Friday, September 28, 2012

As 40/40 Club opens the night before arena debuts, a vigil and march draws 150 people, James, Montgomery


Michael D.D. White, in the photo at right, captures an image from the vigil last night that drew about 150 people to gather outside the Barclays Center and then circle it twice in fairly quiet protest. Inside Jay-Z's 40/40 Club was opening for a private, pre-arena-opening party, as detailed in the New York Post video at bottom.

White's photo captures the "Boondoggle Basics" flyer given out by protesting groups (more events today and tomorrow; rain venue 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue) framed by the digital advertising in the arena oculus for the 40/40 Club.

The main sponsors are Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the Fifth Avenue Committee, and Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), which took different postures on Atlantic Yards before it passed, with only DDDB going to court to try to block the project.

Since then, for example, DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks were joined in a successful lawsuit challenging the inadequacy of the environmental review, given that 2009 deal revisions gave developer Forest City Ratner 25 years to build the project. A Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) has been ordered but has not yet begun.

Updated: Perhaps two dozen people came from Occupy Wall Street; they slept overnight on the Flatbush Avenue side of the arena, next to some of the shops, shielded from any rain.

Below are several more videos, most of them brief, that I shot.

The signage in the oculus



The Barclays Center plaza

Before the vigil, at 7 pm, cops gathered at the plaza, while those participating in the vigil gathered across the street



Gathering on Flatbush before vigil, at Bear's Garden



At the plaza




Leading off: the Rev. Dyson

The Rev. David Dyson, former pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, cites "all the people who have been hurt by this project," including families who lost their homes, didn't get good paying jobs, and a "city in need of accountable development."

"Even now, as the arena opens up, we are told that the benefits are coming," he said, citing the promises of "Jobs, Housing and Hoops.")

(At about 1:08, note the presence of Forest City Ratner's designated lurker.)



Apparently relying on Council Member Letitia James's conflation of an elderly decades-long resident who wanted to die in her home (and who did, given the length of the process) and another elderly woman who had a small business in the footprint and was shaken by the threat of eminent domain, Dyson unfortunately maintained the myth: "I always remember remain that 89-year-old woman, Holocaust survivor, who wanted nothing more to die in her home."

(I checked this with Patti Hagan, who did the earliest census on those in the footprint.)

The Rev. Miller & Sen. Montgomery

The Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church declared, "A part of the soul of Brooklyn has been lost because games have been played, and bad deal have been made."

Barclays, he said, financed the Holocaust, apartheid, and the slave trade. (It's a bit more nuanced: the New York Times reported that many banks were enveloped in the slave trade; Barclays withdrew from South Africa only in 1986, decades after activists called for divestment. Barclays collaborated with the Nazis, according to this report, and paid a $3.6 millon settlement in one case.)



Also speaking was state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who declared, rather wishfully, "There was an attempt to utilize this process to divide us, but you never allowed it to happen." In fact, the five groups sponsoring the event differed, as noted above


But the fact that the vigil could only muster two elected officials, longtime project opponents, suggests that other elected officials, even if they didn't express support for the arena by showing up for the Sept. 21 ribbon-cutting, do not want to associate themselves with the opposition.

Council Member Letitia James

"All of us are bracing ourselves" for the traffic emergency announced for today, said James, warning that the project is "a result of no transportation planning at all" and "corporate greed and corporate welfare." (Wait a sec; there was planning, but it was belated and open to question.)



Individuals and business will suffer, James said. Well, certainly some will, though proprietors of bars and restaurants are excited.

"We actually won this struggle," James declared, in what I assume was an effort to highlight community solidarity and a focus on Forest City Ratner's lies in the face of very large evidence that most people think Ratner won.

Part of the march

On the Atlantic Avenue side of the arena, passing the check-in tables for press and VIPs for the Jay-Z event, then to the plaza.



A closing prayer by Rev. Miller

He asked that those who profit from the arena to give back; perhaps there's a role for government and new oversight for Atlantic Yards.




At the party

From the New York Post:
The hottest club in Brooklyn opened on Thursday night, when celebrities and athletes gathered at the Barclays Center and Jay-Z’s 40/40 club.

Nets stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson joined Jay-Z in opening the brand new venue, which overlooks both the playing court and the streets of Brooklyn.

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