Martin Luther King Jr. Day Protest

No to Racism! Fight for Equal Protection!

On January 16th the Citywide Alliance Against Displacement is holding a rally at City Hall to reclaim Martin Luther King Jr. Day for genuine anti-racist work in our communities. Martin Luther King Jr. fought against the injustice of racism and poverty all over this country, and stated that “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice”. We are reclaiming this day as a day to commemorate the history of civil rights and the fight against racism and displacement. We see the need to fight the same patterns of racism and economic injustice in our city today and for real social transformation for the people, by the people.

Right now, our city is facing a crisis of displacement as ever-increasing numbers of people are being forced out of their homes and communities and the homeless population reaches record highs. Through pro-developer zoning policies, Mayor de Blasio has encouraged luxury developments in communities of color like Harlem, Williamsburg, the Lower East Side and Chinatown, causing high rents and real estate tax increases in these neighborhoods. As a result, tenants face evictions, small businesses are closed, jobs are lost, and the culture and uniqueness of each of these communities is completely erased.

Mayor de Blasio, the so-called “progressive” mayor who vowed to end “the tale of two cities,” 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 the whole community of Chinatown and the Lower East Side; on the other hand, he imposes his developer-friendly rezoning proposals in neighborhoods like East Harlem, the South Bronx, East New York, Inwood and Flushing, despite overwhelming opposition to the Mayor’s plan (over 90% of the city’s Community Boards voted against it). But the Mayor continues to push forward racist rezonings claiming he is advancing integration. But how is it “integration” when in fact, rich people move in, while working families and people of color are forced to move out?

Additionally, Mayor de Blasio is under investigation 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 de Blasio administration has revealed a dangerous disregard for our communities and preference for developers who would displace us all.

Despite the clear record of racism and corruption, Mayor de Blasio has recently been trying to mend his tattered image by claiming he will protect immigrants and people of color from Donald Trump’s presidency. Whereas Donald Trump’s presidential campaign revealed his openly racist and deeply oppressive beliefs toward many groups of people, Mayor de Blasio is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Just how does Mayor de Blasio intends to protect communities of color and immigrants when he is destroying the very foundation of these communities through his racist rezoning policy? Displacement destroys the very fabric of our communities: the place where we live, work, go to school, become friends with our neighbors, own small businesses, disagree with each other, share histories with each other and grow and build a community together with its own unique culture and people. It is clear that, rather than genuinely fighting racism, Mayor de Blasio is actually promoting racism while exploiting the Trump victory for his own political aspirations.

The Citywide Alliance Against displacement feels an urgent need to reclaim Martin Luther King Jr. from politicians like Mayor de Blasio 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. Would Martin Luther King Jr. support so-called “progressive” politicians who are perpetuating racism and displacing communities of color? No. He would stand with people fighting against those policies. We are calling on people around the city to join us in reclaiming MLK day. We will work together to form an alliance of people around the five boroughs who have a vision for justice and equality for New York City. We want an end to racism and displacement, and it is up to us to do it.

Join us to demand:

  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 de Blasio and those in City Council who also collude with developers to step down.
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