Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side hold MLK day rally

Protesters against the Two Bridges Luxury Towers compared Mayor Bill de Blasio to President Donald Trump at a rally on Jan. 18th.
Photo by Dean Moses

Members of the Lower Manhattan community held a rally to announce their day in court to continue the fight against the construction of the Two Bridges Luxury Towers Monday afternoon.

Jan. 18 marked the third annual demonstration the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side has gathered on Martin Luther King Day to protest the Luxury development from being erected in their neighborhood. This coalition has been at war with what they call “Racist rezoning” for years now, and by the large gathering on 275 Cherry Street at 12 p.m. on Monday they are not willing to back down anytime soon.

The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side are calling the construction of the Two Bridges Luxury Towers “racist rezoning.” Photo by Dean Moses

The group brandished signs taking Mayor Bill de Blasio to task for backing affluent high-rise projects in low-income neighborhoods, even going so far as to compare him to President Donald Trump for pandering to wealthy constituents. Many at the protest say the Mayor is “Shameful” for approving such an extravagant project while they are suffering amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This prompted chants of “No towers, no compromise” to echo throughout the streets.

“We know that de Blasio is not on our side so we have to force him to make the just decision. We can and we will, we have the community on our side, we are the community! We are students, workers, small business owners, and New Yorkers—each and every one of us are the lifeblood of this city, not these empty, vampiric luxury developments,” said Jihye Song.       

Council Member Ben Kallos joined the rally. Photo by Dean Moses

Supported by Council Member Ben Kallos, speakers spoke of their long struggle combating the development and the many rallies and legal battles they have undergone in an attempt to prevent the construction from getting underway. The organization also called upon Council Speaker Corey Johnson to stand by a 10-year plan he released that criticizes zoning actions. 

In a letter to Johnson, the group states: “Our working class community of color has fought tirelessly from mass displacement, air pollution, pervasive loss of sunlight and the destruction of neighborhood character that these towers would cause.” The letter goes on to say: “We urge you to follow through on your words and stand up to Mayor de Blasio’s displacement agenda.”

After contacting Johnson for his response, his office told amNewYork Metro that “The Council has moved to appeal to the court of appeals and we are awaiting their decision.”

Vanessa Thill moderated the rally so that speakers can express why they were against the building of the Two Bridges Luxury Towers. Photo by Dean Moses

In March 2019 the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON) sued to reverse the city’s approval to build the towers, which they won about a year later. However, the case was appealed and the case is set to be heard on to Jan. 27th in the Appellate Court. 

Demonstrators are angry with the Mayor’s support of the Two Bridges Luxury Towers. Photo by Dean Moses
Attendees advocated for residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, who face displacement with the onslaught of luxury rentals. Photo by Dean Moses

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