BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated November 1 at 11:20 p.m .: City council candidate Allie Ryan and another woman were arrested by police at around 2 p.m. on Monday as they and a group of protesters tried to block the demolition of the East River Park tennis courts as part of the launch of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
After a brief standoff with a small group of officers, a large force of 40 policemen finally descended on the tennis courts.
“You are interfering with the planned construction authorized by the park service,” shouted an officer through an electric megaphone. “If you don’t move you will be arrested. “
As the demonstrators chanted “Save this park!” “And” The united people will never be defeated! the first-time contestant, who lives in the East Village, and another protester, Alice O’Malley, were slapped in plastic handcuffs and taken out of the park. Police said they were taken to the Seventh Ward.
“Thanks, Allie! The activists applauded, with shouts and yells.
“You should stop de Blasio!” One of them yelled at the cops.
Chris Ryan Video
A police spokesperson did not immediately have further details of the arrests and charges.
Overseeing the police response was Deputy Chief Stephen Hughes, South Manhattan Borough Patrol Commander, who was the keynote speaker at the large police-led meeting on Washington Square South last June.
Before the cops handcuff the two women, Ryan stressed why it was important for her to take precious time before campaigning on the penultimate day of the election to join the protest.
“It’s frustrating,” she said. “I run because I want to meet the people who live in this neighborhood. If our advisor had voted [against the resiliency plan] with the people, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I probably wouldn’t be a candidate today if she had sided with the community.
Even before the arrests were made, as the protesters sat together in civil disobedience, workers were already starting to cut with chainsaw the metal posts holding the chain link fences around the tennis courts, preparing the area. for the total erasure to come.
– EmilyJohnsonCatalyst (@EmilyJCatalyst) November 1, 2021
East River Park activists are putting their bodies in desperate danger in hopes of stopping the destruction of their beloved park.
On Monday morning, a day before Election Day and the first official day of “Work Operations” for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a group of park lovers, including Ryan, gathered at the park amphitheater. at the Sunrise.
They quickly converged on the tennis courts just north of the Williamsburg Bridge. It’s one of the first places in the park that Blasio’s administration has said it will dig for the multi-year $ 1.3 billion project.
At around 10:15 am, police began threatening to arrest the activists as they sat on the courts as a sign of civil disobedience holding protest signs.
At 11:30 am, the demonstrators were still on the grounds and no arrests had been made. Workers from the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Parks joined police at the scene.
Ryan, who is running for city council in the general election on Tuesday, November 2, is the candidate for the Neighborhood Party, a third line she created to run as an independent. Incumbent Carlina Rivera won the Democratic Party primary in June.
Ryan, who says she’s not hooked on party labels and primarily an environmentalist, has made saving East River Park her main campaign issue.
Rivera and the mayor de Blasio, on the other hand, are strong supporters of the so-called “raised park” plan, which would take at least five years to complete and put about half of the park out of public access at any one time. . Campaigners warn that – knowing how fast the city usually operates – the project would likely last much longer than just five years.
Council member Rivera says ESCR is essential to protect the surrounding community from another flood similar to Sandy’s.
But Ryan and the protesters say a much less extreme and destructive plan, the so-called ‘Berms Plan’ – which wouldn’t cut down the park’s nearly 1,000 mature trees – would work, and they’re upset that the city supports the current regime.
After Ryan’s arrest, activists protested at the Rivera District Office and then proceeded to the Seventh Ward on Pitt Street, where they awaited the release of Ryan and O’Malley. The two activists were released later in the evening.
Arthur Schwartz, the lawyer representing plaintiffs in a community lawsuit to block the Coastal Resilience Project, said the city was vague on the dates when demolition work would actually begin in the park. An ESCR community notice published on October 20 indicates that on November 1, “closures in the park and pedestrian detours” will begin, in preparation for demolition work. Schwartz said the city has indicated it wants to start digging the tennis courts later this month. Activists say it could be in three weeks.
But, clearly, things are moving very quickly, as evidenced by workers already chopping tennis court fences early Monday morning.