A protest to save public housing devolves into chaos, as DSA leaders are exposed for supporting the Blueprint sell-out of NYCHA, leading to a rift amongst the political left in New York.
A new coalition of public housing activists, NYCHA Is Not For Sale, held a protest against the corrupt, neoliberal plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) to bring about the wholesale end to Section 9 public housing. The plan, known as the Blueprint, would create an unaccountable, nebulous State Authority that would rewrite the apartment leases of every public housing tenant, who isn’t already destined for another corrupt, neoliberal scheme — the RAD/PACT conversions that have been the subject of legal controversies.
The protest against the Blueprint turned chaotic when members of the New York City Democratic Socialists — loyalists to the mayor’s political supporters — interrupted the public housing rally with a competing demonstration.
NYCHA Is Not 4 Sale – Protest Against Blueprint – 2 June 2021
A mature, responsible call for political unity was disrupted by the NYC-DSA.
The public housing rally began with plain clothes NYPD officers wearing no badges, names, badge numbers, or body cameras, harassing the public housing activists about their protest signs. Shortly there after, public housing residents and various political candidates denounced Mayor de Blasio’s privatisation schemes for the New York City Housing Authority and called on political unity in support of Federal funding legislation that would pay for the backlog of capital repairs that have been the cause of pain and suffering for public housing residents.
NYCHA tenant association presidents Rev. Carmen Hernandez and Melanie Aucello and NYCHA tenant activist and City Council candidate Lilithe Lozano each repudiated the political betrayal that allowed NYCHA to become nearly uninhabitable. In turn, City Council candidates Lena Melendez and Edwin DeJesus spoke of the moral reasons to fully-fund NYCHA without having to resort to privatisation schemes. And Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president, made a compelling call for Democratic Party unity to support H.R. 235, draft legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives sponsored by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) that would fully-fund NYCHA. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has expressed support for H.R. 235.
A foreshadowing of trouble was observed when Public Advocate Jumaane Williams cast aspersions on the Schumer-Velázquez Federal aid package for NYCHA. Chaos ensued after the NYC-DSA attempted to undermine the public housing protest.
“You can’t shoehorn a working class movement into a corporate party.”
The public housing protest took place outside the eastern security gate to New York City Hall, which is across the street from the office building at 250 Broadway, which, in turn, houses the executive headquarters for NYCHA. Several New York State Legislators also maintain offices in the same building.
Out of sight, members of the NYC-DSA had gathered in City Hall Park for a demonstration for public control of electricity companies. Once the NYC-DSA activists emerged from the park, they acted to block traffic on Broadway between the public housing protest location and the entrance to 250 Broadway, at which point the public housing protest moved into the street.
Not long after, Mr. DeJesus used a megaphone to denounce State Sens. Julia Salazar (DSA-Brooklyn) and Jabari Brisport (DSA-Brooklyn) over their duplicity. In response, NYC-DSA members placed their hands on Mr. DeJesus, pushed him back, and attempted to take his megaphone. Some members of NYCHA Is Not For Sale rushed to use their bodies to block NYC-DSA members from escalating their physical assault. Members of NYCHA Is Not For Sale have questioned the moral clarity of NYC-DSA to claim their espousal for public power when they have allowed Mayor de Blasio to move forward with the privatisation of public housing.
Online, Sen. Salazar downplayed the acts of assault and tore into the criticism by engaging in ad hominem attacks on members of NYCHA Is Not For Sale, at one point making a scurrilous and libelous attack against the entire NYCHA Is Not For Sale coalition by calling them “grifters,” thereby telegraphing to NYC-DSA members that she would destroy the reputations of socialists, who fractured the myth that the NYC-DSA was a political monolith that was expected to serve its leaders. In recent years, politicians, who have exploited the language of social movements for power or personal enrichment, have faced political losses, such as former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-03) and former U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY 14). The political repercussions have also ensnared 2021 political candidates, like Dianne Morales.
According to activists, Mayor de Blasio is urging a vote on the Blueprint on or before June 10, so he can bring about a wholesale end to Section 9 housing before a critical June 14 hearing in the Baez Federal class action case against NYCHA. New York has long exhibited signs of political boss systems from Albany to New York City Hall — and now, apparently, to the NYC-DSA.
NYCHA Blueprint: An End to Public Housing in NYC?
- Mayor Bill de Blasio can’t work alone to sell-out NYCHA before his term is up without the help of other Democrats. Here are some of them. [Fight For NYCHA]
- Judge Pauley ruled that NYCHA can exclude RAD/PACT residents from protections offered by the Revised Consent Decree in the Baez class action mold case [Fight For NYCHA]
- With a proposed plan on the table to fully-fund public housing, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez says no to RAD/PACT at NYCHA [Fight For NYCHA]