Skip to main content

Rower who fights AIDS and seeks slave trade “healing process” champions Barclays

Is Barclays Capital getting its reputation fluffed by Victor Mooney?

African-American activist Mooney has been trying to call attention to the global tragedy of AIDS, while retracing the route of slave ships. Remember, he’s the guy (born in Brooklyn, lives in Queens, works in Brooklyn) who used the “Atlantic Yards boathouse” to build the boat he aimed to row solo from Senegal to Brooklyn.

(Above, Mooney with Borough President Marty Markowitz as the rower achieved a 48-hour marathon at Borough Hall in 2004 before National HIV Testing Day.)

Mooney's bold "Goree Challenge" last year got a lot of ink, and some sponsorship, including from Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, which donated space in a building it had purchased. However, his voyage, cut short to three hours last May 6 because of a leak, garnered less notice. Mooney’s dream was to raise a million dollars in his effort to be the first African-American to row solo; rather, most donations were in-kind, and he raised only $6000.

Barclays on the bow

Today Mooney’s holding a press conference to announce a new architectural design for his second trans-Atlantic rowing effort, presaged by a press release headlined, “New York City marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with ‘Barclays Center on the Bow’.”

If you read it literally, you might think that the city itself is linking up with Barclays to fight AIDS.

Barclays Capital is neither a sponsor nor has Mooney solicited money from the company for his Goree Challenge II, according to an article in today's Metro. Still, it’s a curious coincidence that, in the midst of a tense public debate about Barclays’ alleged ties to slavery, a black man of unassailable virtue would step forth to endorse the bank.

Also, it’s odd that Mooney, who’s offering "Logo Most Prominently Displayed on Boat" in exchange for a $50,000 sponsorship opportunity, would donate valuable promotional real estate nearly ten months before the December 1 voyage.

Could Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, eager to ensure that the Barclays Center naming rights deal at Atlantic Yards gets a boost, have nudged Mooney on this? Or was it all Mooney's idea?

Mum on the controversy

So, why Barclays? The press release offers a bit of a non sequitur:
Mooney added, "For the first time, our ancestors were memorialized in this way. It is my belief, that those that survived the Middle Passage would want us to help the next generation. Barclays PLC brings that opportunity to Brooklyn."

Couldn't "helping the next generation" be attributed to numerous companies and organizations?

Even though Mooney put "Middle Passage" and Barclays in consecutive sentences, he steered clear of the controversy in Metro:
Mooney wouldn’t comment about the Barclays flap, but said, “I’m glad Barclays is in Brooklyn. They’ve been on the forefront of fighting AIDS in Africa.”

The press release continues [errors in original]:
"After loosing one brother to AIDS and another living with the disease, I join countless others who know the impact of this preventable disease. Brooklyn is the epic center of AIDS cases. Brooklyn is fortunate to have a corporate citizen who has clearly demonstrated their will to combat this disease. Through encouraging testing for HIV, providing anti-retroviral medicine for its employees in Africa and raising awareness of the disease truly epitomizes a serious commitment, Mooney concluded."

Barclays isn't yet operating in Brooklyn. Yes, Barclays has helped fight AIDS in Africa, though, given the high rates of infection, combating AIDS has become a business cost for many multinationals operating around the continent.

Healing process

Anyone bold enough to row solo across the Atlantic must be driven, but Mooney’s statements suggest some grandiosity (or maybe just sloppy editing). In the press release, he claims:
"The healing process for the trans Atlantic Slave trade began on May 7, 2006 when my homemade boat had a leak and sunk off the coast of Senegal. I attempted to row from Goree Island, Senegal to The Brooklyn Bridge.” (Goree Island was once a prison and auction site for captured Africans.)

The healing process began with Victor Mooney? Isn’t anyone else responsible for reparations, historical memory, and political discussion?

Mooney's explanations aren't clear, since Metro reports:
[Mooney said] "My row wasn’t about the people who were in slavery. The issue we’re fighting is HIV/AIDS.”

Does Mooney’s endorsement of Barclays further the healing process? Barclays may not deserve some of the charges thrown its way, but, as historian Christopher Leslie Brown told the New York Times, "Barclays is not unusual in being connected to the history of slavery, nor is it unusually innocent.” And Barclays’ presentation of its record in South Africa is a little self-serving.

What’s news

The announcement of a new design for Mooney's quixotic project may not be as civicly important as, say, an apparent doubling of the city’s commitment to the Atlantic Yards project, and the concomitant decline of net economic benefits. But it's good copy, so expect some follow-up reports today and tomorrow.

As for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, here are the official sponsoring organization and the city health department's AIDS page.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…