The planned destruction of Willets Point may be New York City’s most vile campaign against its own working poor. Now the mechanics that the city wants to throw out on the street are holding a hunger strike in defiance. Let me explain what happened to get to this very low, low point.
Willets Point is very far from a perfect case. The corner of Queens directly behind Mets Stadium is so famous for having chop shops that a movie actually called Chop Shop was filmed there.
Ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in one of his last actions in office, signed a deal to raze the whole oil-and-antifreeze soaked patch of land in favor of a mall. The plan hinged on relocating the mechanics new shops in the Bronx, but the city has been holding back on the money and permits for the new spots.
This means that the mechanics would be kicked out of their shops with nowhere to go. I’ve done some reporting on Willets Point when the city began its eviction plans and every mechanic I talked to echoed the same point – if they weren’t working there, they’d be on the street. There is no safety net for these guys.
So that’s why they’re on a hunger strike now. DeBlasio is still holding to Bloomberg’s plan, but not giving any time or adequate relocation solution to these mechanics. It’s insane.
Watch the above video report and try not to identify with these people, working in spite of every attempt by the city to shut them out of a living.