Atlantic Yards ur-opponent Daniel Goldstein got quoted in Ben Smith’s Daily News column today, but it might be the type of publicity he would rather not have. The African-Americans who support arena-and-housing complex, Smith quotes Goldstein as writing in an e-mail, were tools of “wealthy white masters.”
There has been a racial undertone throughout this debate, but this comment, we think, opens another front. Black leaders in favor of the project, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and ACORN’s Bertha Lewis, sent out a press release this afternoon calling on Goldstein’s group, Develop–Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, to apologize, and for their chief political supporter, Council Member Letitia James, to denounce the comment as well.
Smith put the quote in context on his blog.
We are waiting to hear from Goldstein. Meanwhile, the full release is after the jump.
For Immediate Release: June 5, 2006
Contact: Jonathan Rosen (646) XXX-XXXX
AFRICAN-AMERICAN ELECTED OFFICIALS AND LEADERS CALL ON ATLANTIC YARD OPPONENTS TO DENOUNCE DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY’S USE OF RACIAL LANGUAGE
Demand Develop Don’t Destroy Spokesperson to Apologize for describing African-American Supporters as Tools of “Their Wealthy White Masters”
Brooklyn — A group of African-American elected officials and community leaders who support the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn today demanded an apology from Develop Don’t Destroy, the group opposing the project, after the Daily News reported that the group’s spokesperson, Daniel Goldstein, described African-American supporters of the project as tools of “their wealthy white masters.”
The group also called on Councilmember Leticia James, who has publicly supported Develop Don’t Destroy, and who accompanied its members to a meeting with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, according to the News article, to denounce the statement and to ask other opponents to refrain from “racial” attacks.
Reverend Al Sharpton said, “I’m not sure where Mr. Goldstein is from or the environment in which he grew up, but the people of Brooklyn find this kind of mindless and racist language insulting. How dare this young man invoke the language of slavery to insult African-Americans who support a project that will provide jobs and affordable housing?”
Reverend Herbert Daughtry said, “And just when I thought that our city had overcome the kind of language and hatred that for too long could be found in some parts of our town and too many other places around the country, Mr. Goldstein has reminded me that hatred and racism are still there if you scratch a bit below the surface. Fortunately, those of us who have fought this type of bigotry for decades know how to stamp it out when it emerges. You must speak out loud and clear in order to silence the deafening sounds of racism.”
Assemblyman Roger Green said, “Mr. Goldstein has spent the last three years saying that he speaks on behalf of the people of Brooklyn. Well, the people of Brooklyn do not throw around racist insults. It’s not who we are as a people, a borough or City. He should apologize and the organization he represents should immediately denounce these statements and his actions.”
State Senator Carl Andrews said, “Mr. Goldstein has a tendency to attack personally anyone he disagrees with. But this comment goes even beyond his normal name-calling. It’s a broad racist attack against a large group of people. He should apologize immediately.
Bertha Lewis, executive director of New York ACORN, which developed the affordable and low-income housing component of the project with Forest City Ratner, said, “Sometimes one statement tells you all you need to know about a person. I cannot imagine that Mr. Goldstein has any credibility left, assuming he had any before, after saying what he said.”