Inwood rezoning protest at Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez’s office leads to 1 arrest

A woman was taken into police custody Friday afternoon during an activist occupation of City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez’s Manhattan office that began the night before.

Several protesters showed up at Rodriguez’s office at 618 W. 177th St. Thursday night to protest the City Council Land Use Committee’s approval of a rezoning proposal in Inwood, which is part of the councilman’s district.

Inwood residents who are opposed to the proposal have expressed concerns that the increased development will lead to rampant tenant harassment and displacement.

“In its current form, the rezoning will lead to widespread displacement by increasing pressure on already vulnerable tenants and women- and minority-owned small businesses,” the Met Council on Housing said in an emailed statement. 

The activists were allowed to stay overnight, but were removed from the building Friday afternoon, according to the Met Council, which organized the protest.

Video recorded outside of Rodriguez’s office and posted to Facebook around 3 p.m. showed a woman arguing with several officers as they began to arrest her. A crowd of people could be heard chanting “let her go” as police placed the woman in handcuffs and took her away.

The Met Council later said the protester had been released, but it was unclear if she was charged with a crime.

Two people, including Met Council executive director Ava Farkas, remained inside Rodriguez’s office for several hours after police arrived at the scene, protest organizers said. They ended their occupation around 5:30 p.m. but protesters continued to rally on the sidewalk.

Rodriguez, who supports the Inwood rezoning plan, said Friday morning that the activists were “free to stay as long as they want,” but the situation changed hours later.

“For safety reasons our District Office has been closed,” Rodriguez tweeted after most of the protesters had been removed from his office.

A request for further comment from the councilman was not immediately returned.

The protesters are demanding that Rodriguez vote against the rezoning proposal when it is brought before the full City Council on Wednesday, despite eleventh-hour changes made to the plan.

The original proposal, put forth by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, sought to rezone 62 blocks of Inwood – from Thayer Street to the tip of Manhattan – which would have allowed developers to construct larger residential buildings, provided that at least a quarter of their units be rented at below market rate.

As it stands now, the revamped proposal only covers a largely industrial area east of 10th Avenue and no longer includes changes along Broadway as well as Dyckman and 207th streets. 

In a Twitter thread posted on Friday, Rodriguez touted positive aspects of the proposal, including a package of city programs aimed at economic and workforce development.

With Ivan Pereira