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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, October 21, 2017

On Thursday, September 28, after complaining to Mayor Bill de Blasio about his plans to rezone East Harlem to allow for more high-rise residential buildings to be constructed there, over a dozen residents of the neighborhood were kicked out of the town hall meeting at Johnson Community Center. 

Throughout the evening, the mayor continually defended the plan, claiming it was an important part of his 10-year promise to create and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units. De Blasio also denied the claims that he was using the rezoning to help make developers who donated to his campaign even richer. 

Those in attendance at the meeting, however, did not believe the mayor’s claims, and rather asserted the plan was actually trying to gentrify the area. 

However, many at the town hall meeting at Johnson Community Center were not buying it, alleging the plan is really about gentrifying the neighborhood.

De Blasio was asked by one woman how he could support helping Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and at the same time support a rezoning proposal that is likely to price Puerto Ricans and other minorities out of the neighborhood. 

She said, “Affordable housing is nothing for people with low income; it’s for people with middle income. We say ‘no’ to racist rezoning. What do you have to say about that?”

De Blasio replied, “If it makes you feel good to say that and not look at the facts, God bless you!”

Another resident in attendance that didn’t like the mayor’s response called out, “Bullsh-t!”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district includes East Harlem, came to de Blasio’s defense, trying to defuse the confrontation, unfortunately her input just infuriated the crowd more. Around a dozen people shouting, “No rezoning! No rezoning! No rezoning...” were escorted out of the meeting by security guards soon after. Before this meeting, outside the community center there had been a protest as well as people distributing flyers that rejected the mayor’s rezoning plan.

By Hannah Hayes