The so-called Lower East Side Slacktivists plan to highlight an ongoing East Village landlord-tenant battle next weekend by carrying donuts and cake—shaped like a turd and covered in brown frosting—to an E. 3rd street landlord’s front door, telling the controversial tenement owner to go “eat shit!”
The landlord, Alistair Economakis is seeking to evict 15 rent-stabilized tenants from 47 East 3rd Street, in the hope of turning the building into a large one-family mansion. While normally next to impossible, an owner-occupancy clause allows landlords to boot tenants if they plan to make the home their primary residence.
While landlords are increasingly using owner-occupancy exceptions to remove tenants from rent-stabilized properties, it has never been attempted on such a grand scale. The struggle still isn’t close to over and a court decision could remain two years off.
The building is too large for this law to apply, particularly when the renovation plans include a gym and library, the tenants argue in legal papers and on their web site 47e3.org. So far six tenants have settled and nine remain in court. They also speculate that Economakis must have some other money making scheme in mind, although Economakis protests such claims are absurd because he wouldn’t waste five years and thousands of dollars without a good reason. On his own web site, Economakis deems this protest a threat to his family and property.
This flyer states it is the work and the expression of a group identifying themselves as “LES” and is offensive on numerous fronts: not only for its profanity (is this really what our neighborhood children should be taught is an acceptable way to express oneself?) but for attributing to me the statement “Let Them Eat Cake”. I never made this statement nor any other like it. I find the statement offensive; and further I find its attribution to me to be threatening. As the statement was invoked to justify the death and destruction that came with the French Revolution, I hope that persons attending the protest do not mistakenly use it to justify the destruction of property.
The East Village activists, dubbed Slacktivists by the Post‘s Page Six, crusaded two weeks ago to protest the opening of the Bowery Wine Co., an event rallying against “Yuppie scum.”
This time they plan to protest gentrification neighborhood-wide, as well as stop by the wine store to apologize to the store’s owner, Chris Sileo. He lashed out against the protesters in an Observer article with the statement, “I’m more of a New Yorker than any of these moron protesters” and a mention of his grandfather’s East Village watering hole called Luigi’s. Ironically, their protest may have helped his business, so he is graciously offering some free pizza, which the Slacktivists want to accept.
If this story isn’t strange enough already, the Slacktivists will also offer cake and donuts to any police they encounter.
From the wine bar, they will head to first-wave gentrification building Red Square and then to Tompkins Square Park. Their last move will be to march back up to Union Square, according to blogger Bob Arihood.
Even if recent protests have failed to ignite the type of change activists are looking for just yet, participants this time around can at least expect to be well fed.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2008