The Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN) held their first borough-wide march against displacement, corporations and racism on Saturday morning, ahead of Tuesday’s municipal primaries.
The group began at Barclays Center and marched toward Bushwick, with six rally stops along the way. More than 100 grassroots organizations and groups endorsed the protest.
“We must be at the forefront of the solutions, but we cannot do it without addressing gentrification,” an UPROSE speaker said.
There was heavy police presence at the march, partly because BAN was unable to attain a sound permit.
According to BAN, the group applied for a sound permit on July 20 to hold a rally at Barclays; they allege the 78th precinct purposely stalled their application with the goal of preventing the demonstration.
Protesters adjusted to the issue by echoing the speakers, phrase by phrase, while at Barclays. They then proceeded towards Bushwick.
Many protesters were motivated to join the protest because they believe they have personally been affected by the uptick in gentrification which has occurred in recent years. 23-year-old Brooklyn resident Joelle — who asked that her last name not be used for the story — marched because her mother struggles with homelessness, which she attributes to rent increases.
Jimmy Lopez, an organizer with the Southwest Brooklyn Tenant Union, protested to highlight what the community would lose should gentrification continue.
“I march because I believe in an affordable and diverse Brooklyn. We’re losing students, artists, culture. We’re losing creativity and innovation,” Lopez said. “Brooklyn’s not for the super rich — it’s for everyone.”
Million Hoodies NYC chapter organizer Jackie Bediako said Saturday’s protest was especially crucial because the people most adversely affected by gentrification are those who often have reason to avoid protesting.
“You know, I’m representing the people who can’t be here because they work or because they’re physically unable or because they’re afraid,” Bediako said. “I mean, look, we’re having a peaceful protest and we’re being heavily policed right now.”
But the main reason protesters marched to Bushwick Saturday, making stops at places like apartment developments and New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton’s office, was to remind people to vote in the fast-approaching municipal primary. The organization has been critical of several elected officials on the ballot early this week.
BAN, for example, has put the de Blasio administration under fire for its stance on “broken windows” policing. De Blasio favors the “broken windows” method and has called it “the right approach.” The group has also condemned Laurie Cumbo — the council member for the City Council’s 35th District, which includes parts of Brooklyn — for what they regard as pro-developer positions that spawn gentrification.
“Tuesday, we have the chance to change some really deep shit in our communities,” organizer Alicia Boyd said.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NYU LOCAL.