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(en) US, Action at Esperanza Garden in New York, NY

From "Thomas Johansson" <tcjohans@hotmail.com>
Date Wed, 8 Mar 2000 00:45:21 -0500


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Background check: Esperanza garden was a beautiful
and well cared for community garden on east 7th street
between C+B. The gardens in Loisaida are the only
exposure to nature people here have. Ever since the
city imposed a curfew on Tompkins Square park, the
gardens have grown as a warm meeting spot to sit
around the fire and eat, or camp out in on those
sensual starry nights......... it's a necessity. So
when the city decided to bulldoze Esperanza to make
way for "low and middle income housing" (yet they
always seem to become yuppie condos instead, hmm), the
folks in the neighborhood were sad and pissed off.
Lots of little kids pretty much grew up in Esperanza,
and community artists installed a huge replica of El
Coqui (a Puerto Rican tree frog species) there, with
huge eyes for windows and even a telephone inside the
body! The garden has been gone for about a month now,
maybe even less time. In its place is a gigantic
plywood wall, with "more gardens" and "bring back
Esperanza" painted on the facade. Flowers and candles
are packed on the sidewalk, as if someone died on that
spot. Almost a premonition of what happened last
night. The RTS crew (and I should disclaim by saying
that I'm sure RTS was not at all responsible, but that
it was the actions of many independents blah blah
blah..) went over to 7th street and tore down the
wall, exposing the sad shell and dry plains of what
was once our beautiful garden. Then in a flurry of
anger and frustration, feelings escalated into
riotousness. The cops went wild as usual, having no
regard for humans beyond their status as numbers and
colors (skin color, hair color....it just ain't
normal). One woman was told to get out of the street
and stand on the sidewalk, but with all the action,
the sidewalk was mighty crowded. So as she struggled
to get out of the way of the cops, her movements were
taken as resistant, and she was slammed down face
first, stood upon as her jaw broke, hancuffed, and
arrested. She is now in the prison ward of Bellevue
hospital, famous as a snake pit-style mental trap,
denied visitors when she needs them the most. She's
being charged with assault, which is impossible since
one of the many videographers caught her movements on
tape. Police will do whatever they can, though, to
make people believe that they were somehow in personal
danger when they decided to literally or figuratively
pull the trigger. The woman (who by the way is like
five feet tall and always offers a hug, she's so
NICE....) may be convicted with a minimum sentence of
one year. Twelve people were arrested mostly for civil
disobedience. One friend of mine, a mister Okra P.
Dingle, is in the tombs right now, also with strict
restrictions on visitors. He was beaten in the face
until bloody, and fears he may have at least one
broken rib. His requests for medical attention have so
far been ignored. I'm not sure what the cops charged
him with.
   Every day it's something new. As far as the Diallo
case is concerned, I've been out of the loop a bit. I
know that spirits are raised by the federal civil
rights investigation that has begun, which may lead to
a new (federal) trial and hopefully a conviction for
the killers, who if I may remind you once more, are
still walking around with their guns and their jobs as
"serve and protection."

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