Crown Heights

Arrest of City Council candidate at Bedford-Union Armory protest draws criticism

Jabari Brisport running against Laurie Cumbo

November 2, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Police arrest one of a number of protestors opposing the Bedford-Union Armory plan outside the City Planning Commission. Photo courtesy of Sol Freire, New York Communities for Change
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The arrest of a candidate running for City Council in Brooklyn’s District 35 (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, parts of Crown Heights) has drawn criticism from groups backing his candidacy.

Jabari Brisport, a Green Party candidate, was one of ten people arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at a protest on Thursday. He was also detained on Monday.

Brisport was among a group of dozens staging a protest at the City Planning Commission (CPC) on Monday during a vote regarding the controversial redevelopment of the Bedford-Union Armory. The protest was joined by members of New York Communities for Change and the Crown Heights Tenant Union.

Crown Heights Tenant Union founding member Joel Feingold was also arrested on Monday and again on Thursday, according to Brisport.

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Local officials and residents say the Armory proposal does not include enough affordable housing, and will speed gentrification in Crown Heights. The CPC disagreed, however, and gave the plan the go-ahead. As part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, it must now go before the City Council, where local Councilmember Laurie Cumbo holds a key vote.

Democratic Socialists of America and Our Revolution, which endorsed Brisport, said the timing of the arrest was disturbing.

“It is troubling that the NYPD have detained a City Council candidate, just days before an election. Jabari is running to give voice to the Crown Heights community, and their message has been clear: Kill the Deal,” Neal Meyer, a member of NYC-DSA’s Steering Committee, said in a statement. “Today we learned how far the de Blasio administration will go to ignore them.”

Brisport running against Cumbo

In May, incumbent Cumbo and other city officials came out against the Armory proposal. Cumbo has been castigated by her opponents however, for not opposing the project sooner than she did. Brisport and another candidate, Democrat Ede Fox, have promised to make the Bedford-Union Armory into a land trust if elected. Green Party candidate Scott Hutchins has also come out against the Armory proposal.

Councilmember Cumbo said at a press conference in May, “Since the very beginning our message has been clear: We will not allow public land to be used for the purpose of luxury condominiums.”

On Thursday, Cumbo — who is on maternity leave — commented through her spokesperson that her position on the Armory has not changed.

“She has voiced her opposition to the current proposal and her intention to vote no,” the spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The proposal, supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, includes market-rate and affordable apartments, luxury condos, a recreational facility with a swimming pool and basketball courts, and office and retail space.

It was previously rejected by Community Board 9, and rejected as it currently stands by Borough President Eric Adams. Adams requested a number of changes, including eliminating the luxury condos and increasing the amount of permanently affordable housing at the lowest and highest ends. He also recommended expanding the number of family-sized housing units in the development.


Updated on Friday to report that Brisport and Feingold were both arrested again on Thursday, along with eight other protesters.

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