Social Justice

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Underground Railroad Tours Are a Hot Ticket: Could NYC’s Abolitionist History Get Easier to Access?

Juneteenth Grove. (Photos: Anna Venarchik)

“It’s very spiritual for me to be . . . on these grounds where my ancestors walked and struggled. It’s amazing to be here on this tour,” Brooklyn native Michael Garrett said Saturday as he followed the wide-brimmed hats of New York City park rangers through Brooklyn Heights. More →

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During Town Hall, Some (But Not All) Electeds Pledge to Cancel Rent

Charles Barron pledges to support rent reform bills.

Outraged activists, distressed renters, proud union leaders, mayoral campaigners, assembly members, state senators, and at least one reporter attended Brooklyn’s Tenant Town Hall last night. The participant list blossomed around 6:45pm, and neared 270 at its pinnacle. On the virtual discussion table was a package of nine bills to address New York City’s growing housing crisis, a crisis that mass unemployment throughout the pandemic has exacerbated. As many as one million current renting households in New York are at risk of eviction if moratoriums are lifted—or if housing bills aren’t passed to protect vulnerable tenants. More →

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A Food Pantry Offers ‘Pretty Legendary’ Meals to College Students, No Questions Asked

Volunteers outside of College Student Pantry. (Photos: Kenna Beban)

“So what I did is I made a salad with the greens,” said Ana Moritz, NYU senior and home chef. “This super fancy thing of greens that was all these different kinds of kale I’d never heard of. And I made a creamy dressing with mustard, egg yolk, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, some honey. And then I had those greens with chickpeas, I got a can of chickpeas. And I also got an apple, so I put apple in the salad.” More →

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A Taste of What Food Pantries Are Doing to Combat NYC’s Mounting Hunger Crisis

In September and October, nearly one-third of adult New Yorkers reported that they had used a food pantry in the last year, according to a report published by Robin Hood in partnership with Columbia University. The staggering numbers represented a 250 percent increase relative to January and February, before the Covid-19 pandemic began in earnest. More →

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NYPD Violence Against Black Lives Matter Protesters Was Part of a Plan

(Photos: Erin O’Brien)

Early in the evening of June 3, 2020, Mattie Barber-Bockelman marched from Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn towards Cadman Plaza, near the Brooklyn Bridge. This was Barber-Bockelman’s first protest after months of lockdown, but she knew what to do from posts on Instagram and Twitter. Barber-Bockelman is white, and positioned herself at the edge of the crowd, between Black protesters and the police.  More →

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Manhattan’s Last Home For Artists Weathers Another Storm

Westbeth’s exterior (Photo: Steven Bornholtz, via Wikimedia)

In the middle of the night in early November 2012, Karen Santry dressed in a wetsuit and skulked down the stairs of her West Village apartment building, hoping not to wake anyone. Hurricane Sandy had just struck the East Coast, battering much of New York City. Santry’s home had been without power, heat, and water for days. In the week following the storm, she and her fellow residents of Westbeth Artists Housing used flashlights to navigate darkened corridors. The more intrepid shuttled water in buckets up the stairs of her 13-story building.   More →

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With Protests on the Back Burner, Where Is the Black Chef Movement Headed?

(Photo courtesy of Turner Johnson)

As people took to the streets of New York City following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis back in May, members of the Black Chef Movement took to their kitchens to prepare healthy meals for the protesters on the movement’s frontlines. An initial Instagram post on June 3 asking for volunteers led to an organization of nearly 100 members and an Instagram following of more than 8,000. While the movement has been a success, it’s experiencing some growing pains now that its original mission is fading along with the protests. More →

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Photographer’s Avenger, Judge’s Nightmare: The Case of Copyright Lawyer Richard Liebowitz

(Photo courtesy of Richard Liebowitz)

In the five years his firm has been opened, Richard Liebowitz, a photographer turned attorney, has managed to file more than 2,500 copyright infringement cases. In that same period, he has earned another distinction: he has become the most frequently sanctioned lawyer in the Southern District of New York. 

Federal judges in the District and elsewhere, exasperated with the number of cases and Liebowitz’s alleged misconduct, have labeled him the “copyright troll.”  More →

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Fight Intensifies Over Exam That’s Said to Keep Black Students Out of NYC’s Elite High Schools

Members of PLACE staged a rally at City Hall in October to advocate for the SHSAT. (Photo: Jasmine Photo)

One month after Sierra Fraser participated in a demonstration against New York City’s high school admissions testing, she’s visibly distressed about the experience.

“It was rough,” the 18-year-old college freshman tells me over Zoom, her hair sitting atop her head in a tight bun and her voice quickly turning from quiet and composed to loud and frustrated. Sierra adjusts her glasses and looks up at the ceiling: “We were chanting ‘Black students matter,’ and they yelled back ‘All students matter.’ Their signs said ‘Education for all,’ but how can you say ‘Education for all’ and not support a more inclusive education system for Black and brown students?” More →