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Mayor Mike Bloomberg awkwardly walked past a press conference on the steps of City Hall this morning as advocates criticized him and called on the city to change its housing plans for Brooklyn’s Broadway Triangle.
The group of advocates and residents, with the support of two electeds, had rallied today to urge the city to support inclusive affordable housing in the Broadway Triangle, a plot of city-owned land in north Brooklyn at the heart of the borough’s gentrification tensions. Along with arguing that the city’s plan violates the federal Fair Housing Act, the group came to City Hall today to celebrate a state Supreme Court decision last week that granted a preliminary injunction barring the city from moving forward with its housing development on the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The decision argued that the city’s plan would perpetuate discrimination.
“We want to send our city and our mayor a message about perpetuated segregation in Brooklyn,” said Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, glancing to his left as the mayor walked around the press conference and up the steps of City Hall. “And what is that message? That we don’t accept segregation in Brooklyn.”
The mayor paused and looked back at the rally for a second as folks with signs chanted “Broadway Triangle!”
“We hope the mayor took our message. He heard us loud and clear,” said Ramos, the press conference emcee, after the mayor entered City Hall.
“If not, we’ll see him in court,” interjected Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
The advocates, with support from the New York Civil Liberties Union, argue that the city’s plan would give housing priority to those who live in the predominantly white section of Williamsburg and not the neighboring Community District 3, which is overwhelmingly black.
“We know this fight is just beginning,” City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who represents that part of Brooklyn, told Runnin’ Scared after the conference. Reyna was in the minority opposition when the City Council approved Bloomberg’s plan back in December 2009 — when the legal drama first began.
“I think [the mayor] knew exactly who was on the steps of City Hall,” Reyna said. When asked if she had discussed the issue with the mayor, she added, “I have not been afforded the opportunity to do so….I have hit a stone wall in the past. But I am only looking forward.”
“I am pleased with the court’s decision,” Reyna said during the conference. “However, what I want to see is for the city…to recognize that our community stands together more so today than it ever has, to refine their practices by acknowledging their poor judgement and work with our community for a better plan — a plan that is right for the needs of our community.”
We’ve reached out to the city’s Law Department and are waiting for comment on last week’s decision and the advocates’ criticism of the city plan (The city said last week it will appeal).