Over 100 community members from RTTC-NYC member groups participated in the demonstration at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, interrupting Bloomberg's $250-a-plate luncheon at the "Future of the City" conference attended by CEOs and the City's wealthy elite. The Mayor was caught completely off guard and had to stop his speech while we chanted and delivered a letter demanding that he meet with us.
The action was extremely successful in bringing visibility to Right To The City's collective efforts to demand decision-making power for communities most impacted by gentrification, displacement and criminalization. It also showcased an increased level of interdependence and daring by RTTC-NYC groups. 8 RTTC-NYC members were arrested after the action and spent the night in jail, but the show of support and solidarity during an almost all-night vigil highlighted the kinds of trusting collaborations required to fight for the changes that our communities so desperately need.
The "RTTC 8" were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and have a court date on March 13 (stay tuned for more information!).
Media Coverage of Feb 3 RTTC-NYC Action
Footage of RTTC-NYC Press Conference: HERE
RTTC-NYC Press Release
Right to the City – New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition of Grassroots Groups Who Attended “Future of NY” Conference Denounce Arrest of 8 After Peaceful Protest, Rally Outside Manhattan Jail to Call on Bloomberg to Drop Charges Against Protesters
Right to the City New York Activists Say: Democracy is Not Disorderly Conduct, Continue to Call on Mayor Bloomberg to Meet with Low-Income, Immigrant New Yorkers
New York, NY—Today, Right to the City-New York held a rally and press conference in front of Manhattan’s Central Booking to denounce the NYPD’s arrest of 8 Right to the City-NY (RTTC-NY) organizers after RTTC-NY’s peaceful protest at the “The Future of New York City” conference, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Six of those who were arrested remained after everyone else had left the hotel, under the impression that they would be allowed to speak with a representative from the conference. Instead, they were detained by the NYPD and arrested shortly thereafter. The remaining two, upon learning six organizers had been detained, went back inside the hotel to negotiate for their release, but instead they themselves also were detained and arrested. Ironically, Mayor Bloomberg, after the protesters left the Hyatt ballroom, told the crowd, “I think actually they were right! In most other countries, they throw 'em in the slammer. This is a democracy.”
“According to Mayor Bloomberg, democracy means letting developers and financiers holed up in fancy ballrooms make decisions that impact all of us while locking out low-income people,” said Picture the Homeless member Brandon King. “Democracy apparently means changing the rules so he can run for a third term, ignoring the wishes of most of New York City. Doesn’t look like democracy to me.”
Said FIERCE organizer Glo Ross, “Dissent and non-violent protest are part of any healthy democratic society – we were just exercising our rights yesterday, and yet eight of us were still arrested in retaliation. Start practicing what you preach, Mayor Bloomberg – drop the charges and let the eight go free.”
At 1 p.m. yesterday as Mayor Bloomberg delivered the keynote address to business executives gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel for a conference on “The Future of New York City,” a group of 100 New Yorkers who are part of the grassroots coalition Right to the City-NY entered the conference to demand the Mayor hear the concerns of low-income residents of the city.
Chanting “this is what democracy looks like,” the group attempted to deliver a letter to the Mayor in which they noted the absence of working-class and immigrant New Yorkers at the conference and called for a meeting on the concerns of low-income New Yorkers. After being removed from the conference room, the advocates gathered outside of the Grand Hyatt to voice their priorities and concerns about the future of New York.
Contrary to Mayor Bloomberg’s claims, many of the groups who are part of RTTC-NY have attempted several times over the years to meet with Mayor Bloomberg, but requests have gone unanswered.
The groups who participated in yesterday’s action include: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Community Voices Heard, FIERCE, FUREE, Make the Road New York, Mothers on the Move, the New York City AIDS Housing Network and Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders (VOCAL), Picture the Homeless, Red Hook Initiative, and the Urban Justice Center.
About Right to the City-New York:
RTTC-NY is an alliance made up of and led by grassroots organizations working in low-income, immigrant, and other communities of color throughout NYC to achieve community-led social change. For more information, please visit http://www.righttothecity.org/.