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(en) Us, Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (BAAM)* #5 - page 5 - ICE Strikes Again: Milford, Ma by The Boston May Day Coalition + What's Up With Coney Island?

Date Thu, 27 Dec 2007 10:50:48 +0200

Friday, December 7, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents "supported"
by the Milford Police Department raided an immigrant community, arresting 15
undocumented migrant workers, mostly from Ecuador. The media, sympathetic to
ICE, reported that the workers were charged for violating criminal laws.
However, only one person was charged with violating "criminal laws". In other
words, the raid was about migrant workers and not about criminal law
enforcement. ---- The local Chief of Police, Thomas O'Loughlin is quoted by the
Milford Daily News finds the immigration system in the U.S. "laughable." He
declared, "They'll lock up one, they'll leave three ... We're not going to take
them because there's nowhere to put them." He also added, "If they (ICE) want to
out and get illegal aliens, they can come out any day of the week."

Almost as startling as the raid itself is the unprofes-
sional coverage by the Daily News, who don't interview any
migrant workers, their families or communities. To the reporter
from the Milford Daily News, these workers are "illegals," to the
Chief, they are, "illegal aliens." The Boston May Day Coalition
like much of the rest of the world, believes that that "they" are
above all else, human beings only seeking to survive with dignity.
The Coalition condemns this new raid, and sees it
as part of the continuing war on immigrants. Likewise, we
condemn the baised news coverage. No worker is illegal!

What's Up With Coney Island? by Cady Vishniac

So I went to this party last night and decided to bring lager,
specifically Coney Island-brewed lager, which would give me an
excuse to talk about sideshows and maybe stick a nail up my nose
(Chicks dig it). My plans to gently steer all conversation toward
the only really interesting thing in the entire world -what's going
on at the sideshow and how to do sideshow stunts- was derailed
however, by the many, many people present who had been con-
vinced that Coney Island was about to be "shut down." Friends,
you are not remotely up to date. I'm afraid I must correct this error.
First of all, let me explain why you, as anti-authoritarians,
radicals, and anarchists, should care deeply about Coney Island's
future. Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore is the last remain-
ing ten-in-one circus sideshow in this country. Coney Island's at-
tractions and rides are not part of a giant theme-park, the entirety
of which is owned by somebody on an opposite coast. They're
all owned and operated by locals. Attractions which are unique
to Coney Island being run by people from Coney Island stand in
direct opposition to monoculture. Moreover, Coney Island USA,
the organization which runs the sideshow and sideshow museum,
also produces events of the cheap/free persuasion which give peo-
ple in their low-income neighborhood access to performing arts
which they would otherwise not get to see. Coney Island USA
and the Sideshows by the Seashore are full of awesome people
who come down hard against gentrification and the effect it has
on the neighborhood. They perfect and spread dying arts, actual
dangerous dying arts the performance of which are acts of brav-
ery and knowledge of one's own body that we are discouraged
from by the medical establishment for no particular good reason.
(I am now capable, while fully conscious, of perform-
ing a procedure on myself which one doctor's website re-
fers to as a new surgery, and for which he uses a general anes-
thesia and charges thousands of dollars. More importantly,
when I have a really stuffy nose, I can just shove the snot out.)
Okay, now this is what's actually going on in Coney: You heard
Coney Island was going to be shut down because it was. More spe-
cifically, large swaths of Coney had been bought by Joe Sitt of Thor
Industries for the sole purpose of building expensive condominiums.
The current residents would most likely have been priced out of their
neighborhood, and the amusements would have been displaced
by all the "luxury living." Sitt was doing his best to evict all the
rides and attractions on his newly acquired property, or at least do
as much as possible to make their lives difficult. When his plans
to replace cultural landmarks with boring homes for yuppies cre-
ated a public outcry, Sitt started to promise that some small part
of the amusement area would remain such, only in a sort of Ve-
gas-ified consolidated way. There was still no coherent plan to
include the current amusement-operators in the new Coney Is-
land, which would look more like someplace in California than
Coney Island. Oh, and a bunch of it was still going to be condos.
Another lie/petty concession by Thor Industries included a series
of promises to bring in circuses, thereby justifying the presence of
all those empty lots. (The circuses never showed up and it was sug-
gested that this was just a plan to keep the place ready for condo-
building rather than build permanent amusements.) Basically, Joe
Sitt is a jerk. Googling his name, of course, turns up lots of positive
press written by people who were totally credulous about his claims
that he just wanted to make the most awesomest amusements pos-
sible. The wrangling has actually been going on for a year or two.
What changed, you ask? Well, the mayor's office decid-
ed to score some points with all those angry Coney-Island-
ers by rejecting Thor's plans and putting out better ones. Thor
has been royally screwed by the declaration by the city of New
York that they are not going to be building (...continued on pg 8)
anything on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The people currently
operating Coney Island are also getting screwed, unfortunately,
but not as hard as before. Well, still pretty hard for some of them.
Let me explain:
According to Michael Bloomberg, Coney is going to become
a nationwide attraction. The sideshow will stay. Coney Island USA
and its events will stay. I imagine that the street performers will
stay, although I bet a stupid permitting program will be enacted
there like in tourist areas I've seen already in Boston, Manhattan,
and Baltimore. (Oooh, I do so hope I get lucky and have to audition
for a board hired by a corporation in order to ever go work there.)
The bad news is that independent ride-operators are in some
cases still being squeezed out, with no real place in the city's plans.
What are they being squeezed out for? Generic amusements like
an ice-skating rink and a brand new roller coaster which is ex-
actly like any other roller coaster you could find in any amuse-
ment park in the Northeast. Restaurants and bars. Retail, retail,
and more retail. The sort of things that blur the distinction between
cultural landmark and outdoor mall generating profits for people
who have never been anywhere near Brooklyn. The property val-
ues will skyrocket, rents will go up, and the people who live down
the street from the sideshow and museum right now will be gone.
I imagine that the new Coney Island will be in some ways like Fa-
neuil Hall/Quincy Market, where I currently work. Sure, there will
be history, museums, and meeting halls which are officially open
for public events, but most of it will go unused and unvisited by the
tourists who mostly just walk along outside, stopping in at the Ur-
ban Outfitters before having dinner at a chain restaurant. Politicians
involved will declare it a victory because of the revenues generat-
ed by the stores selling clothes and the restaurants selling burgers.
Those who buy into the political process will declare it a case
of the "little guy" winning due to the fact that they were able
to call the attention of a "friendly" administration to their
plight, ignoring the fact that the littlest guy is the one get-
ting paid less than a living wage by corporate America to make
bad food in a neighborhood where they can't afford to live.

* A General Anarchist Union in the Boston Area
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