Best power-to-the-people movement - 2006
Movement for Justice in El Barrio
Few activist groups have the revolutionary, power-to-the-people feel of Movement for Justice in El Barrio. The 235-strong immigrant organization was formed in East Harlem back in December 2004, reaching out to the mainly Mexican immigrants in the neighborhood. In the years since, it has taken on residents' number one social-justice issue: housing. The movement has gone after about a half-dozen notoriously abusive landlords, organizing tenants one dilapidated building at a time. And its members have persisted in the face of real violence and harassment. Indeed, landlords have reportedly reacted to the El Barrio effort by threatening tenants with eviction or, worse, calls to U.S. immigration officials. One landlord even attacked the El Barrio director, Juan Haro, and punched another tenant leader in the face after stumbling upon an organizing meeting in the lobby. Haro called the cops; the landlord was arrested. It's all in an activist's day's work in East Harlem.