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BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page


For Immediate Release: July 17, 2006

THOUSANDS AT MASSIVE RALLY AGAINST RATNER PLAN
Brooklynites and New Yorkers Demonstrate at Grand Army Plaza
Against Ratner Plan for 16 Skyscrapers and Arena Sweetheart Deal

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK ≠ On a sweltering Sunday afternoon, at the shadeless Grand Army Plaza nexus of Brooklyn, thousands gathered to demonstrate against Forest City Ratnerís development proposal for 16 skyscrapers and an arena smack in the middle of the low-rise, residential neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Clinton Hill and Boerum Hill. The rally was organized by the leading coalition against the project, Develop Donít Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), and 29 co-sponsoring community-based organizations.

Councilmember Letitia James, the proposalís leading political opponent who represents the district where the proposed project would be built, called the project a "big scam," a "boondoggle of all history," and a "hostile takeover" in which "elected officials are complicit in the conspiracy against their own people."

DDDB advisory board members, actor/director Steve Buscemi and actor Rosie Perez spoke to the crowd. "This plan insults the poor, and we deserve better," said Ms. Perez to cheers. "Stop insulting the people of Brooklyn, and do the right thing." Mr. Buscemi, in one line of his playful poem said, "Affordable housing / but eminent domain / I play a lot of crazies / but that sounds insane."

"This is white and black and progressive and working class saying no to a billion-dollar developer," exhorted Councilmember Charles Barron

"The spin from day one has been that this proposal is a Ďdone deal.í Letís get real. As long as we live in a democracy we have the power and there are no done deals. This deal is coming undone. Itís suffering from a long-term illness and needs to be put out of its misery. When the time is ripe, they will have no defense to our eminent domain lawsuit," said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein from the rally stage. "And if Brooklyn wants an arena there can be one without eminent domain. Thereís a place called Coney Island with city-owned land. And the worldís largest subway terminal. Coney Island is built for crowds. A Coney Island arena has been long embraced by their elected officials, their Councilman Recchia, and Borough President Marty Markowitz wanted an arena there. Even Forest City Ratner wanted an arena there until they eyed their Prospect Heights land grab. Donít be fooled if they oppose it now. In Queens they opposed a stadium then embraced it when the Jets West Side Stadium failed. This pitched battle can end, if Forest City Ratner ends its intransigence"

"Ratner is trying to recreate how our city operates," Bob Law, a former radio host, activist, local entrepreneur and DDDB advisory board member, told the crowd. "Weíre not opposed to development, but weíre opposed to the process. When people say we are opposed to jobs, I am. Iím opposed to the temporary, dead-end jobs Ratner is offering. My community needs careers."

An unscheduled speaker was Bayside, Queens Councilmember Tony Avella, who said, "We have to start saying no to overdevelopment and yes to people power."

Other speakers included: Harlem Tenants Council Director Nellie Hester Bailey, Chief Executive Minister of The Brooklyn Christian Center and publisher of the NY Christian Times Reverend Dennis Dillon, minister at the Clinton Hill Brown Memorial Baptist Church Reverend Clinton Miller, representative of New York Solidarity Coalition With Katrina/Rita Survivors Joan Gibbs, and president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund Judi Francis.

The rally stage backdrop proclaimed:
"Brooklynís Neighborhoods, Say No To Ratnerís Land Grab!
Our Taxes For Jobs & Housing, Not For Billionaires.
No Arena. No Extreme Density. No Eminent Domain."
Demonstrators carried placards with the messages:
"No Arena. Build Affordable Housing,"
"No Extreme Density. Theyíre Too Darn Tall,"
and
"No Democracy, No Project. Respect the Community."

"Today was a great day. People came out in force to say we know whatís best for our great neighborhoods and diverse communities and what our needs are; we know that we donít need a corporate land grab formed behind closed doors, and a high-rise luxury housing complex with an arena; what we need is truly affordable housing with development that respects our communities. These are our tax dollars and they should go to truly public needs such as housing, education and city services, not a private development corporation," said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstien after the rally ended.

At 8.8 million square feet, equal two three Empires State Buildings, Forest City Ratnerís plan is the largest development proposed by a single developer in the history of New York City. It would cost the public, according to DDDB, at least $1.9 billion or, according the developer, at least $1.1 billion. The proposal avoids oversight and a vote by local government from community boards to the City Council. Approval would be given by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) comprised by Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate Majority Leader Bruno (who are unaccountable to those most impacted by the project) and the Governor. If built it would be the densest residential development in the United States.

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them
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