Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tom Kappner's Public Session Statement at CB9M General Board Mtg. 10/18/2007

From: TKappner
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 11:44:45 EDT
Subject: Oct 18 Statement

Statement at Pubic Session of October (18th) 2007
General Board Meeting of Community Board 9- Manhattan

Good evening everyone; Tom Kappner with the Coalition to Preserve Community.

So we are coming into the home stretch as far as the ULURP is concerned. And I am here to tell you that the battle is not over, and it won't be with the ULURP.

But in the end we will prevail. We will win regardless of the forces against us and no matter how much they stack the deck, so long as we stay united and remain faithful to what has driven us all along. Let's not get sidetracked and let's stick to the basic truth.

There is a right and there is a wrong; and we are right and Columbia and its apologists--including those who are supposed to represent us--are wrong.

We have worked hard to formulate a path that leads to a brighter future for our community AND for Columbia. We can build on and benefit from each others strengths--a world class University with so much to offer and a unique and wonderful community, in genuine partnership and integrally connected.

We do not need the wrong approach championed by Columbia and the elected officials who have betrayed us--and always remember, they need us more than we need them. We do not need a plan that has the destruction of the existing community at its core, that will continue to diminish housing for our people, create fewer jobs for residents than it eliminates, bring us potential environmental hazards, irreversibly alter our richly diverse socio-economic fabric, and disrespect our historical and architectural integrity. The basic truth is that Columbia's plans are just plain wrong.

And the basic truth is that if we remain united and faithful to what is right, we will prevail.
This Community Board has shown the way with its unity and determination. And we will succeed in the end no matter what the powers that be decree. They can only succeed if we let them.

I have experienced it many times in my lifetime. I have seen the brutal dictatorships of my homeland overturned when the populace stood up and said enough is enough. I have seen Jim Crow defeated in the South when Black sharecroppers stood up to Mr. Charlie. I have seen the community on my block survive even though we were told by the University that we had six months to pack up and leave, that our buildings would come down. After twenty five years of trying to convert us into dormitories, we are still there. I saw Columbia stopped dead in its tracks in 1968, when the students said enough is enough.

And I am telling you, that if we remember what's right and what's wrong, and we do not allow others to make us give in; WE WILL WIN.

I have said this before. We have many voices and we are many different people, but we have ONE strong message: We love our community and we will defend it, as Malcolm would have said, by any means necessary.

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