The Coalition to Preserve Community demonstrates at the offices of Governor Paterson and the Empire State Development Corporation.
“The purpose of this was twofold: We wanted to request in a letter to Gov. Paterson to declare a statewide moratorium on eminent domain, and we also wanted to demand that the ESDC drop their appeal,” Harlem Tenants Council president Nellie Bailey said.
COALITION TO PRESERVE COMMUNITY, PO BOX 50, NYC, NY 10027
Contact: Tom DeMott: (917) 969-0669; Nellie Bailey: 646-812-5188;
Espanol: Luis Tejada (212) 234-3002
On Thursday, January 28, 2009, from 11:30 AM until 1:00PM, members of Coalition to Preserve Community (CPC) and its supporters will gather in front of the offices of Governor David Paterson and the Empire State Development Corporation at 633 3rd Ave. (between 41St. and
40th Streets) to demand that ESDC reverse its decision to appeal the historic ruling of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division against the State’s seizure of private property for Columbia University’s expansion of its 116th street campus into West Harlem.
Representatives from various neighborhoods facing development plans using eminent domain will join CPC members to call on Governor Paterson to declare a moratorium on eminent domain. Letters supporting both demands will be delivered to his and ESDC’s offices.
On December 3rd the Appellate Division by a 3-2 vote ruled “the exercise of eminent domain power by the New York State Urban Development Corporation (d/b/a ESDC) to benefit a private elite education institution is violative of the Taking Clause of the U.S
Constitution, article 1 & 7 of the New York Constitution and the first principles of the social contract.” In a scathing decision, the court detailed a riveting account of Columbia University’s collusion with the State to gain 100% of a 17-acre parcel between 125th St. and 133rd St. and 12th Ave. and Broadway for an expansion projected to cost 6 billion dollars.
Two separate lawsuits challenging the eminent domain determination were filed by property owners in the development footprint, Nick Sprayregen, Parminder Kaur, Amanjit Kaur, and P.G.
Singh. Sprayregen was represented by noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel and attorney Philip Van Buren. Protesters will offer their continued support for property owners whom Columbia is smearing as selfish hold-outs preventing progress rather than owners entitled to decide the future of their own properties. CPC will point out Columbia’s elitist agenda and its manipulation of its political and financial connections.
Siegel and Sprayregen will address the audience. Invited speakers also include State Senator Bill Perkins, who within a day of the court ruling called on Governor Paterson to order a statewide moratorium on the use of eminent domain pending legislative revision of the much-abused New York State condemnation laws. Support will be offered by and for businesses and residents in East Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn and elsewhere who are facing eminent domain abuse as part of huge gentrification developments.
Members of CPC will be picketing to support this historic victory for neighborhoods throughout New York City decimated by eminent domain abuse and to show their vital resistance to oppression by both private and government institutions. We demand NO APPEAL; NO EMINENT
DOMAIN; NO DISPLACEMENT OF RESIDENTIAL TENANTS AND WORKERS; NO BIOHAZARD LEVEL 3 LABS; FULL DISCLOSURE OF PAYMENTS BY COLUMBIA TO ESDC AND RELEASE OF FOIL DOCUMENTS ORDERED BY THE COURT.