Volume 16, Number 12 | Aug. 26 - Sept. 1, 2003


The Penny Post

Bloomberg should meet about Park Row

To the Editor:
Re “ ‘Occupation’ near Park Row must end, judge rules” (news article, Aug. 5 –11, 2003):

For twenty-three months, since the attacks of 9/11, the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding police headquarters have lived under a “reign of anti-terror” at the hands of Police Commissioner Kelly and his security and counter-terrorism departments. “Security” has been the mighty shield used to deflect all arguments for a more rational response to the attacks of 9/11. During the negotiations in the Park Row lawsuit, “an impediment to a rocket launcher” was even offered by a “counter terrorism expert” as a security rationale for private police vehicles parked on streets supposedly closed for security.

No resident of this country should ever be forced to live under such arbitrary military or quasi-military rule without being given a clear understanding of the reasons for the suspension of their liberties – yet this is what has been happening in Lower Manhattan for the last two years.

We have suffered loss of free access to our homes, loss of access to emergency and non-emergency services, loss of privacy, loss of safety in something as simple as crossing the street, and loss of economic opportunity. In other words, our lives, liberties, and our pursuit of happiness have been put on hold for far too long and quite possibly for the wrong reasons — to provide parking for commuters to police headquarters.

Judge Tolub’s ruling affirms that the police commissioner cannot simply take such power over people’s lives for such an extended period of time. The city needs to follow up on the judge’s ruling by providing for a fair environmental assessment, which should certainly lead to a full environmental impact statement which again needs to be fair. Too much is at stake for Chinatown, Lower Manhattan, and for the city in general for it to be otherwise.

In the meantime, it would pay for Mayor Bloomberg to come down and speak with the affected residents and businesses of the area. His recent words expressing the importance of freedom of movement and right to privacy indicate that he would not put up with such conditions if his own way of life or those of his loved ones were affected in the manner that ours have been. Perhaps his police commissioner has given him some “bad information” about the status of the people living under police headquarters’ post-9/11 martial law (a.k.a. the New York City Orange Alert status) and it is time for the mayor to hear it straight from the victims’ mouths.
Danny Chen
Danny Chen, a Chinatown resident, is one of the plaintiffs in the Park Row lawsuit against the city.


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