Campaigners block FDR Drive next to East River Park – The Village Sun


BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Sing “Save East River Park!” Climate change activists blocked traffic on FDR Drive for about an hour Monday around noon.

The activists were not with East River Park ACTION or 1,000 Trees 1,000 People but with a larger global organization, Extinction Rebellion.

Harriet Hirshorn, a videographer who had traveled to East River Park to see if work is starting on the East Side Coastal Resilency project, said two rows of protectors, about a dozen in all, were sitting on FDR’s north lane Drive just south. from the Colears Hook pedestrian bridge just south of Grand Street. They also lay on their backs on the road. The arms of the demonstrators were linked together by PVC plastic tubes.

“At first we thought it was us,” Hirshorn told Village Sun.

(Courtesy of ERPA)
(Courtesy of ERPA)

Extinction Rebellion is holding a week of protests in the city ahead of the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which begins October 31.

According to Hirshorn, members of Extinction Rebellion who blocked the highway were not doing so to protest the city’s controversial plan to bury the entire 60-acre park in order to rebuild it 8 to 10 feet higher. . Instead, they were there to protest carbon emissions and global warming in general.

“It wasn’t about the park,” she says. “It was basically a part of Extinction Rebellion, the idea that we are killing the planet.” Not a Tree More “is one of their standard chants that they do in many languages ​​around the world.

“But I told them about East River Park and they started chanting, ‘Save East River Park! »», She declared.

(Courtesy of ERPA)
(Courtesy of ERPA)

She said, however, that the group leader was in fact aware of the East River Park problem.

Eventually, the police sent in reinforcements and started using a circular saw to cut the demonstrators’ arms off the PVC tubes.

“They terrified a woman,” Hirshorn noted. “She was afraid they would cut her arm.”

She said the cops had towels on hand, in case they cut the protesters, and asked for more water to be poured where the saw cut.

Police said 13 people had been arrested and charges were pending.

The park activist said Extinction Rebellion’s action was “fanastic … incredibly well organized.” Seeing the group blocking traffic on the FDR was encouraging, she said.

“We always knew we were natural allies,” she said of ERPA and Extinction Rebellion, “but this morning was the first time that it looked like a reality.”

To get its message across, the global group is engaging in “bold actions”, such as blocking roads and bridges.

“Thanks to Extinction Rebellion’s non-violent civil disobedience, people like you are disrupting business as usual to demand deep decarbonization,” the group’s mission statement reads in part. “Every person who protests increases our chances of creating a better future. Bold actions like occupying roads, blocking bridges and creatively disrupting the work of the banks that finance the climate crisis can grab government and media attention and change the conversation in ways that conventional resistance does. did not.

(Courtesy of ERPA)

Howard Brandstein, the director of the Sixth Street Community Center, among others, has pointed out the irony that FDR Drive itself is part of the cause of climate change – the very problem that is being used as a justification for destroying East River Park in order to to increase its height. Activists support the bridge over the highway as part of the park’s resilience project.

Hirshhorn was in the park on Monday filming the former site of a successful community composting site that has been closed for the impending resilience project.

“I wanted to document in detail that the compost yard was gone,” she said. ” He was 22 years old. This is one of the ways in which the community can respond to climate change.

Monday was slated for the first day the contractors would begin operations on the park elevation project. The old composting yard is expected to become a temporary passive lawn to use while other areas of the park are cordoned off for multi-year work.

In addition, on November 1, fences are expected to be put up around most of the park’s tennis courts – a few will be left open – and bathrooms.

Additionally, next month, the mixed-use bike path that runs along the eastern edge of the park is expected to be closed – and will remain so until 2026, when all work in the park is expected to be completed.

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