RACISM, SUPERSTORM SANDY & DISASTER CAPITALISM
From: Marjorie Stamberg <email@example.com>
Sent: Thu, Nov 1, 2012
Red Hook faces racist Katrina-like treatment
been to housing projects in New Orleans, post-Katrina, where
authorities were trying to force residents out by cutting off essential
services, what's happening in Red Hook, post Sandy, has an eerie
Beyond the DOE's nasty harassment, making teachers
"prove" and "appeal" why they can't get to school in the middle of a
catastrophe where the trains aren't running into the most-affected
areas, Brooklyn is sealed off, people are trapped in their flooded homes
in Jersey, Long Island is still without power, NYU Hospital and now
Bellevue are evacuated because of failing back-up power, and we in lower
Manhattan are still living in the Nether World of Darkness, the New
Yorkers who are suffering most terribly right now are in Red Hook.
get the people in the Red Hook NYCHA projects to leave, the city
gratuitously turned off their electricity, water and gas before the
storm -- this was not a result of Sandy but a deliberate attempt to
force them out. Many decided to stay anyway as they needed to project
their property and did not have family or friends in other places.
four days later Red Hook project residents still have no heat, no gas,
no electric. Many cannot shop in the small bodegas that are open in the
area, because these stores require cash only, and many folks do not
have cash, but food stamps. According to NPR, food stamps are not
being accepted because the system is down.
The city did truck in
Meals-Ready-to-Eat tonight, after they practically starved everybody
out. With all the mutual praise and back-slapping over this city's
response to this catastrophe (which engineers have warned of for years),
the nightmare in Red Hook, a deliberate man-made disaster, is being
virtually ignored. As one gentleman said on the radio today, there's
racism, and then there's Hurricane Racism.
And let's not forget
that this is the same area where the DOE, Bloomberg and
mega-billionaire hedge-fund operators have been trying to destroy
community schools like PS15 with their charter school co-locations.
It's all about class and race.
P.S. Although many people have
been incredibly accommodating in these trying times, yesterday I ran
down to the World Financial Center because I heard they had power. They
did. I plugged in my phone until the security guard came by and
stopped me. "Oh, you own the electricity here?" I said. "This is a
emergency situation and you won't let New Yorkers use your outlets?"
The answer reinforced by a burly supervisor was "No." The WFC is
managed, he told me, by Brookfield Properties. This is the same outfit
that got Bloomberg to get the cops to run Occupy Wall Street out of
Zuccotti Park so that it would be "accessible" to the "public" and then
surrounded it with double and triple barricades to keep everyone out.
Evangean Pugh, far right, talks on a phone as she waits in line to apply
for recovery assistance at a FEMA processing center in Coney Island,
in the Brooklyn borough of New York
do not forget NYCHA on Coney Island! There was little or no reporting
regarding that area in the news media.The electricity, hot water and
elevators were deliberately turned off on Monday; after the mayor
ordered mandatory evacuation. This area is inhabited mainly by
disenfranchised people of color! Talk of blatant racism by Bloomberg and
An NYC Activist-Teacher's Update on the Impact of SuperStorm Sandy
Dear Substance News (www.Substance.net) Comrades,
family and I are doing fine. We live on the lower east side in
Manhattan, below 34th st where power, out since Monday evening, started
to come back on Friday around 5PM. Power outages remain in some lower
Manhattan areas particularly large buildings where the basements
flooded. In the other boros and towns in NJ, Westchester, Rockland,
Nassau and Suffolk counties some folks will remain without power until
trees are removed and power lines can be repaired. The 8 foot tidal
surge wiped out some sea level communities. Subways are still not
running in lower Manhattan as of last night. I am just catching up with
email. Julie Cavanagh, MORE's candidate in the upcoming UFT elections
emailed reports on the Red Hook projects in a low lying Brooklyn area by
the harbor where her school PS 15 is located.
The area was
badly flooded and residents were still without power and water as of
last night. Another teacher, Marjorie Stamberg wrote that the city was
saying that power at the Red Hook projects may remain out until 11/11
and she warned that folks should be on the look out for efforts by the
city housing authority to use this disaster to push out public housing
residents as was done in New Orleans. I read similar reports from the
projects in Coney Island.
The scenes from the gated community,
Breezy Point, which lies at the tip of the Rockaway peninsula have been
widely publicized by the media. NYC Teachers were instructed to return
to work on Friday even while the subway service was only partially
restored and buses were jammed. It took me three hours to get to work
and the same to return. For many teachers it was just impossible to get
in. It remains to be seen whether the city will require teachers to use
personal leave time if they were unable to return on Friday.
are slated to be reopened on Monday. I think it is obvious that the
feds responded better in NYC than they did in New Orleans. This is
partially due to the difference between the administrations but also due
to the housing pattern in NYC where for example you can find a million
dollar condo located across the street from a public housing project.
This grates on the real estate interests to no end and they will be
looking to revamp infrastructure while at the same time speed up efforts
to turn Manhattan into the ultimate gentrified gated community for the
wealthy surrounded as it is by water.
A young woman helps bag Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs) for distribution to the
residents of the Lower East Side who remain without power due to Superstorm
Sandy, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in New York. In Manhattan, where 226,000 buildings,
homes and business remain without power, Consolidated Edison says they should
have service restored by Saturday.
heroes of this disaster are the working class people who supported each
other and worked tirelessly to restore essential services. Thank the
working class for the public sector. No private charters or privatized
transportation companies would respond to human need as a fully funded
public sector can. There were very few reports of looting or violence
even though people were without food and water and had no access to cash
machines or open supermarkets.
The Daily News today carried a
report of 11 arrests outside a Coney Island supermarket across from a
housing project. One of the men arrested holding toilet paper, water
and candy pleaded with officers saying 'I'm no criminal, what am I
supposed to do let my grandmother go hungry.'
Katrina, if you are white you are "foraging" for essential supplies, if
you are a Black or Latino you are "looting." Bail was set for $20,000
and the Brooklyn DA says that they will be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law.
The climate change disasters have opened up
new arenas of class warfare as the rich seek to guard their wealth and
power even as the ship is sinking. It seems clear to me that public
sector workers and our unions will increasingly emerge as the true
leaders of society to the extent that we identify our working conditions
with the living and working conditions of the working class and
society as a whole. We in NYC enter into another season of struggle
against school closings and privatization with this heightened
awareness. Thanks again to the CTU which has pointed the way.
A queue of people forms behind a fence as they wait for distribution of food, water, and other
supplies intended for residents of the Lower East Side who remain without power due to Superstorm
Sandy, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in New York. In Manhattan, where 226,000 buildings, homes and
business remain without power, Consolidated Edison says they should have service restored
final observation, Richard Grasso, former head of the stock exchange
was on Bloomberg radio all day Thursday patting himself on the back for
waiting to reopen Wall Street out of consideration for the people
operating the exchange. 'Sure we can trade electronically but what
about the people', he repeated. The financial sector doesn't need the
real estate, but the NYC real estate industry does and I think the
latter group in particular has the jitters about climate change.
and his financial sector clowns can dismiss climate change but it will
prove to be a political dead end. This is an interesting and
potentially significant fissure in the ruling elite that may pressure
the so called "radical" and liberal think tanks and non profits to
reassess their slavish non political subservience to their funding
sources. A historic opportunity presents itself. If the "white" led
unions, affordable housing groups, and parent groups can break through
their historic indifference to racial equality and demand justice for
all and not just the so called "middle class" (which I think is often
used as a code word for all those "white" Reagan democrat males now
wondering what went wrong), a real mass based alternative to the
oligarchy will continue to grow.
NYC teacher, parent and CPE Member