Harlem Residents Tossed Out Of de Blasio Town Hall

More than a dozen East Harlem residents were tossed out a town hall meeting Thursday night after giving Mayor Bill de Blasio an earful over his controversial rezoning plan to bring more high-rise housing to the neighborhood.

De Blasio throughout the evening repeatedly defended the plan, claiming it’s a key component to fulfilling his promise to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in the city over 10 years. He also rejected assertions that he was pushing the rezoning to fatten the pockets of developers who donated to his campaigns.

However, many at the town hall meeting at Johnson Community Center were not buying it, alleging the plan is really about gentrifying the neighborhood.

One woman questioned how de Blasio could be supportive of Puerto Rico following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria yet push a rezoning proposal that might price out Puerto Ricans and other minority groups from the neighborhood.

“Affordable housing is nothing for people with low income; it’s for people with middle income,” she said. “We say ‘no’ to racist rezoning. What do you have to say about that?”

De Blasio snapped back, “If it makes you feel good to say that and not look at the facts, God bless you!”

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Not happy with de Blasio’s response, another resident nearby shouted back, “Bullsh-t!”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district includes East Harlem, jumped to the mayor’s defense and tried to defuse the situation, but her interaction got many in the crowd even more angry.

Soon after, security guards escorted about a dozen people out without any incident as they shouted “No rezoning” repeatedly. Prior to the town hall event, many had staged a protest outside the community center and handed out flyers rejecting the mayor’s plan.

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