I’m a committed New York sports fan. More importantly, I’m a Brooklyn native, someone who tearfully looks at the Ebbets Field housing complex and longs for the days when Brooklyn used to come strong with its own pro sports team.
But as hard as I try, I can’t bring myself to root for the “Brooklyn” Nets, the team that in mere weeks will be playing basketball, barely a mile and a half from my house, at the new Barclays Center.
To me, Barclays looks like a spaceship masquerading as a giant, rusty, new-age toilet. And like an invading force preparing for a long occupation of the homeland, it grows daily in size and sophistication while monitoring the commute of humankind across Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
But more than anything else, the Barclay’s Center – its very name is a testament to Wall Street colonization – is a constant reminder of everything the Brooklyn Movement Center spends its days fighting against. Supremely arrogant and audacious in its flexing of power, the developer, Forest City Ratner, rode into town with politicians, government agencies and local clergy tucked away in its back pocket, cynically promising jobs to an employment-starved Black and Latino population, and steam rolling over land use decision-making. Proposed as the glitzy anchor to a Manhattanization of downtown Brooklyn, Barclays is anti-neighborhood, a place where streets and social relationships alike have been re-mapped, and community self-determination is vacuumed away.
The fight to stop the massive over-development of downtown Brooklyn and the gentrifying forces it will unleash was over long time ago. There are, supposedly, 16 high-rise buildings still left to be built on Atlantic Yards. But organizations like Develop-Don’t-Destroy Brooklyn and FUREE continue to hold the Atlantic Yards developers accountable to the affordable housing, job-creation, and other community benefits that were promised. (Check out the latest in the Atlantic Yards Report).
The struggle continues. Let’s go Knicks.