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East Village community activists plan to mark the 10-year anniversary of the eviction of the CHARAS Community and Cultural Center on Sun., Dec. 18, with music, food, dancing and a community speak-out.
Participants in the CHARAS / El Bohio Holiday Party and Community Potluck, will rally at noon in Tompkins Square. At 12:30, they’ll march over to the former CHARAS / El Bohio, the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St. between Avenues B and C.
“Dance, speak out, and help us to create a community center in the street,” a press release for the event said. “One day the developer’s blue wall [construction fence] will come down, and that community center will be back inside where it belongs.”
“Potluck! Bring a dish to share!” the statement urges.
CHARAS is an acronym of initials of Lower East Side gang members — including Chino Garcia and the late Armando Perez — who squatted in the abandoned school, then turned it into a beloved community and arts center that occupied the building for 20 years.
In 1999, the place was auctioned off to developer Gregg Singer, who evicted CHARAS in December 2001. The 150,000-square-foot building, zoned for community-facility use, has sat vacant since.
A group including former squatters recently proposed Singer give the community two floors, or 40,000 square feet, to house a community center and nonprofit tenants. But, according to Steve Sinclair, an E. 10th St. resident who recently met with Singer, the developer is only willing to give the community 5,000 square feet.