The Face of Eminent Domain

The image problem plaguing the fight against eminent domain in this city—that it’s a NIMBYish movement run by rich white people—was not helped much by a small press conference yesterday called by City Councilmember Letitia James. She’s black, and two others who stood beside her were black, and there was one Asian person in that crowd, but amazingly the press corps attending the City Hall event was more diverse (44 percent not white) than was the crowd around James (29 percent). And usually it’s the newsrooms who are criticized for not reflecting enough diversity!

To be fair, a news conference held last week on the same issue at the same spot brought out some more black public officials, including state Senator David Paterson, and Daniel Goldstein, of Develop—Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, said that others from the “eastern end” of the footprint that Forest City Ratner wants for his sports arena and residential complex wanted to come but couldn’t make it. There’s no question many of those who will be displaced in Brooklyn and in Harlem, where Columbia University wants to expand, are black and Latino, but unless they make their voices heard, the public will never know on whose side they stand.
—Matthew Schuerman