From the Riis and Campos Housing Projects, Lower East Side

November 2, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


Today a group of half a dozen revolutionaries went out to Jacob Riis housing projects in the Lower East Side, aiming to organize the people of this neighborhood to begin the process of coming together and doing the immediate things that need to be done for the health and safety of the people, and also to begin the process of joining the movement for revolution. As we arrived, there was a church group bringing in bags of food for a line of people about 50 deep. When we asked the people what they were waiting for exactly, they explained how these people had been there before distributing things like toothbrushes and some food as well. They did not know what exactly they would get or if they would even get anything at all, but there they stood, desperately awaiting some kind of help, as they clearly were not getting any from the city or the state.

We approached a young girl who was toward the front of the line with her family. This young woman happened to be a part of the September 13 action to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk. She knew of many of the pressing issues that concerned her generation. She explained them very clearly, and understood them deeply from first-hand experience. She explained how she knew a young girl who had been gang raped. She said that without power, they were in complete darkness when entering the halls and staircases, a completely helpless situation for anyone, but especially for women. I asked how they were doing with food and water, and she said there was no running water; that they used buckets to fill water from the hydrants, and then had to carry them up many flights of stairs, to use for drinking, bathing, and flushing the toilet. The food would go bad soon with no refrigeration. The only utility left in the entire complex was the gas burner.

We continued to go further into the projects and talk to more people, trying to figure out what everyone's basic needs were, and to also try to figure out if there was any way to go inside the buildings and talk to the residents still there. We came across a large group of youth who seemed to know lots of people, and were attempting to organize different ways of getting food and water to the elderly who were trapped in their high-level apartments. One young man in particular was very interested in our cause. He spoke bitterness of the unjust policy of stop-and-frisk and other abuses that go on on a regular basis in his life and the lives of his friends and family. We explained to him that there were other ways of going at these issues, and that he had to start challenging these things with other members of his community, and with us. We quickly realized this young man was a very influential voice in his community, especially among the youth, and that he could be a key player in organizing more people to come together acquire the necessities for the community members as well as for this movement for revolution. He was extremely enthusiastic and optimistic that he could take on this task; and we were thrilled to meet him.

After this, we continued on to the Campos projects on Avenue C, a block away from the Riis projects. This complex was completely dead. The only people we saw walking through were police officers, and housing authority (NYCHA). The playground in the complex was destroyed due to a fallen tree and there was police caution tape everywhere. Cars were completely wrecked, facing all sorts of directions and obviously ruined from water damage. ConEd was across the street at the power plant, pumping water from the sewers, and a flooded garage. We decided to sit for a moment in the Campos projects and see if any residents would come around that we could speak to; instead a few housing authority workers walked by, and with terrible attitudes, explained that people had been warned to evacuate, and for those who did not, oh well, their problem. We explained to them, No not oh well, what about the elderly who had no way of getting out of their homes without the elevators working, the families who had nowhere to stay, and the lack of transportation to the nearest shelter, which was about 70 blocks away. The situation was not just simple as, evacuate, and everything will be fine. NO. It wasn't that simple, and these men were not any sort of elitist people who should think of others in such a way. But this is the general attitude of the housing authority. It went along with another story we had heard from a resident of the Riis projects who explained that she, being 8 months pregnant, had to carry a disabled person down the stairs, to get out of her apartment, and when they came across housing authority personnel and asked for help, they told the pregnant woman that it was her problem, not theirs. This is disgusting. Even those in the position to be "helping" others, they are refusing to do what actually needs to be done to help their fellow man. They have no compassion. I am generalizing of course, but still, the evidence speaks for itself.

This is such a desperate situation for the people, and even now with their voices being slightly heard on the news, they are still hardly getting the help and/or support they need. This is just another reason why we need a revolution, because especially in a catastrophe like this, we can blatantly see who really matters under this system. The true character of the people can and will shine through all this terrible darkness.


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