We did it! We stopped them from laying down the foundation! But Our fight isn’t over!
Here is how we did it.
I had been told that Hudson CO. were going to start laying down the foundation on Friday, however it normally takes a few days to a few weeks to do such a large foundation, because you don’t want to rush something as vital as a foundation to a building. However, because you never know, I called my PR people and said be on standby just in case something happens tomorrow. And sure enough it did!
At 10:00 am I got a text from Suki (a PPEN representative) stating the foundation had commenced. So I called her and said yes, I know but it takes a few days and aren’t your people going to court today to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)? She said yes, but Hudson Co. plans on laying the entire foundation today! They have over 100 cement trucks coming and began working at 6am in the morning. She reminded me of my promise to get arrested if it came down to this and felt this was the time for me to either put up or shut up!
So I knew at that moment, this was a do or die situation. I told her wait, let’s get organized and plan what we are going to do, because it make no sense to do a demonstration or get arrested that no one knows about. We set a time for 12pm to do the demonstration, giving me enough time to get the word out to my PR contacts to notify the media as well as to get anyone else willing to come out in an emergency.
Now of course I didn’t quite believe Suki, when she said a hundred cement trucks, but that truly was the case. There was traffic back up for days on Flatbush Ave and they had lines and lines of cement trucks moving in and out of the site.
They had organized a time system, to lay the foundation one after the other as the trucks arrived at coordinated times. We got there at exactly 12 p.m. and began our protest and for one and half hours we stalled this construction site! There may have been about six to eight of us willing to stand in front of those Mac trucks with our physical bodies, chanting slogans, raising signs and getting interviewed by reporters, and TV News!
We had blocked one entrance and they open up another entrance so we thinned ourselves out and covered both entrances. Thus there were at times one to three people on one entrance and the same for the others, but we held fast, refusing to budge, as the police arrived, and more police arrived and more police arrived.
The argument that was presented to the police was that a TRO was being decided upon in the Supreme Court in Manhattan and this construction site was purposely trying to circumvent the law and the authority of our judicial system to rule on the article 78 pending, by laying down the foundation, which would make this lawsuit mute! But then they have been doing that all along, (circumventing the law) so why stop now!
One site manager was livid, demanding that we move, threatening us with lawsuits, talking about how we were ruining the cement that was just sitting in the trucks unable to be laid and taking photos of us as evidence.
After one hour and fifteen minutes, it was decided that we probably had used up all our delayed tactics and there were two options, leave and go to the Court house and wait for a decision there and/or to get arrested as a final symbol of our willingness to prevent this site from going up in our neighborhood.
I reminded the others of my open promise to the community, on April 7, when I first entered into this fight, that I would face prison if I had to and I was willing to stand by my word. Just at that moment the trucks began to roll into the site and I again, alone this time, began to place myself in front of them. Several times both construction workers and police officers blocked my way but eventually the police realizing I wasn’t going to back down arrested me. I was handcuffed, placed in a smelly cell, given a disorderly summons and released.
However, while I was meditating and praying in that smelly cell, a decision was reached to grant the TRO. Later we were told that this is the first time that a community group had been granted a TRO against a development company – talk about a miracle!
I was also told that the head of Hudson Co. was in court and that his attorney was so blatantly arrogant, that he actually told the Judge that the he didn’t have the authority to grant the TRO. I guess he was wrong. The State Attorneys (because this is tax payer’s money!!), were also present in the room but refused to speak on the matter.
Other Good News.
Hudson Co. is scared, that is why they tried to lay the foundation down in one day. They are afraid if we make too much noise and show our opposition to this project that the money lenders (our state officials) will withdraw this money from the project, request that they work with the community, get an environmental study done and/or some other intervening measure.
The state attorneys were present but silent meaning they aren't making a public position, this could indicate that this issue can be decided with public pressure!
Which means we still can do this! It is still possible to stop this tragedy from happening, but we need your help!
What Can You Do Now!
Now we put pressure where it needs to go, we put pressure on the money lenders and that is our state officials! We demand that funds for this project be withdrawn! We demand an investigation into this whole sordid event, from no environmental study, to no community involvement, to discrimination against families, to no union labor, to the use of public funds to pay for the wealthy to live off of the backs of the poor and moderate income families, to the destruction of our park view!
We demand public hearings where we can present evidence in the form of environmental studies, testimonies and other evidence to prove exactly what this development will do to our community and to our park! No closed behind scene deals, everything needs to be out in the open, so that our voices are heard and respected, so our community is not abused and torn apart, so our view of the park is held sacred.
Now is the time to contact your State Representatives. Starting with....
Jessie Hamilton (347) 770-5054 and (917) 553-7953 (who wants to be our next State Senator and let him know if he isn't for us than he's against us!)
State Senator Kevin Parker (718) 629-6401 (who's responsible for this mess in the first place!)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at (518) 474-8390
Stop the funding to Hudson Co. for 626 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn NY
Next look out for our online campaign on Wed. June 4 to send emails to your Senate representatives and Governor and make sure you click the button and forward it to others!
Lastly we need for you to come out and demonstrate, because we have power in numbers! There is a demonstration on the Steps of City Hall in Manhattan on Friday, June 6 from 1-2 p.m.. Please come out. Take an extended lunch break, we really do need your support!