The Corner

Wall Street’s Community Board Sides Against Its Residents

I wrote last week about how Wall Street–area residents were beginning to stir against their occupiers. Last week, over the objections of these residents, the members of Community Board 1 passed a resolution recommending that the Wall Street Occupiers be allowed to remain in Zuccotti Park indefinitely.

Here is a statement that Linda Gerstman, one of those residents, made to the Community Board:

We live in a community that was finally rebounding from September 11th.  My fellow neighbors and I chose to live here despite many inconveniences (like limited car access) due to national security.  

The protesters have driven our neighborhood into the proverbial toilet (pun intended).  Not only does the occupation impact the park and the adjacent streets – where it smells like rotting food and raw sewage – but also impacts us blocks away.  

Barricades have been erected in order to block their access to landmarks and terrorist targets.  These barricades also prohibit residents from walking freely in their own neighborhood.  

Children are frightened, the elderly are forced to walk blocks out of their way to fill a prescription, and our sidewalks are soiled because dogs don’t have access to the curbs.  

Local retailers and restaurants are reporting drops in foot traffic and sales.  Real Estate Brokers are seeing decreased activity in terms of responses to listings – which has a direct impact on our property values.  Several of my neighbors have fled the neighborhood and are selling their apartments.

Our building has been burgled three times by protesters – once to wedge all access doors open (likely for future break-ins), once to hang a protest banner from a window and once to vandalize our building in the name of “art”.  So now, not only are we significantly inconvenienced, we are now in fear of our safety and security.  

Quite frankly, we are not interested in a “good neighbor policy”. These occupiers are not our neighbors. Our neighbors don’t beat on drums while children are napping, our neighbors do not verbally attack people on their way to work, our neighbors do not break in and vandalize buildings, our neighbors do not urinate and defecate in the street. The occupiers need to vacate our neighborhood.

This is our home. We are not the enemy. Many of the protesters go home at night to their homes in outside neighborhoods and live peacefully while our home life has become unbearable.

I support free speech, free expression, and equal justice for all, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of innocent bystanders. An unfortunate consequence of this is that these individuals are clearly stating that their rights should be taken more seriously than our rights. And that isn’t a fair tradeoff. Why should our basic rights of living peacefully in our homes be trampled on by those who don’t reside in the neighborhood, create unsanitary conditions, cause undue safety issues, and commit crimes. Where is the justice in that?

The question the elected officials must ask themselves is whether they stand for the individuals who have knowingly decided that the law does not pertain to them and side with out of towners or enforce the law and adequately protect those that put them in office. The answer to this question will be apparent in their actions and the members of the community will judge you in this light on election day.

Margaret Chin, who represents the Financial District in the New York City Council, and Daniel Squadron, who serves the same role in the New York State Senate, have been among the leading advocates of their district’s continued occupation. It’s not clear what will change (other than the weather), until and unless someone decides to run against them.

Avik RoyMr. Roy, the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, is a former policy adviser to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio.