New York, Homeless Activists Carry Out Triple Interruption at City Council Meeting
At the Stated meeting of the New York City Council, Picture the Homeless members and allies disrupted the meeting in three coordinated waves, resulting in the chamber being cleared and the meeting being temporarily adjourned. Council Members including Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams were seen joining in the protesters' chant of "CALENDAR INTRO 48," reflecting the need for a hearing for this popular bill.
AN EXCELLENT WRITE-UP of the event, from our dear friends at Housing Works, is here.
FIRST PHOTOS OF THE DISRUPTION are available here.
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"We didn't expect to shut them down," said PTH Housing Campaign leader Genghis Khalid Muhammad, one of the disrupters. "We expected to get their attention, but we didn't think it would bring everything to a standstill. So I guess we really did get their attention. They can no longer ignore Intro 48, and they've got to calendar it. Right now they're thinking to themselves, "these people are not going to give up! what is Picture the Homeless going to do next?" That's what we want them to be thinking. Because they only way to stop us is to calendar Intro 48, and put it to a vote, and pass the bill. If they don't want to keep on seeing us, they know what they have to do."
PTH was glad to have a bunch of its allies out there in support, chanting alongside as we were ejected:
"This is what I'm talking about," said Wanda Imasuen of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, who participated in the action. "We need to have action - real action - we can't just keep on having meetings and talking to these people and never get anywhere. These electeds aren't listening and we've got to take it to the streets. Every organization should be out here with us, in the streets."
As part of an increasingly boisterous campaign to convince the New York City Council to conduct a census of vacant buildings, leaders from the activist organization Picture the Homeless interrupted today’s otherwise mundane all-member City Council meeting.
Leaping from their seats on three separate occasions, activists urged Speaker Christine Quinn to bring the bill—called Intro 48—before the Housing Committee. “Calendar Intro 48!” they shouted, before police dragged them to the street.
The interruptions followed a protest last week , in which seven members of Picture the Homeless disrupted a council Housing and Buildings Committee hearing in an effort to drum up attention from council members.
Picture the Homeless wrote the legislation for Intro 48, which would ask the City to conduct an annual census of vacant property so the community could better identify locations for affordable housing. It was introduced in February and has languished in Housing and Buildings since.
After last week’s action, Council Members Robert Jackson and Erik Martin Dilan agreed to meet with group members. But a building security team later canceled the Dilan meeting. “We’ve reached out to him to reschedule, and we’ve gotten no response,” said the group’s lead organizer Sam Miller. The meeting with Jackson has not been set yet.
While Intro 48 has garnered support from nearly half the council, Quinn opposes it, saying it would cost “millions of dollars.” Picture the Homeless says the outlay would be more like $60,000 .
At the meeting today, Quinn responded to the outbursts with sarcasm. “Well, I think we have confirmed that we have good acoustics,” she said, as activists’ shouts rang through the hall.
“She’s [potentially] running for mayor and she’s depending on the real estate agencies to finance her campaign,” said William Burnett, housing campaign leader at Picture the Homeless. “And I don’t imagine they want transparency in their industry.”
The group, meanwhile, is gearing up for something bigger. “We don’t have the money to put in campaign coffers,” said Burnett. “So we won’t move them with our wallets, but with our direct action.”