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(en) US, NYC, Casa Del Sol Community Center Evicted

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(ben_k-A-riseup.net)
Date Fri, 3 Dec 2004 12:00:25 +0100 (CET)

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Casa Del Sol is a five-story autonomous squat, community center and public garden
in the Bronx, New York City. Casa has been occupied for 20 years by anarchists
and the marginalized of NYC. It housed dozens of activists that traveled to NYC for
the RNC convergence in late August of this year, earning escalated harassment from
the authorities and the liberal union-busting "advocacy group" ACORN.
Bronx, NY December 2, 2004 - Thirty residents of Casa Del Sol, a
community center in the South Bronx, are homeless after a fire partially
destroyed their building and sent 16 firefighters to the hospital.
Residents blame ACORN, a development group, for allowing the fire to
burn five hours after police evicted the building's residents.

"The circumstances are incredibly suspicious," says former Casa Del Sol
resident Joleene Martin. "The fire happened under their watch. I blame
them for either negligence or malice. Either way, it's their fault."

Police ejected residents on Tuesday, November 30, after a contentious
Buildings Department order. Police cleared residents in 10 minutes and
welded the doors of the building. Shortly thereafter, a fire started on
the third floor of the building. Residents were prepared to challenge
the order in court on January 7.

"We kept this building up for 20 years," says community center volunteer
and resident Jacques Aboaf, 24 "The police were in charge of it for a
couple hours and managed to burn it down."

The Casa Del Sol building was abandoned 20 years ago by its owner and
claimed by its residents. The city has tried to clear out the building
several times throughout the years, using helicopters and riot police.
Still, the building remained more or less continuously occupied and a
source of great frustration for the police.

Two years ago, a battle began between building residents and the
developers ACORN, which wanted to take over the property. ACORN also
wanted access to the adjacent Cherry Tree Garden, a space granted to the
Trust for Public land after Elliott Spitzer's 1999 landmark garden case.

"We're trying to impact this community in a positive way," says former
Casa resident Mark Shenson. "Acorn is just looking to profit off of an
already impoverished community."

Casa Del Sol's most recent projects included a silkscreen shop, a
community garden, an after school program, the Adverse Possession art
gallery, and weekly concerts. Casa Del Sol also hosted an annual street
fair and Halloween party, and houses the offices of the Cherry Tree
Association and the Mutual Aid Project, which produces the New York City
Free Events Calendar.

Residents of the building are staying for three days in a motel room
provided by the Red Cross. Residents will be homeless afterward.



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