A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Rally
by Buck Quigley - posted 2:47 pm, August 20, 2010
So I was cutting through the McCarley Gardens apartment complex on my way to the rally organized by the McCarley Gardens Tenant Association yesterday, when I walked right past Reverend Darius Pridgen. He was collecting signatures for something.
I was running a few minutes late, so I kept walking on to the rally. Plus, you never know if the guy is packing heat.
By the time I got there, organizers were moving the meeting out to the sidewalk on Michigan street, directly across from St. John Baptist Church, as directed by three Buffalo police officers and an apartment security officer.
Apparently, the powers that be did not appreciate the tenants gathering together to voice resistance to Reverend Michael Chapman’s plan to sell the HUD subsidized housing to the UB Foundation for $15 million dollars, uprooting some who’ve lived there over 30 years.
Property officials were so touchy they called the cops to push the peaceful group from the contained courtyard out to the sidewalk, where they were all the more visible to the traffic passing by.
According to one tenant, Reverend Pridgen said he needed ten more signatures for something, and she told him to go over to the crowd of a hundred protesters and ask. He would have no part of it. After all, he served as a master of ceremonies at a public meeting promoting the plan to uproot them.
Speakers included Lorraine Chambley, Debra Rose, and Gwen Walker, President, Vice President, and Secretary, respectively, of the McCarley Gardens Tenant Association, Firefighter/Substitute Teacher Bryon McIntyre (who, like Pridgen, will be running for the Ellicott District Common Council seat), and Colin O’Malley, organizer of a new group called Buffalo Tenants United. Activist/lawyer Peter A. Reese provoked laughter and cheers with a hilarious sendup of the secretive UB Foundations that are dangling the money for the sale.
O’Malley’s group is trying to unite renters throughout the city to drive home the idea that housing is a right, not a privilege. “Millions of tax dollars go to projects like the Avant building to offer high-end condos, while there are still 2,000 homeless people in Buffalo,” he pointed out.
One young man testified that McCarley is the nicest place he’s lived, and that he loves it there.
You can support the McCarley Tenants in their struggle by filling out this card and contacting HUD. In order for Chapman to sell the place to the UB Foundation, HUD would have to let him out of the contract he signed in 2005, which was an agreement to keep McCarley Gardens around until 2025.
And since SUNYAB President John Simpson is now calling the “UB2020” plan “UB2030,” it’s hard to see the urgency of kicking people out of their homes so quickly anyway.
Click here to read the testy email Simpson sent out to alumni in New York State when UB2020/PHEEIA fell through.