A Harlem minister is leading a bizarre boycott of businesses in his neighborhood with the goal of forcing stores out of Harlem to ease rising rent pressure. Rev. James Manning heads Atlah Ministries on West 123rd St. and believes that if money stops flowing to Harlem stores, they will go out of business and rents in the neighborhood will decrease. This actually makes sense to us in that yes, a self-imposed economic blight, with rows of vacant storefronts, would probably lead to lower property values. Still, it doesn't seem like the best or even sensible idea. Nonetheless, Reverend Manning is committed to encouraging Harlemites to travel outside of a zone between 110th and 155th Streets to do their shopping until May 2010 or until Harlem is an affordable economic wasteland.
A spokesperson for Councilwoman Inez Dickens, who represents Harlem, said that while they respected Rev. Manning, they didn't think a boycott of area businesses would be helpful to residents. AM New York asked around the neighborhood and found few who'd heard of the boycott, but when told about it some people seemed receptive to the idea. The booklet explaining the boycott and including a list of targeted businesses in Harlem can be read here (pdf file). It's certainly interesting.