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New York — Councilwoman Rosie Mendez joined Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Senator Brad Hoylman, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Democratic Council District 2 Nominee Carlina Rivera, Democratic District Leader Anthony Feliciano, community residents and members of Save Our Cultural Community Center 64 (SOCCC 64) on November 6, 2017; to celebrate the birthday of the Late Armando Perez (November 3, 1947 — April 3, 1999), co-founder of CHARAS / El Bohio and to thank NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for his announcement at a Town Hall to re-acquire the landmark building.
Armando Perez was a longtime community advocate in the Lower East Side/East Village, a Democratic District Leader, a community board member, and a founding member of the cultural community center. Before Armando was tragically murdered in 1999, he spent every day of the previous year of his life fighting then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani plan to auction off the building. His life’s work coupled with his untimely death became the community’s never ending battle to reclaim the historic landmark building. The building was auctioned off by Mayor Giuliani in 1998, CHARAS was evicted in 1999 and the building has now been vacant for 17 years.
On October 12, 2017 Mayor Bill de Blasio held a Town Hall meeting in Council District 2 and announced the city’s plan to reacquire the building and was met with a standing ovation of approximately 100 residents scattered and seated throughout. Today, the community gathered together on the steps of city hall to formally thank the Mayor for his support of the community’s effort to re-acquire the building that formally housed a cultural community center.
“The Former PS 64 CHARAS/El Bohio was a school building and a cultural community center that cultivated the hopes and dreams of so many people in our community. Community activists, such as Armando Perez, created a space where community members could lay the foundation for community gardens, create urban homesteading buildings, and offer social, recreational, artistic and informational activities. Armando was a true pioneer of the Lower East Side and his legacy will always live on through and outside of the ﬁght for CHARAS,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.
Since the eviction of CHARAS / El Bohio in 2001, our community has lost a tremendous amount of cultural and human services that would have benefited the LES community and New York City.“ said Chino Garcia, Executive Director, CHARAS. “We will continue to fight for the facility that our community needs, now more than ever. It is important that the spirit of Armando continues to live in us.”
“Charas was more than a community center — it was a place that brought art and activism together under one roof.” said Carlina Rivera. Democratic Nominee, Council District 2. “Its loss in the 1990’s was an injustice. Now with the support from the highest office in our city, we hope to bring this building back to life. I am proud to have stood. with my neighbors over the tears demanding its return to the community Armando Perez dedicated his life to.
“The Village Community Coalition looks forward to working with the Mayor’s office, Council Member Mendez and her successor, Community Board 3, CHARAS, our coalition partners and our neighbors to see this cherished landmark returned to true community use.”
“On behalf of LatinoJustice PRLDEF we congratulate the vision of Armando Perez and CHARAS after so many years. We are proud to have played a small role in this community struggle and we commit ourselves to stay woke in the battles to come,” said Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
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