Hundreds of activists marched in opposition to Industry City’s expansion plan on Sept. 27, claiming the development would exacerbate a wide range of social and environmental issues, including mass-incarceration, the Israeli-occupation of Palestine, and climate change.
“We’re saying no to the Industry City proposal because they’re not in the business to help the community and be climate resilient,” said Summer Sandoval, the energy democracy coordinator at a local environmental advocacy organization called Uprose. “We need to move our waterfront from what it is today into a climate-ready waterfront that addresses climate mitigation and resilience.”
Councilman Carlos Menchaca in September published a list of demands Industry City executives would have to meet to secure his approval for an up-zoning, which the developers need to pave the way for a $1-billion, 12-year expansion of the 35-acre waterfront complex.
The protest followed Industry City’s decision to bow to those demands, marking a necessary first step towards the massive redevelopment scheme’s success.
The demonstration kicked off at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue, where activists did not confine themselves to the housing issues usually associated with the development scheme, with some advocates relating Industry City’s expansion plan to global warming
“As there continue to be flood zone areas, higher land property is going to go for more value,” said Marcela Mitaynes, a neighborhood organizer who plans to run for the state Assembly in Brooklyn’s 51st District. “And as it is, folks are having a hard time finding decent affordable housing. People are getting displaced.”
Others connected the development to mass incarceration, deportation, and income inequality, with a whopping 17 advocacy groups — including organizations fighting for LGBTQ representation, pro-Palestinian rights, and prison abolition — participating in the event. According to one organizer, the many causes represented at the march increased the turnout, and helped educate attendees about other issues they may be less familiar with.
“The point that people hopefully leave today with is that the only way to beat the climate catastrophe that will kill us all if we let it is to unite all these struggles together,” said Jacob Friedman, an organizer for an environmentalist advocacy group called Earth Strike NYC.
After a number of speakers had addressed the massive crowds, marchers walked from Fourth Avenue down to 32nd Street waving signs that read “Climate Justice,” “Abolish ICE,” and “Stop capitalist pollution with socialist revolution,” as they sang protest songs and chants. A marching band equipped with horn players and drummers brought up the rear.
“We’re here to set the record straight with Industry City,” Sandoval from Uprose said. “Just because you’ve found a few people in the community who you were able to use does not speak to what the community wants.”