Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stop Simon Properties Group's & Neiman Marcus' ' "Jim Crow" Skyscraper Project at Copley Place in Boston's Back Bay: Part 11 (Mel King's Open Letter)

In November 2011, former Massachusetts State Representative and 1979/1983 Boston Mayoral Candidate Mel King explained why the Boston Redevelopment Authority [BRA], the Democratic Patrick Administration and the Democratic Menino Administration should not allow Simon Properties Group [SPG] to reconstruct and expand the Copley Place project (by building a 47-story skyscraper of mostly luxury residential units and an enclosed “winter garden” on the Copley Place project land in 2012) in the following “Open Letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino”:

“To the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Governor and the Mayor

“This is a request that you not be guilty of promoting a segregated housing program here at Copley Place . The Copley Expansion Project that is under consideration under your leadership should not be allowed to go forward. There are many reasons that have been raised by way of serious objections from the local community to the plans for The Copley Expansion. For me, the most crucial one, the one I believe causes the most harm, is the acceptance of a proposal that will; A) Allow segregated housing on public land and B) Create conditions that will further exacerbate the housing problems and the ability to exist in this neighborhood by folks of color and persons of lower income. The economic and social diversity of our community is threatened.

“I have spent a large part of my life dealing with segregation. What is the most egregious and one of the most serious aspects of this proposal, is how many people turn a blind eye to the kind of impact that projects based on segregation like this will have on individuals. I have heard the voices of the youth who clearly see that they are being pushed out of the South End. They understand far too clearly that the policies and practice are geared to the study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council that says that in the next 20 years over thirty percent of the people who are living in Boston whose incomes are low will be living at least 25 miles from the center of the city. So when you understand that and you attend meetings where there is an indifference to these issues, it reminds me of the signs that I saw when I went South to college. So it is not a question for me of whether there will be 25 percent of the housing as affordable or not. I start with the fact that this is a project or process that one cannot trust.

“One of the things that we hear about The Copley Expansion Project is that they will create some jobs and therefore the scars that it places on people of color do not matter. This is part of the reason why it took so long to end the segregated systems both here and in the South. Yes, there were some people who stood because they understand injustice. The fact of the matter is that if the people themselves who were affected had not stood up and marched and did not face the cattle prods and the fire hoses and sometimes death; things to whatever extent would have not changed. I feel, and see, a similar thing that is necessary here. It is interesting that in the shadow of the Expansion Project there are folks who are involved in Occupations as a way to confront and expose the same kind of behavior which put profits before people’s humanity and dignity.

“You, as elected officials, and as members of the Boston Redevelopment Authority have a moral of responsibility and we do not want you to get sucked in with a policy that is geared to dehumanize. You have a chance to establish a policy of inclusion where all the tribes are welcome and all the gifts are shared. It’s time for you to step up and provide leadership based on justice. The issue of jobs and money is what allowed slavery to exist. Do not become advocates for a system that uses the public land to put greed before a person’s dignity, a community’s dignity and spiritual and mental health. Make it known that projects like this are not welcome.

“Mel King”

No comments: