Friday News Update: Direct Action Edition!

Happy Direct-Action Friday! Have you been feeling apathetic? Disconnected from social movements manifesting in your neighborhood? Today’s news on three bits of activism taking place in Brooklyn:

1. Tenants in Williamsburg and Greenpoint are standing up for themselves and demanding an end to illegal evictions throughout these famously gentrified neighborhoods of high-paying hipsters.  Tenants complain of living for years without heat or hot water, and that landlords are using all sorts of tactics- as extreme as fire- to force low-income tenants out.  Wednesday, community leaders and tenants gathered to protest landlords who engage in illegal harassment.

Evelyn Cruz, a representative of congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, told crowds at the rally that hipsters are welcome to join in the fight for justice in the community.  She said (as reported in an article in Capital NY):

Any hipster that believes in justice, any hipster that believes in progress, any hipster that believes that hardworking low-income tenants deserve a decent and affordable place to live, we invite you to join this coalition,” she told the crowd.

2. A second tenant action has been gaining momentum, particularly though the support of Occupy Sunset Park and Take Back the Land.  Tenants in three buildings on 46th St. in Brooklyn have been on rent strike for weeks in attempts to improve the atrocious conditions they have been dealing with for years. We actually learned about these buildings and met with tenants when we were  researching buildings in foreclosure with Astoria Bank. The buildings remain in foreclosure, but the debt has been sold to Seryl LLC.

Tenants cite fear of fires and electrical blackouts, issues with the boiler, mold, and rodents as the major concerns in the buildings and the reason for the rent strike. If you’re interested in getting supporting the tenants and being involved in their fight, Occupy Sunset Park is holding vigils from 6:00-7:00 pm every night on 46th street between 5th and 6th ave.

3. An awesome display of video activism has brought even more concrete evidence to illustrate how racism is embedded within NYC’s Stop and Frisk policy.  David Galarza, an activist (also in Sunset Park), captured a horrific scene of a police officer body slamming Sean Pagan, 19, on video during a Stop and Frisk.   An article in the NYTimes states that:

Mr. Pagan, who is Hispanic, said the officers at the precinct house where he was taken joked and laughed about his body-slamming.

Without the video, he said, he would not have known how to draw attention to his arrest. Even his mother did not believe his story until she saw the video, he said.

“It would’ve been his word over mine,” he said. “He would’ve said I was resisting and going crazy. It would’ve been brushed under the rug.”

We hope that these courageous acts throughout Brooklyn inspire you to have a direct-action filled weekend!


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