Occupy, community groups protest at Barclays Center the night before Jay-Z’s opening concert

September 28, 2012 By Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Protesting the unfulfilled jobs and housing promises made by developer Forest City Ratner when seeking approval for Atlantic Yards, the development that includes Barclays Center arena, guitar-playing members of Occupy Wall Street’s (OWS) “Guitarmy” marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to the arena late Thursday, planning to occupy the center overnight.

Another coalition of local community groups called Atlantic Yards Crime Scene also planned civic action, including a candlelight vigil at Barclays Thursday night.

Rapper and Nets basketball team minority owner Jay-Z is set to present the first performance to be held in the arena Friday night. According to OWS, the group would be holding a “teach-in for Jay Z and his fans” from 4 – 6 p.m.

Jay-Z has little sympathy for Occupy Wall Street. In a widely-quoted New York Times article he said, “I don’t know what the fight is about.”

OWS calls Jay-Z a “1% apologist,” and planned to use his own song lyrics about social justice to protest the lack of social justice at the development site. “Two weeks ago Jay-Z said he didn’t know what Occupy Wall Street is all about,” said Brooklyn resident Yoni Miller, 18. “He’s the epitome of what’s wrong with consumerist culture. He went from rags to riches, but he’s perpetuating the haves versus the have-nots. He’s not a role model for anyone in particular.”

The Atlantic Yards project was approved and received public subsidies with the understanding that it would provide 10,000 jobs and 2,250 units of affordable housing. Roughly 2,000 jobs have been announced, but the majority are part-time, low-paying service positions.  

While affordable housing plans have stalled, Mr. Ratner has announced he plans to build a 34-story prefabricated tower, cutting material and labor costs.

According to a statement put out by Atlantic Yards Crime Scene, “Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are sticking up for their developer friends, not for families who still can’t find real affordable housing and living wage jobs.”

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