Whine tasting! Activists, wine-lovers clash outside Industry City event

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This one was zesty, with notes of sour grapes.

Sunset Park activists uncorked their ire toward Industry City on May 21, demonstrating outside of the Brooklyn Crush wine-tasting, which locals griped was too snooty for the neighborhood’s good. Protestors told revelers leaving the bourgeois bacchanal that patronizing Industry City — the private manufacturing campus that is home to hipster dance parties and Manhattan-fleeing fashionistas — accelerates gentrification in the working-class, immigrant nabe. But the display left a bitter taste in tourist’s mouths, some said.

“To feel the neighborhood go, ‘We don’t want you here’ — it’s like, ‘Alright, well f--- you then.’ They’re alienating the people they want help from,” said New Jersian Tom Laughlin.

About 25 demonstrators charged that Sunset Parkers can’t afford to shop at Industry City’s stores, yuppie tourists don’t venture into local mom-and-pops, and landlords are salivating to turn neighboring taquerias into tony organic markets. Hosting private events like the $75 wine-tasting throws gasoline on the fire, activists said.

“They made it clear that their vision is to turn Sunset Park into the next SoHo, the next Chelsea,” said Ana Orozco, a Harlem resident who works for Sunset Park social-justice group Uprose. “They’re hosting events for people with money, and they’re trying to attract people from Manhattan into the space, because without that type of clientele, they won’t be able to maintain the high-end retail or restaurants.”

But protesters were stereotyping — and they stomped on any chances Laughlin and his wife would stick around and soak in some local flavor, he said.

“We’re both blue-collar all the way — neither of us have any college,” said Laughlin, a warehouse manager whose wife works for a forklift-rental company. “Maybe, based on Brooklyn Crush, we would have stayed here for the evening, but based on [demonstrators], now we feel guilty, and so we’re gonna get back to Manhattan as quick as we can.”

Protesters said they weren’t trying to push people away.

“I don’t want to ruin anyone’s good time,” said Sunset Parker and tenant-organizer Sam Wicks, who had a heated exchange with an allegedly tipsy Laughlin. “This is our way and the message we want to communicate. It’s a healthy debate. Unfortunately, it got a little ugly in the end. He was obviously impaired.”

Industry City touted last fall that nearly half the 4,000 workers its tenants employ live within a few miles, are people of color, and have no college degree.

And landlords’ decisions outside the multi-block waterfront campus, are out of the Industry City’s hands, its chief executive told this paper last fall.

“We can only control what we can control, and what we can control is taking a place that had very few jobs and no investment for 30 years and turning it into a place where there are lots of jobs, and a very good number of which go to local folks,” said Andrew Kimball.

But there have been failures. Struggling 3D printer producer Maker Bot expanded its Industry City forge to great fanfare last year, hiring dozens of factory-floor workers and months later announcing it would sack them and move production overseas.

New interest in once-hardscrabble Sunset Park is a double-edged sword, but the city — not private enterprise — is responsible for protecting longtime residents, according to a Brooklyn-raised wine-lover leaving the Industry City party.

“When I was growing up in Bensonhurst, you didn’t come here — it was Bay Ridge or bust,” said 28-year-old Brighton Beacher Aly, who declined to give a last name. “Yes, it will start to develop — that will drive the price up. But at the same time, there was no one coming here that didn’t live here [in the 1990s and 2000s]. We need to find a balance, and that’s something we need to talk to the city about.”

Reach deputy editor Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I had to quit reading when I got to the Manhattan resident traveling to Brooklyn to protest wine.

I'm so old I remember the stupid arguments conservatives made against John Kerry and Obama for being so snooty that some of their supporters drank wine. Now it's 2016 and people remain just as stupid.

Writing disdainful comments in the Brooklyn Paper (what I do) is a MUCH better way to waste your life than traveling to another borough to protest wine.
May 23, 2016, 7:51 am
Wanda from Brooklyn says:
Ew, these are professional agitators. A woman from Harlem wants to change Sunset park because it doesn't meet her fantasy of how a neighborhood should be?
Let something nice come to what was otherwise in disuse. If you had a better idea, you would do it. Instead, all she can do is criticize others for trying. Nothing would please this person.
May 23, 2016, 10:18 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Not surprised to see that UPROSE was involved in this nonsense. The underlying basis of the protest was racist. UPROSE wants to preserve its power base, and that power base is threatened if Sunset Park improves. Newsflash to UPROSE; you don't own Sunset Park, and never did. Change is coming. Deal with it productively and responsibly or get swept away.
May 23, 2016, 10:19 am
Andrea from Clinton Hill says:
Going to a Beyoncé concert, baseball/ basketball game or Kanye West fashion show cost much more than enjoying a classical concert or modern ballet. The movies are more expensive than most museums.

Big man sandwiches or Cubano platters cost as much or more than a hearty organic salad.

Time Warner Cable costs more than reading a books.

Keeping a SUV in the city costs more than riding a bike and using public transportation.

Can$er inducing cigarettes. Diabete$ inducing soda.

Many children take up costly squarefeet and more often than not are polluters.

No, I'm not a Bloomberg person.
May 23, 2016, 2:08 pm
Ricardo from Williamsburg says:
...don't forget slave labor toxic weekly manicures$ and overpriced $neakers$.

Has anyone been to the Aqueduct race track, since its expansion? Horses are a sideshow. It's all Chinese and seniors blowing away their life savings on machine slots.

Have you seen the bottleneck 50 lane highway to Beijing? The packed Nanjing pool during a heatwave. BIGGER, MORE, FASTER, CHEAPER, TOXIC, CROWDED. Flushing vibrancy is an exercise in developing dilapidation. I love Chinatowns, but only so much.

Japan has to create designated areas for Chinese tourists, so they don't destroy the Cherry trees.

China is devouring itself. Nature, wildlife DESTROYED and spreading. Adults without foresight ceaselessly birth cute lovable children dressed in polyester bows, because who gives a sht about anything else, particularly their futures.
May 23, 2016, 3:27 pm
Jimmy from Bedstuy says:
These foolish activists (Uprose). This woman (Ana Orozco) from Harlem is so idiotic that she's pathetic. They should be arrested for interfering people's freedom of movement and doing business. Political correctness has gone out of control and taken advantage of for selfish agenda ( of Uprose).
May 23, 2016, 5:48 pm
I love wine, yet from Greenpoint says:
There use to be a sense of liberty. I don't think I even want the streetcar, locked to its track. It's all so claustrophobic, as though God, the EDC expects artists to wear rainbow spandex leotards and perform mime acrobatics, imagining ourselves in Key West blowing bubbles for the hordes able to shuttle themselves there. What is this demented version of globalization, dripping in gilt? I don't believe this is utopian, do you?
May 23, 2016, 5:50 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
No Ripple on the menu then?
May 23, 2016, 8:43 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
Great cause UPROSE... Fight industrious people that work hard and want to start businesse on what was largely a vacant complex. This is clear racism.
May 24, 2016, 6:52 am
Tommy from Red Hook says:
It's unfortunate that the leadership of UPROSE apparently lacks the savvy, negotiating and relationship-building skills to leverage the enormous private and public investment on the Sunset Park waterfront for the betterment of the greater community they claim to represent. Oh, the potential... their eyes are just not on the ball.
It's about jobs stupid!
May 24, 2016, 5:49 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Tommy - that is because they represent no interests - they are eternally against. They have no particular goal to achieve anything, they exist to oppose and stand in the way of any proposal or organic change that may happen. Their organization will always exist because they have no end game, no goal.
There is nothing good about professionally trying to prevent life from going on. It's fairly parasitic really.
May 25, 2016, 7:40 am
Wanda from Park Slope says:
Why do these uprose people want to deny the residents of Sunset Park their zesty wine? Do they think that ethnic minorities are not allowed to drink wine? Are they flamming racists?

May 26, 2016, 8:11 am

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