Take Back the Land:

The Free University at Madison Square Park is an open invitation to educators around New York to participate in May Day. Lectures, workshops, skill-shares, and discussions will be held — all open to the public. University professors will bring their classes to the commons. Join Robert Robinson,  representatives from Take Back the Land and from Organizing for Occupation for a teach-in and conversation about the current housing crisis and the growing movement of communities taking positive action to collectively secure the human right to housing.

positive action (direct action) to collectively secure the human right to housing

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice:

2pm – JFREJ joins GOLES to support Public Housing residents taking their struggle to the streets! Meet: NE Corner of Houston and Avenue D, New York Sick and tired of being left out of decisions that affect the future of their homes, Lower East Side residents have decided to take to the streets — marching from Houston to 14th street to raise awareness about the New York City Housing Authority’s proposed policy changes that will affect the future of public housing. The LES has always been a safe haven for immigrant and low-income families – public housing is one of the few affordable housing options left. Protect what we have! March with LES public housing residents to Union Square where we’ll join the masses for the Unity Rally.

For the massive solidarity rally, we will be meeting at 4pm in Union Square, and at 5:30 we’ll be marching to Wall St.! We hope to see you there.

S-Comm: End It, Don’t Mend It!

As many of you are aware, the never-ending confusion surrounding Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s program Secure Communities continues as two recent reports were released, and ICE plans to extend the program nationwide by next year.  Just this week, Montana and Washington implemented the controversial program, bringing the total to 34 states. Through Secure Communities, all fingerprints collected by local police are checked against ICE databases, supposedly meant to locate and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal histories.  Unfortunately, the program has sparked widespread fear in immigrant communities, and has proven time and time again that regardless of criminal history, immigrants are being deported for minor violations.  In addition, several reports have shown that Secure Communities discourages women who are victims of domestic violence to call the police for fear of deportation.   When police can act as immigration agents, who can we trust to protect us?

Met with powerful organizing, lawsuits, and media attention, ICE has revoked the program in three states and several cities, including NY.  This proved that states could opt-out and the question remains if this is this possible again.   ICE wants to “fix” glitches in the system such as mass deportations of immigrants with no criminal backgrounds or widespread abuse in detention centers, while immigrant and activist communities have called on ICE to “End It, Not Mend It.”

UHAB organizers stand with immigrant communities in the call to end Secure Communities now!  As tenant organizers, we work to build power and confidence in buildings to stand up for their rights and improve their communities.  Racist programs like “Stop and Frisk,” “Operation Clean Halls” and “Secure Communities” instill fear in, and create tensions between communities and the police.  Only through real policy change and engaging communities honestly can our country create safe places to live for everyone living here.

We need to work together to make sure this program does not spread nationwide!  Check out the End It, Don’t Mend It campaign here where you can sign petitions and stay updated on the campaign.

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