It's really happening: After dogged protest and a series of seemingly intractable lawsuits, developer Bruce Ratner is breaking ground right now on a new arena for the Nets, to be called Barclays Center. And the irate protests are continuing even as the ceremony—attended by Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg—takes place right now. In his speech, Borough President Marty Markowitz acknowledged the raucous demonstrators outside the press conference, but played it for laughs, saying, "Sorry about the noise outside. Obviously disgruntled Knicks fans." Ha ha, or people who are being forced out of their homes! We've heard over the police scanner that the NYPD is now calling for a "Level 3 Mobilization" (sounds serious!) to deal with the protesters.

After stopping by a pre-protest outside the doomed Freddy's Bar and Grill, Curbed followed them as they marched over to the site. Joey Arak is liveblogging from the media circus, where no expense has been spared to ply the press with succulent turkey and lobster roll sliders. Spike Lee is in the joint, as are Jay-Z and Rev. Al Sharpton. The proceedings began with an invocation, during which a reverend prayed for Paterson "as he is besieged on every side." Say what you want about the embattled Governor, he's still got his sense of humor, taking the mic with the comment, "Thank you, Reverend. I thought I was at my own funeral for a second."

22 families and companies in the project's footprint received letters last week informing them that if they don't leave voluntarily by April 3rd, they'll be forcibly evicted. Daniel Goldstein, a longtime opponent of the project whose condo was seized by eminent domain, tells the Daily News he won't leave until he gets a personal order from a judge: "It's a meaningless letter written ... to scare me."