South Bronx Unite Receives Prestigious Felix A. Fishman Award

 

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), a leading civil rights advocacy group, held its 2014 Felix A. Fishman Awards Luncheon at the House of the Association of the New York City Bar. Honored at the event were Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, which promotes the well-being of immigrant communities, and South Bronx Unite, recognized for its progressive advocacy work around social and environmental justice.

“There are organizations that are formed in strength of name only with little impact in their communities and then there are movements.  South Bronx Unite is the latter, demonstrating to our city the need for focused, intentional, relentless, persistent
and unwavering commitment toward change and a better tomorrow for the least of these.  Thank you for being who you are and doing great things for our city.”
–Pastor Que English, Bronx Christian Fellowship Church
“I applaud South Bronx Unite’s tireless advocacy for a
healthy and safe South Bronx. I look forward to continuing to partner with them in the years to come to advance more just and equitable policies and practices, including expanding Bronx residents’ access to the waterfront.”
–City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
“The protesters, meanwhile, say that they won’t stop
their fight. ‘We won’t leave till we can breathe,’ said one protester.  Even if it lands them in jail to make their
point.”
–South Bronx residents quoted on NY1
“South Bronx Unite has fought tirelessly for a better quality
of life for everyone in the Bronx. Many important achievements in our borough would not have been possible without their activism and passion.  I congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.  The Bronx is a healthier,
cleaner and stronger place thanks to their work.”
–Congressman José E. Serrano
“South Bronx Unite is a testimony to the fortitude and
resiliency of the Bronx community.  We shall not be victims of social injustice but leaders of social reconstruction.  We have the power. We are the power.”
–Karen Washington, Bronx Urban Farmer
“SBU are a truly grassroots community who have made a
collective decision to hold corporate polluters responsible for the public health and economic justice crises in the South Bronx. They are a model of lived democracy and social commitment.”
–Justin Wood, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Sun, April 19, 11am: South Bronx Environmental Justice Waterfront Bike Tour & Tree Giveaway

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 When: Sunday, April 19th | 11-1:30: Bike Tour | 1:30-3:30: Tree Giveaway
Where: Meet at Brook Park, East 141st Street and Brook Avenue
Participants of all ages visited sites along the community-designed Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan, including the proposed Lincoln Avenue waterfront park, the 132nd Street pier and the historic Port Morris gantries. Participants also learned about local organizing campaigns against subsidies to the trucking company FreshDirect as well as pollution and unjust land use from polluting fossil fuel power plants and waste transfer facilities that line the Bronx Kill waterway. Hurricane Sandy hit this flood zone during low tide, causing 4.5 foot flooding in the area, with forceful waves that ripped a pier from its concrete foundation. The tour, organized together with Times Up!, highlighted the community’s longstanding vision for the public waterfront land, who is working with the community and who is working against the community. At 1:30, we returned to Brook Park to join Friends of Brook Park, Per Scholas and New York Restoration Project in providing 100 free trees to the community as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative.

Mon, April 20: South Bronx vs FreshDirect Back in Court!

Where: Bronx Supreme Court – East 161st Street and Grand Concourse
When: Monday, April 20
RSVP
8:30 am – Fliering/press conference ( 161st St. side of building)
9:00 am – Enter court (Room 405A, Judge Mary Brigantti-Hughes)
Can public land be used by a private developer with no public benefit? South Bronx Unite packed the courtroom as New York Lawyers for the Public Interest argue (with newly discovered (aka previously withheld) information) on a motion to renew to allow standing to sue on this important issue.

Emergency Rally in Opposition to Secret “Groundbreaking” Ceremony in the Dead of Winter

South Bronx Unite Calls for Emergency Rally in Opposition to FreshDirect at Harlem River Yard on Monday, December 22, at 9:00 a.m., as Company Plans Secret “Groundbreaking” Ceremony for its Diesel Trucking Operation in the South Bronx Environmental Justice Community Where 1 in 4 Children
Has Asthma
 
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 22, FreshDirect plans to hold a secret “groundbreaking” ceremony at Harlem River Yard on St. Ann’s Avenue and East 132nd Street in the Mott Haven/Port Morris neighborhood of the South Bronx.  The move aims to pave the way for the development of a 500,000 square foot diesel trucking operation to be built on public waterfront land in a neighborhood completed blocked from its waterfront and already oversaturated with diesel exhaust and industrial facilities.  The company relied on a 21 year old environmental impact statement to assess the effect of the more than 1,000 diesel truck trips the company would make through the community every day.FreshDirect is thumbing its nose at nearly three years of community opposition to the project.  Just last month, hundreds of residents and local businesses and organizations testified in opposition to the project in the very first Bronx-based public hearing on the proposed $140 million subsidy package.  Among those who submitted testimony were Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, South Bronx Community Congress, Community Connections for Youth, South Bronx Farmers Market, The POINT Community Development Corporation, Bronx Climate Justice North, Bronx Clergy Round Table, Latino Pastoral Action Center and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, as well as others from among the more than 50 organizations that support South Bronx Unite.
Tellingly, not a single local resident testified in favor of the project. FreshDirect’s planned ceremony takes place as historic city-wide actions challenge decades of unequal public policies in communities of color.
Unprecedented acknowledgement of the racial divide in air quality is taking place across the nation right now, with The Washington Post writing that “blacks and whites actually breathe different air.”Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on promises to stop the FreshDirect deal and end the tale of two cities, has remained silent since taking office despite more than 400 phone calls and emails to his office by the community to stop the project.

It is nearly seven years to the day of when FreshDirect fired 85
immigrant workers and over a hundred fled just days before Christmas in 2007 following an immigration raid on the eve of a Teamster union vote of the employees.  The company was alleged to have tipped off immigration authorities.

While FreshDirect is courting support from Bronx representatives (and will be sponsoring the Christmas parties of several State
representatives from outside the district later in the week), City,
State and federal elected representatives from within the district
remain opposed to the project. U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano, State Senator José M. Serrano, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo have all called for a moratorium on all new development on the state-owned stretch of waterfront land, including with respect to FreshDirect, until a thorough analysis of the current uses and the disproportionate impact on the health of the community could be thoroughly studied and mitigated.

Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on promises to stop the FreshDirect deal and end the tale of two cities, has not yet affirmed this stance since taking office despite more than 400 phone calls and emails to his office by the community to stop the project.

Press Release on Empire State Development Proposed Subsidies to FreshDirect

Over 100 Residents, Clergy, Labor Leaders and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx
Relocation Would Have Devastating Environmental and Health Impacts on Local Community
More than 100 residents, clergy, labor leaders and health professionals will testify on Monday evening in opposition to a proposed $10 million subsidy package to FreshDirect from the Empire State Development Corporation.  In total, FreshDirect is
seeking over $140 million in taxpayer subsidies for a highly controversial project that would subject South Bronx residents to the pollution, noise, and traffic of over a thousand additional diesel truck trips every day. The project would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a neighborhood where
one in four children already has asthma. The State subsidies would carry no mandate to create jobs. FreshDirect has thus far avoided local living wage requirements and posted openings that pay as little as $8.00 per hour.  Monday’s hearing in the South Bronx is the
first local public hearing on the proposed subsidy package in the three years the community has been fighting against the deal, with litigation against the project ongoing.  Last December, Fresh
Direct was forced to withdraw a $3.5 million Empowerment Zone (EZ) subsidy application when it became clear that the EZ Board of Directors , under the leadership of local Congressman Jose E. Serrano, would reject it.  In 2013, Mayor de Blasio campaigned heavily against the City subsidy while running for office but has not yet taken a decisive move since entering office.
“Today, the South Bronx community is proud to stand arm-in-arm
with labor unions, faith leaders and medical professionals in opposition to the allocation of taxpayer money to subsidize FreshDirect and the 1,000 diesel trucks it would bring through our community every day.  The fact that FreshDirect and the City have
attempted to push through this proposal by relying on a 21 year old
environmental impact study is a particular slap in the face when 1 in 4 of our children has asthma.  We were particularly
disappointed to learn that a few State representatives who don’t even represent our district are advocating for this diesel project to be cited in our community.  We remain confident that this
community will prevail and that we will stop FreshDirect.” –Mychal Johnson, Co-founder, South Bronx Unite; Board of Directors, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
“More than 15 primary care physicians and nurses working and
living locally have submitted testimony against the subsidies for FreshDirect.  As a resident, physician and parent of a child with specials needs, I have seen firsthand the well-documented harms
diesel truck emissions have on vulnerable communities and individuals, such as children and the elderly.  This subsidy
package would allow FreshDirect to bring upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips through my neighborhood every day and expose us to heightened levels of pollutants linked to cognitive and mental delays in our children as well as respiratory and cardiovascular disease.”
–Dr. Melissa Barber, Resident
“The health of our children and future generation is far
more important than anything else FreshDirect can offer.  There is no trade-off.  We as faith leaders have stood, and will continue to stand together with South Bronx Unite until the powers that be fully understand what’s at stake.” –Rev. Que English, Co-founder Bronx
Clergy Roundtable
“In my tradition to be saved is to be socially responsible and
accountable for our actions. Today we stand with the South Bronx community as stewards of the earth God has given us to live in and to raise our children with. I have to denounce any action on the part of FreshDirect that will poison the only air our children have to breathe.” Minister Danny Diaz, Executive Board Member of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Justice Fellow
Latino Pastoral Action Fellow, Micah Justice Fellow New York Theological Seminary
“FreshDirect is bringing pollution and poverty to the South Bronx,
two things we have plenty of already. The company has rejected calls to pay a living wage and is not required to create a single job to get this massive subsidy. We know how to create strong industries that breed prosperity, and this isn’t it. Community members are standing up and the Teamsters are standing with them.” – Dan Kane, President, Teamsters Local 202
“FreshDirect has requested over $140 million in subsidies while
their workers, many earning just $8.25 per hour, make wages that guarantee they will either have to find additional jobs to survive or require them to get additional subsidies for housing and food.” – Lily Kesselman Dunn, Director, South Bronx Farmers Market
“The FreshDirect relocation would significantly harm the health and quality of life of Mott Haven and Port Morris residents.
It is vehemently opposed by residents and community-based organizations in these neighborhoods and is unsupported by the elected officials that represent them. For these reasons, Empire State Development should reject FreshDirect’s subsidy application.” –Gavin Kearney, Director, Environmental Justice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

“FreshDirect is bad for the South Bronx on many counts: the
environment, social justice, transportation and food sovereignty. It leaves food on the doorsteps of the privileged and nothing but noise and fumes for those who lack access to healthy food.” –Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Director, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development

Media Alert – Over 100 Community Residents, Advocates, Clergy, Labor Leaders, and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx

Over 100 Community Residents, Advocates, Clergy, Labor
Leaders, and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in
Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx
Relocation Would Have Devastating Environmental and Health Impacts on Local Community

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

What   |   Community advocates, clergy, health professionals and labor leaders will rally prior to giving testimony opposing a proposed $10 million FreshDirect subsidy package from the Empire State Development Corporation. In total, FreshDirect is seeking
over $140 million in taxpayer subsidies for a highly controversial
project that would subject South Bronx residents to the pollution,
noise, and traffic of over a thousand diesel truck trips every day. The
project would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a neighborhood where one in four children already has asthma. The State subsidies would carry no mandate to create jobs. FreshDirect has thus far avoided local living wage requirements and posted openings that pay as little as $8.00 per hour.  Monday’s hearing in the South Bronx is the first local public hearing on the proposed subsidy package and high turnout is expected.

When   |    Monday, November 17, 2014, 4:30 pm Press Conference, 5:00-9:00 pm Public Hearing

Where   |   Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10451

Who   |   Press Conference Speakers (in formation):
South Bronx Unite
Bronx Clergy Roundtable
Teamsters Local 202
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI)
Resident Doctors
Land Use Experts

Contact   |   Stephanie Ramirez, 212-784-5704 or 917-725-1468sramirez@groupgordon.com
Gigi Kwon, 212-784-5706 or 646-660-4952gkwon@groupgordon.com

…with love for our hood in truth always…