March 21, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan
A local activist group is planning a protest against gentrification in Queens, specifically targeting three major proposals in Sunnyside and Long Island City.
The Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, an activist group working against gentrification primarily in Sunnyside, Woodside and Jackson Heights, plans to rally at 6 p.m. on April 20 at Bliss Plaza (below the 46th Street station) to show that “Queens is not for sale,” according to organizer Michael Forest.
“We were talking about gentrification in the area and we realized that there were three huge developments all in the works simultaneously in Councilman [Jimmy] Van Bramer’s district,” Forest said. The specific proposals the group is protesting include the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar that would run through Astoria and Long Island City, the development of Sunnyside Yards, and the upzoning of the Court Square /Queens Plaza district.
The group has also started a petition against the three proposed developments in the area, and plans to deliver it to Van Bramer’s office as part of the protest.
“Any of these proposals alone would result in massive displacement and gentrification in Queens. Together, they represent nothing less than an all-out assault on our neighborhoods,” the petition reads.
The rally is partly targeted at Van Bramer, Forest said, asking that he oppose the three proposed projects, which are all in his district. Forest is also calling on Van Bramer to support a rent freeze to help combat skyrocketing prices in the area.
“Councilmembers have a lot of power and he has a big say in it, so we’re basically asking him not to give the green light to these projects and to voice public opposition,” Forest said.
Though the exact plans for the rally have not yet been finalized, Forest said that various community leaders would likely speak about the negative effects of gentrification in Queens.
Van Bramer responded by explaining that he has long supported a rent freeze and opposed any privatization of New York City Housing Authority campuses.
“The BQX, development of Sunnyside Yards and the proposed rezoning of Long Island City are all ideas being pushed by Mayor de Blasio and his administration. I have publicly expressed great concern and skepticism about all of the Mayor’s proposals. And I have publicly opposed previous plans of the Mayor when it was wrong for our neighborhood,” Van Bramer said in an email to the Queens Post.
“I fight every day for the people I represent, and I’ll never support anything that hurts our community. My neighbors and constituents know that,” he added.
For more information on the march, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/236177976845884/.