Chinatown & LES Reclaim Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Demand Mayor DeBlasio to Step Down for Racist Rezoning
On January 16, 2017; The Citywide Alliance Against Displacement held a rally at City Hall to demand Mayor DeBlasio step down for promoting racist rezoning plans that target communities of color and to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.‘s legacy of ﬁghting against racial and economic injustice all over the country. The Alliance said it chose this day to hold the rally to reclaim the day from politicians like Mayor DeBlasio who use celebrations on this day to cover up their own racist policies.
The city is facing a crisis of displacement, as the city government has encouraged luxury developments in communities of color like Harlem, Williamsburg, Lower East Side and Chinatown, causing high-rent and real estate tax increase in these neighborhoods. As a result, tenants are facing evictions, small businesses are closing, jobs are being lost, and communities are being destroyed. Mayor DeBlasio, the so-called “progressive” mayor, nevertheless helps perpetuate the City’s legacy of racism and displacement On the one hand, he refuses to pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan that will protect all of Chinatown and Lower East Side. On the other hand, he imposes his developer-friendly rezoning proposals in neighborhoods like East Harlem, South Bronx, East New York, lnwood and Flushing, despite overwhelming community opposition to his plan. Last year, over 90% of community boards throughout the city rejected Mayor DeBlasio’s citywide rezoning policies.
Protesters also pointed to the numerous investigations on Mayor DeBlasio and his administration for his ties to the real estate industry and “pay to play” accusations. As numerous front-page stories have shown, the Mayor has hired real estate company staffers to formulate his housing policy, and given enormous power to people with close ties to developers and Wall Street firms. Therefore, it is not surprising that his housing plan reads like the real estate lobby’s wish list. The investigations of the DeBlasio administration has revealed a dangerous disregard for our communities and preference for developers who would displace us all.
The Citywide Alliance Against Displacement feels an urgent need to reclaim Martin Luther King Jr. from politicians like Mayor DeBlasio and those elected officials who stand along with him to push for displacement; they turn around and seek to use celebrations on this day as a fig leaf for their own racist policies. The legacy of Civil Rights should be one of ordinary people standing against injustice and racism, but the hypocritical stance of politicians and their puppets on this day has corrupted that legacy.
At the event the Citywide Alliance Against Displacement presented their demands:
1. End racism in city planning. Pass community-based “People First” plans like the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan.
2. End public funding for luxury development, such as 421-a. Instead, use public resources to preserve and build more permanent low-income housing.
3. Stop privatization of public land and assets.
4. Mayor DeBlasio and those in City Council who also collude with developers to step down.
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