Brooklyn activists have begun to organize mass demonstrations targeting housing developments that out-price community residents and displace them. On Aug. 30 protesters descended on 410 Nostrand Ave., a newly renovated condominium, to intensify the fight against “ethnic cleansing.” Spokesman Roger Wareham stated, “The nationwide forced displacement of Black people from the communities we have lived in for years, dishonestly called ‘gentrification,’ is especially blatant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Today, we, a coalition of outraged community members, led by the December 12th Movement, have gathered to state that ‘ethnic cleansing,’ the actual crime that is being committed in our community, must stop now. We demand that the owners of 410 Nostrand Ave., Gross Family Holdings, sell its eight apartments to residents of the Black community at prices truly affordable to working-class people.”
Gentrification forcibly removes the Black population through extreme price hikes in rents and mortgages, landlord abuse and harassment, and foreclosure tactics. Many people being forced out find it hard to get affordable housing and end up moving in with family or friends or to a city shelter.
“The United Nations defines ethnic cleansing as a crime against humanity,” Wareham continued, stating, “We are clear that the ethnic cleansing of Black communities is a government policy. It achieves its goals by various means — inferior schools, poor health care, police murder and harassment — in addition to granting permission for the construction of unaffordable housing.”
The Black population of Bedford-Stuyvesant has decreased from 75 percent in 2000 to barely 50 percent in 2015. At the same time the white population has grown sixfold. The transition rate has increased over the past two years. What is even more revealing is that there are no government statistics or any apparent concern about where these displaced Black residents have gone.
Wareham charged, “Ethnic cleansing is a crime which we must and will stop in our community.”