Locals Plan to Arrest Bruce Ratner at Noon on Wednesday, Disappointingly Eschew Violence
By Roy Edroso
Jan. 26 2010
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and other opponents of the Atlantic Yards land grab that's throwing many citizens out of their Brooklyn homes invite you, dear reader, to help them arrest developer and AY kingpin Bruce Ratner tomorrow. The citizen posse does not promise violence, but does suggest it will be good times all around. The warrant will be served at noon on Wednesday.
The charge, we are told in a DDDB post that appears to have been removed (though a press release has been disseminated), is "bribing a public official," presumably referring to the effect of Ratner's millions on public policy rather than to related crimes that are actually being prosecuted.
Once the "number of community groups, homeless advocates and political leaders" who are doing this thing have Ratner in custody, they will invite attorney general Andrew Cuomo to do his duty (and also to give back the campaign donations he has accepted from Ratner and his company).
"Nobody is going to physically abduct" Ratner, the release says, which is mildly disappointing, as they haven't a chance in hell of bringing Ratner to justice otherwise.
Ratner Escapes Arrest Attempt by Homeless
Cuomo Also Refuses To Respond to Atlantic Yards-Angry Protesters
A homeless man named Bernard (left) holds up his homeless pass as he and protest leader Steve de Seve (right)
board the B51 bus to Manhattan to try to speak with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
by Samuel Newhouse (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Homeless people and community activists gathered in Downtown Brooklyn Tuesday to make a citizen’s arrest of developer Bruce Ratner – but the real estate mogul never showed up.
The attempted citizen’s arrest was planned by patrons of Freddy’s Bar, FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality) and homeless advocates, partly in response to the closure of a homeless shelter in the footprint of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project that displaced dozens of people.
Protestors who gathered intended to arrest Ratner to make him stand trial for a corruption investigation in Yonkers connected to one of his projects, according to the protesters.
But Steve de Seve, the patron of Freddy’s Bar who led the arrest attempt, was informed by a representative of Ratner who came down from MetroTech that the developer would not appear.
“He told me that Mr. Ratner is not in the building. I informed him that Mr. Ratner is being a coward,” de Seve told the group of protesters afterward.
“I’d rather someone face us than duck us,” de Seve said. “They ignored the lawsuit, they ignored the rally at Freddy’s. They’re not going to like what’s next.”
A press release circulated by the activists had explained that they wouldn’t try to physically abduct Ratner, but that they wanted to help him to surrender himself to a police officer in their presence, and go with the group to the office of New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to be charged.
There are no charges pending with the attorney general against Ratner.
The closure of the Pacific Dean Homeless Shelter on Martin Luther King day was likely the main cause for the protest, however.
“They’ve closed the door to 80 families’ worth of people,” de Seve said. “We want these shelters reopened. These are our neighbors.”
An unidentified legal advisor who said he worked for the NYPD in MetroTech told the group that an arrest was not legally possible.
“If probable cause and sufficient evidence are found, then there’s an arrest. There’s not an arrest before the investigation, before probable cause, before sufficient evidence is found,” the man, identified only as Tony, told the group. Numerous requests to the NYPD for the man’s name were not answered.
After giving up on Ratner, the group took the B51 bus to Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, to demand that Cuomo return campaign contributions he allegedly received from Ratner, for Cuomo’s expected campaign for governor.
“There is a federal indictment that has all the evidence [Cuomo] needs to go after Mr. Big, who got $600 million,” de Seve said, referring to the alleged corruption in Yonkers.
However, Cuomo did not come out and did not send any representative down to talk to protesters, according to FUREE board member Beverly Corbin.
Corbin and FUREE are deeply critical of the displacement of individuals that the Atlantic Yards project is causing.
“I think it’s a shame that Barclays Bank is involved in this, given their history of destroying communities in Africa during the slave trade, and during the Holocaust,” Corbin said. “For men of color to be chained to run up and down with a ball — I think it’s a shame that the ball players don’t come out and say anything against this.”
“Here in Brooklyn, we have Prospect Park! If you want to run up and down with a ball, go to Prospect Park!” Corbin said.
Turhan White, a Picture the Homeless member who became homeless after a back operation forced him to quit his job, was at the rally to show his support for people displaced from the shelter.
“Thank god I have friends who took me in,” he said, saying he’s currently trying to obtain benefits. “I just work hard, keep fighting, keep my head up.”
De Seve also told the Eagle that an upcoming hearing in Kings County Supreme Court could be crucial to the fight to stop Atlantic Yards from being built.
There are several lawsuits pending in state court with regard to Atlantic Yards. The eminent domain case, however, is all but resolved, and it seems Ratner’s litigation problems may be nearing an end.
De Seve said that according to a source close to the Ratner family, Ratner might not intend to build the arena at all, but just wants to get 22 acres of property. Alternatively, de Seve said, the arena could be built but the rest of the project could become a parking lot.