Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Protesters Successfully Shut Down Brooklyn’s Housing Courts

Tenants, organizers, and community members came together in Downtown Brooklyn on Monday, successfully halting 22 evictions.

Frankie Levine

May 4, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: Luigi Morris

In December 2020, Governor Cuomo announced an eviction moratorium until May 1, 2021. The New York State Assembly was supposed to extend the moratorium to August 31st in April so that there would be no lapse in tenant protection, but a “technical error” led to a failure to vote on the issue. The vote was scheduled for April 28th so that the moratorium would not actually run out on May 1st. A spokesperson from the state Office of Court Administration told The City that courts would essentially ignore the lapse caused by the failure to vote, “confirming that cases will be paused until the moratorium is back in place.” But we now know that that was a lie. 

As a result of these events, there were 22 eviction trials scheduled for May 3rd. These tenants almost lost the right to a roof over their heads because of a mere drafting error. We don’t know how many people would have actually been affected, as many of these tenants may have been in multi-generational family homes. At 5 p.m., six hours after the court was effectively and peacefully shut down by protestors, the legislature finally passed the bill to officially extend the eviction moratorium through August 31st. 

Photo: Luigi Morris

Not extending the moratorium in New York in time to avoid a lapse in tenant protections explicitly went against the CDC’s own moratorium, which lasts through June 30th. Furthermore, New York State has $2.4 billion in federal rent assistance provided by the federal government. Reprehensively, New York’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or “CE-RAP,” has yet to distribute any of these funds. This is completely unacceptable and immoral, and groups like the Crown Heights Tenants Union, Brooklyn Eviction Defense, Art Against Displacement, Radical People’s Assembly, and other community supporters and tenants made sure that the courts knew it by showing up in solidarity, and shutting them down. 

Protestors gathered in front of the Kings County Supreme Court at 320 Jay Street in Brooklyn, chanting and peacefully blocking multiple entrances. They moved to block the adjacent intersection, and then one lane of the Tillary street off-ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, the protesters returned to the intersection of Jay and Johnson, once again blocking all traffic going past the Supreme Court. Protestors booed and shouted “shame” as the NYPD brought paddy wagons and arrested 12 peaceful protestors shortly after 11 a.m.

Photo: Luigi Morris

These temporary freezes do not even constitute a moratorium on all evictions. As early as February, New York courts have been upping the number and variety of eviction cases on their dockets. Nakeeb Siddique, Director of Housing for the Brooklyn Neighborhood Office of the Legal Aid Society, spoke to Law360 and said, “The court is really trying to move these cases, in the sense of having something happen in them, even if there is not a possibility at the moment that the tenant is subject to eviction.” The collective message of the May 3rd action, a display of community self-defense, was a call to abolish private property. Clearly, this is the only way to end the housing crisis for good. 

Yesterday’s action was the eleventh time since the global Covid-19 shutdown of March 2020 that Brooklyn Supreme and Family Court eviction trials were halted by community members in solidarity. Because of the brave actions by these individuals yesterday, 22 eviction cases did not go to trial. As the press release for the action stated: to get to our neighbors, you have to go through us. When organized tenants come to each other’s defense, we all win, and capitalism loses.

Facebook Twitter Share

Guest Posts

“It Feels Like Everything in the Hospital Is Breaking Down”: Interview with a Medical Resident in the Bronx

A medical resident in the Bronx spoke with Left Voice about how the global pandemic exposed long-standing issues in the U.S. healthcare system, and why healthcare workers must support each other.

Left Voice

January 19, 2022
Worker holding sign that reads will strike if forced

A Tale of Two Tiers: Lessons from the Kellogg Strike

Kellogg cereal workers waged one of the most important strikes of 2021, but the union bureaucracy’s declarations of victory are misleading. Not only does the new contract fail to end the two-tier wage system, it opens the door to even greater exploitation of new hires.

Daniel Werst

January 3, 2022

All Out for Wedzin Kwa: Interview with a Leader of the Gidimt’en Checkpoint

The Wet’suwet’en-operated Gidimt’en checkpoint is at the forefront of a struggle against the Canadian Coastal GasLink pipeline. All out for Wedzin Kwa!

Left Voice

December 16, 2021
A police officer approaches police tape around a Lowe's

A Tucson Cop Murdered A Disabled Man in A Wheelchair

Richard Lee Richards, a disabled man in Tucson, Arizona was fatally shot in the back by a cop after he allegedly stole a toolbox. Yet Joe Biden still went through with plans to make the Tucson police chief his new Border Patrol director. This is further evidence that the Democratic Party wants Black Lives Matter protesters off the streets but doesn’t intend to actually stop police brutality.

Daniel Werst

December 12, 2021

MOST RECENT

One Year Later: Biden Is Still No Friend of Labor

Joe Biden claims to be one of the most pro-labor presidents to ever hold office, but while he has talked a good game, he has conspicuously failed to deliver for working people and unions. Worse, Biden’s embrace of labor was and remains a cynical, and so far highly successful, attempt to co-opt and further tie unions to the Democratic Party.

James Dennis Hoff

January 21, 2022

Capitalists Only “Trust the Science” When It Suits Their Agenda

Trusting science should not mean trusting in the benevolence of the ruling class.

Olivia Wood

January 21, 2022

CUNY Rank-and-File Activists Fight for Safe Reopening

At the City University of New York (CUNY) tens of thousands of students are petitioning for more online classes, and in-person sections are getting canceled left and right due to low enrollment, leading dozens of part-time faculty to lose their jobs. Dissatisfied with the union leadership’s response, rank-and-file union members are taking matters into their own hands.

Left Voice

January 21, 2022

The Problem of Wanting Biden to “Succeed”

While Joe Biden has dismal approval ratings, many Democrats are still wishing for him to “succeed.” But success for bourgeois capitalist politicians like Biden always comes at the expense of the working class.

Adnan Ahmed

January 20, 2022