They sat down for justice.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Democratic district leader Nick Rizzo, and four others got themselves arrested on March 24 during a rally to support two daycare centers and a senior center in Williamsburg that are in danger of imminent closure.
The firebrands sat in the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Ainslie Street and chanted as hundreds of protestors egged them on from the sidewalk. They made the move — or lack thereof — to draw attention to their agenda of keeping the facilities open, they said.
“This is an incredibly important issue that affects hundreds of the most vulnerable people in our community, and unfortunately, one of the best ways to get attention as a politician is to get yourself arrested,” said Rizzo. “It is a sign that you are saying, ‘Enough. I am going to throw my body on the gears of this machine.’ ”
Police charged all six with disorderly conduct for obstructing traffic and failure to disperse.
They planned ahead of time to do what they could to get the police to arrest them, Rizzo said.
“We submitted our names and information days in advance to get processed faster,” he said.
The 40-year-old Swinging Sixties center, which offers activities for hundreds of seniors and also houses the Small World Daycare and Learning Center, has been on the chopping block since November of 2013, when father-and-son team Victor and Harry Einhorn bought the building for $4.5 million — $1.5 million less than the amount offered by housing-advocacy group Saint Nick’s Alliance, which has been trying to save the hub. The Einhorns quickly moved to raise the rent and sent their new tenants eviction notices the following month.
Advocates for the center have managed to keep the eviction tied up in court for the past year and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) has proposed a bill that would allow the city to take the building under eminent domain. That bill is still working its way through the assembly, and Lentol said he expects the bill to be voted on in April.
Small World is not the only daycare in the area under threat. Nuestros Ninos Day Care Center on S. Fourth Street is also threatened by a landlord that wants to kick the kids out to build luxury housing. And the owners of a building on the corner of Manhattan Avenue at Meserole Street evicted the Bushwick United daycare in December 2014.