This just dropped into our “Inbox” and we couldn’t wait to share it: apparently, the United Nations is going to finally get around to examining the United States’ human rights record — and the first stop on the “human rights watch” tour is the demolished remains of the Albee Square Mall in on the Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn.
On Saturday, workers and business owners who once toiled in the mall will argue that its demolition — and proposed reconstruction with federal stimulus money into an office and apartment tower with mostly luxury, but some affordable, units — is a prime example of how the United States systematically abuses the human rights of its residents.
Now, no knock on the United Nations, but is a simple real-estate deal the best evidence of the “violation of human rights”? You be the judge. Here’s the press release that we just received:
Government Officials, Advocates & Residents to Tour Albee Square, Where Tax Breaks Funded Minority Job Loss
Representatives of US State Department will tour the demolished Albee Square Mall in downtown Brooklyn on Saturday with advocates and community members in preparation for the United Nations Human Rights Council’s first ever review of the US.
For the first time since its founding in 2006, the UN’s Human Rights Council is examining the US’s human rights record, including employment and labor conditions and other economic and social rights. Human rights advocates are cataloguing human rights violations and policy recommendations with the aim of the Obama administration heeding the review’s findings.
Advocates and community members will hold Albee Square mall up as an illustration of local, state, and federal governments exacerbating unemployment and low-wage employment. After Downtown Brooklyn was rezoned in 2004, a real estate developer backed by redevelopment tax breaks purchased and demolished the shopping center, displacing minority small business owners. After being vacant for years, federal stimulus dollars will now be used to rebuild. Although the government is investing more than $20 million taxpayer dollars in the project, there have been no pledges of either living wages or jobs for displaced workers.
After touring the site with government officials, advocates and community members will be available to meet with press on the UN review and the state of the human right to employment and decent work in New York City.
The tour follows an all-day panel discussion with State Department representatives on Friday, February 26th, hosted by the Urban Justice Center, the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, and others on the over-representation of people of color and women in unemployment and underemployment, and other issues in violation of human rights obligations.
Ejim Dike, Urban Justice Center
Valerie Jean, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)
Bettina Damiani, Good Jobs New York
Kristi Barnes, New York Jobs with Justice