Hundreds of people, including public officials, community leaders, Brooklynites and New Jersey Nets mascot Sly Fox, descended on the Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza Thursday afternoon in support of the Atlantic Yards project. But the rally’s headlining act, Al Sharpton, was a no-show.
Amidst a sea of green shirts that read “Brooklyn” in a Dodger-esque typeface on the front, local leaders chanted phrases like “people united will never be defeated.” The $4 billion, 22-acre project has faced significant political opposition and financial roadblocks.
Still, people crowded onto the Plaza on an overcast afternoon to celebrate Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn has always been in the shadow of … the freakazoids in Manhattan – they have their tofu watercress parties,” remarked Guardian Angels founder and Brooklyn native Curtis Sliwa. “All the money goes to Manhattan; all the improvements go to Manhattan. For the first time you’ll be able to look across the Brooklyn Bridge and say, truly, the pride of New York City is in downtown Brooklyn.
State Assemblyman Karim Camara represented Mr. Sharpton, who was “stuck in Detroit." He said Mr. Sharpton asked him to relay a message: He is 100 percent behind the Atlantic Yards project.
Mr. Sharpton made a splash in November of 2005 when he criticized Fernando Ferrer, a candidate for mayor at the time, for opposing Atlantic Yards. It was later found that Forest City Ratner, the developer for the project, had donated thousands of dollars to Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network, though he denied that the money had anything to do with his endorsement of the development.
Atlantic Yards will center around the Barclays Center, a sports and entertainment arena for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. Interestingly, a new set of mock-ups for the project has the Center forgoing the usual Trinitron big screen in favor of what appears to be gigantic holograms.