Militant Journalism

NYC: Crashing faux-progressive mayor’s fundraising gala

Photo: Henry Cames

On October 29, dozens of protesters from different movements gathered at a high-end hotel in one of New York’s wealthiest areas to protest the oppressive policies of New York City’s supposedly “progressive” mayor Bill De Blasio.

Rather than kick off his re-election campaign at a neighborhood establishment in a working-class area of the city, De Blasio decided to hold a fundraiser with New York’s elite, and each ticket was rumored to cost around $5,000. In doing so he proved the protesters outside correct, further revealing himself to be a faux-progressive, yet another mayor beholden to New York’s landlords, the NYPD, the Pentagon’s “War on Terror” and the city’s big business interests.

One of the main organizers, Josmar Trujillo, pointed this out in his speech to the people and press:

“Whether it’s the addition of extra cops with taxpayer money, whether it is the privatization of NYCHA public housing land, whether it’s his real estate-friendly rezoning plans that are being opposed in community board after community board-all these things are basically reiterations of Bloomberg and Guiliani and he’s doing it under a progressive cover and we’re here to call that out.”

The protest was called by the Coalition to End Broken Windows, which includes multiple organizations, including the ANSWER Coalition, in an effort to highlight the little that De Blasio has done towards the promises which got him elected.

Instead of changing the relationship of power between oppressive police and local communities, De Blasio appointed Bill Bratton as NYPD Commissioner. Bratton was a key creator of the “Broken Window” theory of policing, which aggressively targets low-level offenses in neighborhoods where Black and Latino people live. De Blasio continues to support this approach, even though he campaigned on ending one of its key components, Stop and Frisk. Despite claims otherwise, Stop and Frisk has continued across the city under different names.

The action highlighted how De Blasio has even more aggressively harassed the homeless of NYC, increasing ticketing and arrests made on the streets and in the subway.

In regards to resolving the crisis of affordable housing, De Blasio has failed to fulfill his campaign promises. Much of the housing built has given major tax credits to private developers for mostly market-rate units built on city land. An insufficient fraction of units have been built at semi-affordable level.

The speaker from the ANSWER Coalition highlighted that the city continues to hemorrhage rent-stabilized and Mitchell-Lama units, and has neglected to reopen the Section 8 waiting list, which has been closed since 2007! The Mayor’s new plan for public housing, NYCHA Next Generation, is re-branded version of the previous mayor’s idea of selling park space and parking lots within public housing complexes to condo developers. The plan has elicited outrage from public housing tenants.

Activists from the Palestinian solidarity movement were also out in force at the protest, and called attention to De Blasio’s recent trip to Israel where he expressed unconditional support for Israel despite the colonial state’s brutal occupation policies. Several highlighted the link between people of color in New York facing police brutality at the hands of the NYPD and the military occupation of Palestine.

After picketing and drawing attention to these issues, protesters briefly stormed the hotel where De Blasio was holding the fundraiser. Some protesters were blocked by police outside, while others were inside temporarily before being ejected.

The message to the fat-cat donors and the mayor was loud and clear. The working people of this City are tired of the status quo, and will not settle for establishment politicians who use populist rhetoric during campaign season and then bend over backwards to appease the city’s true kingpins: the banks and developers. The task ahead is to build a mass movement that can take them head on.

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