Volume 78 / Number 3 - June 18 - 24, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Villager photos by Q. Sakamaki

Funky East Village will ‘die hard,’ protesters vow

Outraged that the New York Young Republicans Club had recently held a monthly social gathering at Bruce Willis’s new Bowery Wine Co. on E. First St., East Village activists staged a rowdy protest outside the place on Friday night. Calling Willis’s bar a symbol and symptom of the neighborhood’s transformation by gentrification, they toted signs saying “Die Hard” and “Deport Developers Not Mexicans.” Out-of-town visitors atop double-decker tour buses got an eyeful and earful of the protest, as well, as the demonstrators held up their “F—k U Yuppie Scum” signs for them to read, sure to be a treasured souvenir of their visit to New York. The event then moved up the Bowery past the former site of legendary CBGB music club, now the John Varvatos boutique, and the activists’ tempers nearly boiled over. The route ended, not uncoincidentally, at the Christadora House, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue B; the former settlement house tower-turned-luxury condo building was a lightning rod for anger during the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots. Some of the anti-gentrification group confronted Michael Rosen, a Christadora resident who developed the Red Square apartments on E. Houston St., when he came up to speak to them. More recently, Rosen and his group, East Village Community Coalition, spearheaded the effort to rezone the East Village and Lower East Side and are now pushing a new initiative to protect local, small retailers from being displaced by chain stores. Afterwards, John Penley, one of the rally’s organizers, stressed that a pressing issue is that the neighborhood’s existing infrastructure might not be able to support all the new development. Local politicians should study this problem, he said.

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