Going to the Mattresses on Atlantic Yards

After the federal court ruling, Forest City Ratner said this decision puts it a step closer to creating X number of affordable housing units in Brooklyn. How does that make you feel, the tack of saying this is essentially a way of creating affordable housing?

Well, it’s nonsense. Forest City Ratner proposed this project to make a profit. That’s what publicly traded companies do and they’re a subsidiary of a large, publicly traded company. It’s offensive because the plaintiffs on that lawsuit, and I’m one of them, brought that lawsuit because they feel that the taking of their property by the state violates the Constitution.

They didn’t bring that lawsuit to get in the way of creating so-called affordable housing or jobs—so putting aside our contention that this project is not about affordable housing and not about job creation and not about new tax revenue for the city and state—the lawsuit certainly was not an attempt to get in the way of Brooklynites getting those things if those things would actually ever occur. Because we can get all of those things without any use of eminent domain, so our lawsuit had nothing to do with getting in the way.

We would argue that Ratner is in our way, Ratner’s trying to take our homes and our business and our property. So who’s in whose way? Is it surprising that they use that decision to suggest that now they can move forward? Not at all.

How much money has Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spent on court cases?

First of all, we are constantly fund-raising.

From whom, usually?

We are fund-raising from anyone and everyone. We are fund-raising from individuals within Brooklyn and beyond. We’re holding, just this month, five major house parties …. We’ve had others. We have somewhere well over 3,200 individual donors; that’s over this three-year period. When this decision came down, we raised a substantial amount of money within a few days over this decision.

How much?

Substantial.

Six figures?

Six figures [laughing]? Not six figures.

Well, this is New York, and you said “substantial” ….

These are relatively small donations. Let’s put it this way: Thousands and thousands of dollars within a few days and some with messages. And I think the message just from the donation was “Yeah, we didn’t like this decision but keep going, keep fighting, we support what you’re doing.” We have set out to raise close to a million dollars for this year. We believe that’s what it will take to get through, and it could take more than that to get through an appeal and a trial.