CROWN HEIGHTS — Police removed two members of a controversial local activist group from a community board meeting Wednesday night — issuing them summonses for disorderly conduct after the latest in a long line of heated protests over land use rules in the neighborhood.
Alicia Boyd, leader of Movement to Protect the People, and another woman described as a member of MTOPP were led out of the St. Francis de Sales school on Eastern Parkway and Classon Avenue in Crown Heights shortly after they began shouting and chanting at the start of the Community Board 9 committee meeting.
“This is what they do when you participate in your government!” Boyd yelled as officers from the 71st Precinct led her out in handcuffs.
Both women were held in a police van outside the school for the duration of the meeting, issued summonses for disorderly conduct and released, police said.
MTOPP has been a consistent presence at recent CB9 meetings about possible changes to zoning rules in southern Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, protesting the board’s efforts to work with the Department of City Planning to start studying changing land use rules in the area.
After police removed the women from the meeting, allies of the group harshly criticized the board, who had requested the police take Boyd out of the room.
“You can remove any person that you wish from here. You can pick and choose who you wish to remove, but someone else is going to stand up … there are people here with no fear,” said Karen Fleming, a Lefferts Avenue resident of 50 years, during her public comments.
The meeting came a week after MTOPP's use of racially charged language on fliers and in person at a Feb. 4 committee meeting, including calling a board member "KKK" and accusing those who supported rezoning of being "Uncle Toms." That meeting culminated in a shouting match between Boyd and Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.
Cumbo wrote an open letter to the community on the rezoning issue Wednesday, calling out “a consistent small group of individuals, who ridicule, humiliate, verbally attack and interrupt anyone that attempts to speak at the meetings with racist and anti-Semitic comments.”
She added that moving forward with a study by city planning about rezoning the neighborhood “gives us the greatest understanding of what all of our options are,” emphasizing that a study by the department “is only a set of recommendations” and not legally binding.
It is unclear how the board will move forward on the issue. Previously, CB9 had scheduled last week’s and Wednesday’s meetings to hash out what to include in a letter to city planning requesting the department begin a rezoning study in the district. But with little consensus among residents, some board members expressed concern about holding a vote on the letter’s contents at the next CB9 full board meeting on Feb. 24.
“As a board member, I’m not comfortable voting on anything that’s going to come to a vote on the 24th because there still has to be community input,” said Carmen Martinez, president of the Sterling Street Block Association and a CB9 member.
The next full board meeting for CB9 will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Medgar Evers College at 1650 Bedford Ave.