Friday Occupation Log 3-23-12

Friday’s occupation log:

After a midnight short but effective meeting, an updated flyer and press release was sent out to explain that we have taken 655 W. 125th Street away from the state. Our notice indicated we are occupying in order to focus on Cuomo’s ESDC’s theft of property. We have now taken it back and proffered it to its rightful owner. What we are doing should be an example to Columbia so they leave West Harlem alone, and stop their plan to evict more residents in 2018, and all those projected to be displaced during this whole development process.

An article in the Thursday New York Times about the building collapse included coverage of our building takeover and linked the two stories (most unfavorable publicity both ways for CU) giving additional credibility to our cause (and those demands we’ve been making for 9 years). Fox TV also covered our protest and showed footage of a CPC member addressing the crowd outside the building talking about bio-hazard labs, and anthrax consequences specifically. (yeah, Fox.) This kind of press publicity and our high profile presence in a very high visibility location seem to have Low Library sweating it a bit. (Remember that this biohazard lab’s basement construction is a very expensive gamble – is sure is taking them a long time to get 80 feet down – way behind schedule.)

Columbia is pulling out all the stops with their police dept. to derail our takeover of this building. We just got word that the cops called and that our owner will now be subject to fines if we sleep inside again. It would be the Dept of Transportation (DOT) that would issue the violations according to the cops. We have managed to have a decent relationship with the police so far but at this point things are up in the air. We will sleep outside tonight, the majority did that last night too. We will use the lobby as our living room, meeting room, music room, and hang out place. And of course we have access to the bathroom.

The busy info table and extensive flyering today were powerful results of our takeover. This location in the Triangle of Eviction (Tuck It Away, Singh’s gas station, and the site of the asbestos ridden Floridita) is the best community spot we have ever had over our long history of protesting the eviction plan. The students did a nice old fashioned spray paint on a white sheet making an “occupied” banner, and many new signs were posted up today, including a red, yellow and black lettered poster that reads: “Take Back Harlem, Occupy Columbia’s Harlem Land Grab, Fight Cuomo’s Eviction Agency ESDC.” Contributions of pictures and poetry were posted up on the Wall of Art. Writers, rappers, poets, and painters are encouraged to come out and add to the wall and play music. Lots of people came by with food and drink, even a brother from Fairway who stopped by to give us a box of cookies cause he dug what we are doing. We are getting a lot of sympathy, nice comments, and valuable information from this occupation effort. The weather looks a bit rough coming up, and we could use some dry bodies to come hang with us for a couple of hours here and there.

It was an excellent day of defending the community, including the student community.

Our group is now using the name Stop Columbia University Displacement (SCUD).

Come out and help out. (Today’s summary by Tom DeMott, member of SCUD and CPC – Coalition to Preserve Community)

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