The Coalition to Save Harlem is planning on Saturday to create a human chain stretching the entire length of 125th Street to protest the city’s plan to rezone the neighborhood’s main commercial corridor.
Dubbed “Hands Across Harlem," the demonstration is one of dozens of local protests aimed at halting the rezoning proposal that was approved by the City Planning Commission in March before it comes up for a City Council vote this month.
If passed, the rezoning would accommodate denser development along 125th Street, and according to the Coalition “lead to irrevocable displacement of local businesses and residents” in a neighborhood where the median income is $25,000.
“The people of Harlem are being evicted from the neighborhood they have made internationally famous, only to be replaced by a plan that rewards the wealthy real estate industry with the development of high-rise luxury condominiums, completely defacing the unique character of this historic community,” said a release issued by the Coalition today.
One of the events’ organizers, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, said the zonign proposal under review does not address Harlem residents’ concerns, and deals with the issue of affordable housing “only as an afterthought.”
The plan has certainly had its fair share of opposition, but will they really be able to rally enough people to create a human chain river-to-river across 125th? Ms. Rhodes-Pitts said they are expecting a good turnout, but admitted it will be a “challenge to show our unity as a community.”
Meanwhile, over the weekend, an East Harlem tenants group that battles abusive landlords, the Movement for Justice in El Bario, protested the neighborhood’s gentrification on the steps of City Hall, Metro New York reported.
At the rally, El Bario claimed that since the London-based investment bank the Dawnay, Day Group bought 47 rent-stabilized buildings in Harlem last year, conditions for residents have deteriorated.
The group is planning to take their fight against Harlem’s gentrification global in the next few months with a series of trips to England, Spain, France and Scotland.