PLEDGE 2 PROTECTNYC
THE ADVANCE GROUP
Contact: Frank Baraff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 914-469-3775
For Release Monday, October 20th, 3:30PM
WHEELCHAIR BOUND PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENT AND VETERAN NY JOURNALIST ARRESTED AT DIE-IN FOR BLOCKING CONSTRUCTION OF DANGEROUS EAST 91ST STREET GARBAGE STATION
Dozens of public housing residents from Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers held a “die-in” demonstration and civil disobedience at 2:30PM today to demand that Mayor de Blasio address the potentially fatal health and safety risks that the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) will impose on their community. They were joined by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Democratic Assembly Candidate Rebecca Seawright. The demonstration was held at the site of the entrance ramp at York Avenue and East 91st Street, adjacent to Asphalt Green. Dressed in masks, bloody gauze and hospital gowns, they symbolically “became ill and died” while blocking the site entrance, protesting that they continue to be treated as the forgotten people by the City and media in this fight.
They “died” to alert New Yorkers that the Mayor is already putting lives at risk by building the MTS, and now won’t commit to taking immediate and significant steps to protect their health and safety, such as moving the facility’s entrance ramp one block north despite the community’s unified opposition to the ramp’s current location. Lorraine Johnson, an activist and wheelchair bound NYCHA resident was arrested.
Lorraine Johnson said, “My neighbors from NYCHA are the forgotten people. We will be the most damaged by the dump, yet the city and the media keep saying that this struggle is about rich people who want to keep something unpleasant out of their neighborhood. Look at us! We are not rich. Many of us are not white. We live in public housing. We will be run over by trucks and poisoned by air pollution. I am being arrested today because we will not be ignored. We will be heard.”
Ms. Johnson, a long-time Stanley Isaacs resident, lived in the neighborhood when the first MTS at this site was in operation, when fewer people lived nearby. She and her neighborsprotested that the City is continuing to build a much larger MTS with deadly risks for residents of densely populated Yorkville and East Harlem. They protested that work is continuing at the MTS ramp while discussions over the future of the site, the position of the ramp (if the MTS is built) and the need for this kind of garbage station are ongoing. The ramp cuts through Asphalt Green endangering more than 34,000 children from every borough who use the sports and fitness facility.
Hundreds of dangerous garbage trucks entering and exiting the station will travel through numerous intersections and residential streets where pedestrians cross regularly, posing a serious traffic safety threat. The demonstrators also protested that the City has not committed to conducting testing or monitoring of the deadly air pollutants that will be produced by the garbage trucks and the fleet of tug boats that will transport the garbage down the East River to Staten Island.
Congresswoman Maloney questioned those who seek to spin the issue as one of environmental justice. “Where is the environmental justice of putting this next to children? Where is the environmental justice of putting it next to public housing?
Arrested with Ms. Johnson was veteran NYC journalist and author Michael Cannell, known for his writings on sports and urban design and Helene Swedowsky, social worker and child advocate. Mr Cannell said, “The city government is doing great injury to Yorkville and East Harlem by ruining a riverfront open space used by residents of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Mayor de Blasio leaves us no choice but to engage in civil disobedience. I remind Mr. de Blasio that The Tale of Two Cities is a novel about the persecution of innocent people.”
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