This morning, protestors gathered outside the Barclays Center to stage an alternate ribbon cutting ceremony, airing grievances that the Atlantic Yards project has broken its promises of jobs and affordable housing. In lieu of rally cries and speeches, the protestors opted for a slightly different tactic: theater. Indeed, nothing brings the rich and powerful to their knees like ACTING.
With their faces hidden behind two-foot high glossy masks of politicians, the protestors appeared more like a theater troupe than pitchfork mob. Shouts of, "Is anybody wearing Cuomo? Who wants to be Paterson, it's a non-speaking part!" emerged from the pit of around thirty community organizers, who presented a short play satirizing the politics and back room deals which helped build the Barclays center, scheduled to open today.
While their approach may have been non-traditional, the issues they protested are serious. We've known since last year that Atlantic Yards would not be as job friendly as initially promised: Only around 100 out of a promised 1,500 jobs were created for local Brooklynites. But if jobs weren't created, at least the project would be building affordable housing for Brooklyn families, right?
Not so, according to Daniel Goldstein, the Brooklyn gadfly who won a $3 million settlement from Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner . "Forest City Ratner will announce the groundbreaking for the first of sixteen [housing] towers that they got approval to build. But this building will have only nine units of housing affordable to Brooklyn families earning the borough's median income or less," said Goldstein, adding that "Only 35 of the 180 [planned] affordable units are family-sized."
Goldstein cited a laundry-list of offenders including Marty Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, and of course his nemesis / benefactor Bruce Ratner. "I think we've got a situation where the developer is holding 18 acres hostage," Goldstein said. "These acres used to be an active rail yard and home to business and hundreds and hundreds of people," forecasting that now, "It's going to sit there for decades."
Ellen Gorvey, a thirty-year resident of the neighborhood called the development "Grotesque … The notion that this was a blighted area that eminent domain could take is ridiculous."
As the few-dozen residents staged their protests about lost jobs and affordable housing, even more reporters waited down the street for the arena's official opening. And, in other news, people in Manhattan are waiting overnight in line to pay hundreds of dollars for a new cellphone.