A group of Upper East Side grandmothers was arrested today for protesting the clearing of eight 30-year-old pear trees to make way for a much-contested garbage clearing station.
According to police, one man and six women—three of whom are bona fide grandmothers—were arrested around 7:30 a.m. and charged with disorderly conduct for protesting the tree slaughter at Asphalt Green, as part of construction of the controversial East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.
Though the activists were issued only desk appearance tickets, those involved find it unfortunate that police are expending energy cuffing a group of senior citizens rallying to preserve their green space.
“It’s such a travesty that people had to be arrested over this,” protester and leader of Friends of the East River Esplanade told DNAinfo. “Law abiding citizens, some senior citizens, who are trying to protect a park.”
Asphalt Green reps were notified by email on Tuesday that the trees would be cut down on Wednesday, though the process was delayed until today after community push back. Advocates complained that the Department of Sanitation did not comply with an agreement to conduct a study to determine whether the station's ramp—to be installed at the site formerly housing the pear trees—could be relocated to a less disruptive location. They also argued that the garbage trucks driving in and out of the station will pollute the air surrounding an outdoor recreation area where thousands of children gather to play.
“When you’re arresting grandmas on the Upper East Side and people of color who live in NYCHA developments you’re doing something wrong,” Councilman Ben Kallos told CBS Local. “The police should be doing something other than arresting our grandparents."
Still, at least no one was assaulted this time.