The South Bronx is Going to Stand Its Ground

“Comptroller Liu claims city is
‘held hostage’ by FreshDirect deliver on tax breaks”
“John Liu blasts Bloomberg’s
support of city’s $127M FreshDirect deal”
“City panel rubber-stamps $127M in subsidies for FreshDirect move to the Bronx”
These were the headlines covering the IDA’s shameful approval this week of $87 million for FreshDirect, part of the $127 million FreshDirect is seeking to move to the South Bronx.  This deal is not over.  Prepare your testimony now for the Empire State Development Corporation hearing on the $50 million subsidy package from the State.  Use some or all of the draft testimony we have prepared covering the facts of this rotten deal.  Don’t wait because you know we don’t get notice!
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For decades our neighborhood has been used as a dumping ground for the rest of the city, creating an unseemly and unfair health burden on our residents and our children. FreshDirect’s project is not only illegal, but immoral and racist. The only reason they have pushed this project through is because the area’s residents are black and brown, including a large percentage of immigrants.  FreshDirect and the city believed the area’s residents were not going to fight back for our environmental and health rights, but we are fighting back, and we will keep fighting until we win. We have dozens of strategies planned to stop this deal; so all these administrative and nepotistic short-notice meetings will not defeat us.  FreshDirect is not going to relocate to our waterfront.

Using tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer monies to benefit a private company while our schools are closing and while our kids lack green open spaces is immoral. Using taxpayer monies to subsidize a diesel truck intensive business while our residents suffer asthma rates 8 times the national average is also unethical and immoral. Blocking our waterfront access while the rest of the city develops waterfront spaces in other boroughs is racist and classist, for it is a decision based on the income and color of the area’s residents.

This deal will negatively impact already existing and thriving business in the area. This project will bring even more trucks to streets where deadly runovers by trucks are a common occurrence. This project will bring more asthma and respiratory ailments to our streets. This project will deprive current existing businesses in the area of the opportunities and help they need to thrive by giving away their taxes to a company that has never cared about us.

FreshDirect has denounced their own employees to Homeland Security rather than have them unionize. FreshDirect has promised electric trucks to the city’s residents since 2007, but has not delivered. The land where they want to build their warehouse is a documented Native American burial ground. FreshDirect plans to build in land that got flooded during Hurricane Sandy and that will surely get flooded again during the next storm, creating unfair and preventable environmental risks for the South Bronx. FreshDirect does not pay living wages and lies about what they pay their workers. The land where they want to build is publicly-owned land. It is our land. And we are against using public land for private profit.

For all of these reasons we will stand our ground. FreshDirect, the city and complicit electeds are well-aware of the community’s overwhelming opposition to this deal. We will get louder; we will resist; we will get more creative; we will fight for our land, our waterfront and our rights, and for the rights of all of those to come.

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