When Jay-Z opens the Barclays center tonight, some of the 19,000 fans attending the concert will first have to pass through a small but dedicated smattering of protesters waving picket signs and singing songs. Despite the arena's official ribbon cutting last week, a small but vocal group of activists are still protesting in front of the controversial venue.
Atlantic Yards developers' failure to build promised affordable housing has been a core complaint from anti-Barclays protestors.
"The first thing that should have happened was public housing," said Susan Ensley, member of the satirical protest group Billionaires for Barclays. "They wouldn't do eminent domain up on Fifth Avenue."
"Which side are you on, Jay-Z?" sang Steve Baldwin, member of the Occupy Wall Street Guitarmy, outside the arena today. OWS protestor and neighborhood resident Kanene Holder (seen above performing as "American Justice") voiced concerns about the lack of full-time jobs coming out of Barclays, saying "You can't afford to go to college on a part-time job." Yesterday, the Guitarmy released this 100% authorized mashup of classic protest song "Which Side Are You On?"with Jay-Z's "U Don't Know"
Daniel Goldstein, the poster boy for much of the furor, has organized the Atlantic Yards Crime Scene Weekend, which will screen the film Battle For Brooklyn tonight and culminate with a protest march and art exhibit tomorrow.
Still, with the Barclays Center a fait accompli and the Nets season set to start November 1st, the protestors face an uphill battle against the excitement and hype that the arena is already generating. And come mid-November, they will have a new force to contend with: The Beliebers.