Voices of Dissent

Along with every other blogger in the city and several thousands of bottles of Poland Spring, we went to Sunday’s “Rally Against Ratner’s Skyscraper City” at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

The speakers all talked about what a diverse group the opposition was. And so it was.

The rally started promptly at 2 p.m. with a performance by the political-art troupe Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir. Billy, a wild-eyed blond, led his red-robed vocalists in a number that proclaimed, “This town ain’t no supermall.” A “flactivist” for the group later said that Billy had brought his anti-corporate, anti-globalization message as far as Zurich.

But many of the black leaders present did not want to sing along. Councilman Charles Barron, who followed Billy onstage, told the largely white crowd, “I have to say something about your mock reverend and all that. You can play jokes, that’s fine. But don’t mess with the black church.”

Especially when two of the invited speakers are black ministers: the Rev. Dennis Dillon and the Rev. Clinton Miller.

Bob Law, a local luminary who marched with Martin Luther King Jr., was more blunt. “When you ask people to come here,” he said at the beginning of his speech, “be careful what you say.”

It must have been an uncomfortable start to the event for Develop Don’t Destroy, the rally’s sponsor, which has been struggling to prove that antipathy towards Atlantic Yards is shared by all races and classes.

Still, the rally did witness some linguistic diversity.

Mona Fafarman, a Park Slope acupuncturist, stood in the heat, shielding herself from the sun with a human-sized frozen-drink parasol.

“There’s no transparency,” she said. “A goldmine is being given away for bupkis — that’s Yiddish for nothing.”

Jonathan Liu

Voices of Dissent