Brooklyn, N.Y., organizers fight gentrification

Brooklyn, N.Y., organizersA forum on Nov. 17 at Brooklyn’s Central Library was packed with at least 120 supporters of the anti-gentrification fight. It was the second in a series of discussions on this topic. The speakers included Alicia Boyd, Imani Henry, Nicole Marwell and Morgan Mumsey. They recalled decades of civil rights struggles against racist Brooklyn landlords and redlining battles regarding housing, as well as discrimination in jobs and schools.

The speakers offered relevant information, including the complicated steps the ruling class takes to obtain gentrification, which has left downtown Brooklyn and other communities infested with luxury high-rises. The low-to-middle-income residents are priced out of the neighborhood as wealthy corporations, real estate developers and landlords favor renting, selling and catering to high-income people. Their luxury means displacement of poor and working-class families, leaving them without available, affordable housing. It is a great loss, especially for communities of color who have called their Brooklyn neighborhoods home for generations.

Two of the community organizers encouraged all to join the fight to maintain affordable housing. Boyd, of the Movement to Protect the People, organizes weekly meetings, along with door-to-door outreach to explain and expose gentrification and the local politicians who allow it. The group uses town hall meetings, protests and legal means for their popular struggle.

Imani Henry, of Equality for Flatbush, a grass-roots group that has multiple campaigns to fight for affordable housing and against police repression, told the gathering: “We are building a gentrification resistance movement. We encourage and will fight alongside residents to sue their landlords to win justice for people, to surround a neighbor whose family is being evicted and help put their things back in the house, to have marches and rallies and do whatever it takes to keep people in their homes. The 1% want to turn our community into playgrounds for the rich, but we say we’re not giving up Brooklyn without a fight!”

Both Boyd and Henry received strong, enthusiastic support in the anti-gentrification fight.