Eminent Domain Site OccupiedPosted: March 23, 2012
On March 22, 2012, members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, St. Mary’s Congregations for Justice and Peace, Harlem community members, and students of Columbia University, joined forces to march against Columbia University’s expansion plans and project of displacement. This march culminated in an occupation and opening up of the Tuck-it-Away storage building lobby, 655 West 125th St, as a center for mobilizing, organizing, and channeling resistance to Columbia’s racist, untransparent, and exploitative plans and actions. This building is symbolic because it was condemned to be destroyed through the use of eminent domain; a fate that has and will befall other buildings, businesses, and residents in communities under the threat of institutionally-driven displacement. This action is an effort to retake the property from the clutches of the Empire State Development Corporation, to give it back to its rightful owner, and, in turn, to suggest an alternative model for how Columbia should share with the community, not displace it.
Concerns and grievances that have been expressed so far by members of the community include, but are not limited to issues such as:
- The 7,000 jobs and job training promised to community members by Columbia in order to obtain approval for the expansion plans, which have not yet materialized.
- The plans to build a level 3 biohazard laboratory which will include a 7-story-deep basement in an area subject to hurricane flooding and storm surges and over an active fault line.
- The threat of forced displacement at the hands of the university suffered by residents of the Harlem community.
- The threat of removal from the expansion area faced by businesses and commercial tenants through the use of eminent domain.
- The relocation of Floridita Restaurant by the university to premises contaminated with asbestos and its refusal to deal with this contamination so that the restaurant can reopen.
- The failure to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in and implicated by the demolition and construction.
Community concerns and grievances have not yet been heard and adequately considered by the University administration. Manipulation of formal procedures and protocols has closed the conversation, cut off community voices, and framed the expansion as an inevitability. In order to reopen the conversation, and with the intention of challenging the finality of all aspects of the proposed expansion, we invite you to join us as we fight to Stop Columbia University Displacement.
SCUD (Stop Columbia University Displacement)
Video of the march: