2021 Year in Review: Coalition to Protect Chinatown & LES

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

2021 has been a year of resilience and achievements for our community fighting against racism and displacement. Despite the challenges, we’ve seen amazing victories and our energy continues to grow. Here’s our year in review.

Our community spoke out as the City appealed the court decision that put an injunction against the construction of luxury towers on the Two Bridges waterfront. Over 150 people joined our zoom rally before the Appellate court hearing. The Appellate court overturned the decision despite Mayor de Blasio’s clear violation of the law when he approved towers that would be detrimental to the environment and to people’s health. But the fight continues, with a renewed push to pass the full Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan (CWG) which would stop luxury high-rises like these towers.

Jonathan Chu, the biggest landlord in Chinatown and co-chair of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), displaced Jing Fong Restaurant, causing more than a hundred workers to lose their jobs and the community to lose a staple gathering place. The Jing Fong workers and the community launched a picket line in front of Chu’s institutions and businesses and called for boycotts until they reopen the big Jing Fong dining room.

Chinatown and the Lower East Side united with SoHo and NoHo to oppose Mayor de Blasio’s SoHo/NoHo Rezoning, which would allow big landlords like the Chu family to build luxury high-rises while raising rent and real estate taxes in the surrounding area, including Chinatown, which would displace middle- and low-income families and small businesses.

City Council candidate Christopher Marte, who ran on a platform  of passing the community-led CWG Plan to stop luxury high-rises, gained the support of tenants and workers across the district and won overwhelmingly in the Democratic primary. It was an indication that the community had come together to fight back against Council Member Chin’s sellout pro-developer agenda and the big real estate interests she represented.

While the community protested MOCA for accepting Mayor de Blasio’s $35 million to support a new jail,, museum president Nancy Yao Maasbach came out and insulted Chinese seniors who joined the protest, claiming they were “paid protestors”, and that Chinese getting paid to protest is “a historic trend.” Our seniors stood up to condemn MOCA’s blatant racism.

Hundreds marched down the streets of Chinatown against racist violence that’s perpetrated by so-called community representatives MOCA and the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). 

Our Coalition worked with artists who stood with the community to open a one-day art & health fair in front of MOCA, showcasing Chinatown’s history against racism and artwork on the community’s resistance and spirit of unity. The art exhibit now continues at the Citygroup space at 104b Forsyth Street.

The community’s petition for the City to intervene to reopen the Jing Fong dining room, stop the new jail, fund neighborhood recovery, reject the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning and pass the CWG plan got 10,000+ signatures. Council Member-elect Marte joined our press conference as we delivered the petition to Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Margaret Chin and Mayor-elect Eric Adams. 

Your participation is indispensable to our movement to protect the community. With your continuing support, we are hopeful for a new year with bigger achievements! Currently, as the Jing Fong workers and supporters are maintaining the picket line in front of MOCA, we have launched an art print sale, with earnings going to sustain their effort.

Please consider ordering the print for your New-Year gift and support the workers’ effort!

Have a safe and happy new year.

  • Coalition to Protect Chinatown and LES