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Community Groups Call for Mayor's Resignation Over 'Racist' Rezoning Snub

By Allegra Hobbs | October 27, 2016 3:39pm | Updated on October 29, 2016 1:14pm
 Community members pushing for the passage of an expansive rezoning plan rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday to call for de Blasio's resignation.
Community members pushing for the passage of an expansive rezoning plan rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday to call for de Blasio's resignation.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

MANHATTAN – Dozens of protesters gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday to demand Mayor de Blasio's resignation over his administration's purported failure to preserve low-income housing in the Lower East Side and Chinatown.

Members of the 52 neighborhood organizations comprising the Chinatown Working Group, which has for years been pushing a grassroots plan to rezone the Lower East Side, toted a papier mâché likeness of the mayor alongside that of Mr. Monopoly and chanted "Bill de Blasio's got to go!"

The call for the mayor's resignation is the latest demand in the coalition's ongoing pleas that the city go through the entirety of their community-developed rezoning plan, which seeks to cap building heights in the neighborhood to help thwart the influx of luxury high-rises. 

"Y'all should be mad, because everybody's being displaced around here," said Angel Pizarro of the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, part of the Chinatown Working Group. "Hide your kids, hide your children, everybody's being displaced."

The coalition has been up in arms ever since the Department of City Planning sent back the plan in March 2015, asking the group to narrow its focus, while also noting it was too focused on down-zoning and not enough on creating housing.

The group became further incensed when Community Board 3 officials announced the board would work with DCP on portions of the plan, beginning with Chinatown, NYCHA properties and areas along the East River waterfront. Members of CWG objected to the piecemeal approach to the plan, stating it should instead be assessed as a whole.

The issue became so heated, the community board called in NYPD officers to monitor a meeting following the announcement in June, in which coalition members shouted down board members, charging down the aisles to confront those they dubbed "sellouts."

Protesters repeated the group's position that the city's refusal to ram through the entire rezoning is "racist." The group has pointed to the passage of the 2008 East Village rezoning as evidence of racism, stating the East Village is wealthier and whiter than the areas the CWG rezoning plan would protect.

The city agency's approach to the rezoning plan further perpetuates divisiveness along economic and racial lines, the protesters claimed. 

"We need to fight against the mayor who is passing these racist laws that we can't even have our community protected...He's dividing us and putting us against each other," said Pizarro. 

The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.