Lower East Side and Chinatown, Rise Up! [OP-ED]
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The following opinion piece was penned by Sophie DeBenedetto, a representative of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side.
For the last few weeks, the Lower East Side has been buzzing with news of a new era. Many different sectors of the community have been coming out to support the adoption of a community rezoning plan. Hundreds of Latino, African American, Chinese and white residents, workers, students and business owners have taken hours out of their busy days to go door-to-door or stand on the street and distribute flyers, posters and petitions in opposition to discriminatory zoning, high rents and displacement, and in support of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) rezoning plan that will protect the entire Chinatown and Lower East Side area in Community District 3. Historically, Chinatown has been pitted against the Lower East Side, using racism to divide us and keep us fighting for crumbs. Now, many people see why we need to march together on City Hall, and are eager to participate.
When New York City adopted the major East Village Rezoning in 2008, Chinatown and [parts of] the Lower East Side were intentionally excluded. The wealthier, white areas of the East Village were afforded height restrictions and zoning protections. As a result, the high-rise, luxury development was pushed into our community, including the 80-story Extell tower with a 13-story “poor door.” Recently, NYC Department of City Planning refused to adopt the CWG rezoning plan, saying it’s too “far-fetched” to give Chinatown and the Lower East Side equal protection to the East Village.
Last month, close to a thousand residents, workers, students, small business owners, and other concerned individuals from Chinatown, the Lower East Side and across the city marched to City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio protect our community from displacement. We delivered a letter to him, requesting that he follow through on his pledge to end the “Tale of Two Cities.” As of today, the Mayor has not responded.
On October 28, we are marching to let the Mayor know that we are continuing to fight until we get the equal protection we should have.
We are calling on all workers, tenants, small business owners, students, teachers, senior citizens and others concerned with the future of our city to take 2 hours on Wednesday and do something to benefit ourselves. March with us to demand adoption of the rezoning plan that will curb the rising property taxes, the skyrocketing rents, and the massive displacement.
Join us n October 28, 3:30pm in front of 227 Cherry Street to let Mayor de Blasio know, we cannot wait any longer.