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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
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
"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
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
Demonstrators carried placards with the messages:
Our Taxes For Jobs & Housing, Not For Billionaires.
No Arena. No Extreme Density. No Eminent Domain."
"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
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing
and destroying them