Pols Stand With "Tent City Ten"
July 24th, 2009
The event came just 14 hours after 10 housing activists were released from Harlem’s 28th Police Precinct after being arrested for occupying a vacant lot for over 6 hours yesterday. (To read more about that action, see “Homeless Advocates Arrested.”)
Officials and candidates on hand were Councilmember Melissa Mark Viverito, who represents Council District 8 and is seeking re-election; Norman Siegel, the long-time civil rights attorney and current candidate for public advocate; and the Rev. Billy Talen, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate.
If there was a theme for the press conference, it was “take back the land” and “power to the people” — lines that almost every speaker closed with.
“It’s actions such as these that really push us, and push the envelope, and push us as legislators to revisit those policies and ensure that they’re more just and more fair,” Mark Viverito said. When asked if she was going to pressure the City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn on this issue, she said, “We have a different position in the City Council than the mayor does in regards to how homeless families and individuals should be treated. We’ve had many public hearings on that, and there has to be a willingness, unfortunately, from the mayor, in order to change those policies.”
Talen continued on his campaign theme of emphasizing neighborhoods.
“I feel that Picture the Homeless is demonstrating a dramatic kind-of model response, a citizen’s response, that American activists who just want to be good citizens are going to use as inspiration,” Talen said, dressed in his characteristic preacher suit.
Siegel noted that the homeless are disproportionately people of color and invoked the names of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer and Andrew Young as he praised the virtues of civil disobedience. He vowed to continue to raise the issues of homelessness and affordable housing in his campaign for public advocate.
“We need to take that issue on, and I will continue to raise the issues, especially the racial overtones, because I am convinced that we up here aren’t dealing with race in the way it has to be done,” he said.By Alex Kane on July 24, 2009, 5:12 pm
In category: Civil Rights, Gotham City, Housing | 7 Comments »