Dramatic Bushwick anti-gentrification message projected on Montague Street
Bright lights in Brooklyn Heights
“The Bushwick ‘Community Plan’ is a sham!” and “De Blasio, stop selling us out!” were two of the messages projected in giant white letters on the facade of TD Bank on Montague Street Monday night.
The illuminated slogans were meant to be seen by staffers at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), with offices across the street from TD Bank on the seventh floor of the Montague-Court Building.
“How do you spell racist? DCP!” chanted Ariella (she did not provide her last name), a spokeswoman for G-REBLS, .
G-REBLS and Mi Casa No Es Su Casa, two activist groups from Bushwick, are “fighting for our neighborhood,” Ariella told the Brooklyn Eagle. The groups feel a planned rezoning of the neighborhood threatens longtime residents.
“The Department of City Planning is right here, and so we’re here to send a message: ‘Bushwick is not for sale,’” Ariella said. “Don’t come to our hood. We didn’t want you; we didn’t ask for you.”
She added, “The Community Board  started this whole study, and we are here as a community to say, ‘CB4, show DCP the door. We don’t want you here.’”
As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to rezone 15 rapidly growing neighborhoods, the Bushwick Community Plan is meant to give neighborhood stakeholders input into planning where development and infrastructure improvements should happen while preserving low-income housing and neighborhood character.
But G-REBLS and Mi Casa No Es Su Casa say the plan doesn’t go far enough to protect existing tenants, many of whom are people of color.
Bushwick rents increased almost twice as fast (60 percent) as the borough as a whole (38 percent) from 2000 to 2016, according to DCP. More than half of Bushwick households have a hard time making rent, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Half of these households spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.
The Bushwick Community Plan grew out of a community planning process spearheaded in 2014 by Brooklyn Community Board 4 jointly with Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal.
The lighting expertise for the projections was provided by The Illuminator, an art-activist collective that has staged hundreds of projections in public spaces.
“Our work calls attention to the many urgent crises that confront us, in support of the ongoing struggle for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world,” the group says on its website, theilluminator.org.
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