Please follow NYC Sweep Alerts on Twitter for immediate, rapid-response calls. 

This week, following the directive from Cop-Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD and DHS (Department of Homeless Services) executed a new and intensified round of encampment-sweeps in multiple locations across the city. Let us be very clear: what is happening this week are systematic evictions, dispossessing our neighbors and community-members of their ways of life, and stealing from them their means of shelter. 

This is theft, this is class war, this is racist and genocidal violence—as we know that the majority of our houseless comrades are black and brown. The demolition of these encampments, that we are witnessing and combatting, is the legacy of racist redlining, gentrification, and forced displacement. 

While these sweeps were happening, there was another more peaceful and more calmly-accepted tent “encampment” being erected in Albany, in the state capitol building. This was a protest led by the Housing Justice For All (HJ4A) coalition, an action pushing for the enactment of Good Cause legislation—which would protect unregulated New York tenants from rent increases and arbitrary evictions—and to fund the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP), as well as against the 421-A tax abatement. While we in Brooklyn Eviction Defense recognize and support these pushes for such helpful legislation, we are compelled to point out the glaring (liberal) contradiction. 

Trotting amongst the earnest base was several non-profit staffers who were being paid their regular non-profit salaries to be arrested (and then to spend a few symbolic hours in ‘jail’ and later sleep soundly in the comfort of their own beds and homes), actual tent-encampments around the city, the actual shelter, and homes of so many, were being literally bulldozed; folks were being violently robbed of their homes and all of their possessions. Revealingly, among the eight ‘activists’ arrested in Albany was an activist-turned-politician now running for Lieutenant Governor. The way in which these sorts of ‘activist stunts’ are employed not only in disregard to actual material violence but in service of careerist liberals must be identified and combatted. 

What, we must ask, has the coalition done in response to the city-wide sweeps? So far, absolutely nothing. Not a coalitional statement nor a militant or even material response. The material response so far has been led by autonomous organizations such as North Brooklyn Essentials and the Rent Refusers Network

Important context: HJ4A is made up of mostly non-profits and a few autonomous organizations; but no autonomous organization sits on the steering committee, where all of the significant campaign and coalition decisions are made. This is relevant because the coalition decided way back in September to allow the eviction moratorium to expire and, in the name of political transaction, to sign-off on these new bleak conditions—this despite its base both direly needing and vocally advocating towards another extension. The increase in houselessness we are seeing in the city, the compounding (and horrific) violence of the escalating sweeps, and this coalition’s liberal fixation on deliverable legislative wins are all deeply related. It is imperative to understand the relations at play: this is capital at work, each violence reifying the other and paving the way, always, for more accumulation. 

Tenant, as a term and guiding framework, covers any individual who is not in control of their housing or shelter. This means that the tenant class includes both renters and homeless folks. Both renters and the homeless are historical protagonists from whose collective power we as an organization derive our revolutionary project: that of full working-class control over housing and community. 

These most-recent sweeps are a continuation—and a violent, fascist escalation—of the long class war that is capitalism and capital accumulation. Inherent to capitalism and to accumulation is exactly this dispossessive function: there is no capitalistic “growth” without the constant and cyclical marginalization, oppression, and violence of the sort that, this week, has besieged our homeless neighbors. 

We, of course, condemn the violence of this week. We condemn the reactionary forces that carried out this violence. We condemn the pig-mayor that directed this violence. We condemn the bankers and landlords, the financiers and the politicians they pay, who collectively produce and reproduce the conditions of this violence. We condemn, further, the liberals whose naivete and selfishness allow for this violence in the name of “normal.” We understand that this recent escalation of violence against our homeless neighbors coincides with the continued rollback of COVID-19 responses (including the eviction moratorium) that provided a bare minimum social safety net during a contained period of “crisis.” Today’s violent eviction of an entire community in full public view is a signal of what “normal” means for all tenants in this city: an acceleration of dispossession and an increase in violent contact with the NYPD. Cops, landlords, and our pig mayor will continue to target the most vulnerable among us in order to immiserate us all.  

Further, we stand in solidarity with our houseless comrades and in solidarity, again, with our comrades in North Brooklyn Essentials and in the Rent Refusers Network who are leading the response to the violence enacted this week.

The above forces—real estate, finance capital, the capitalist state, and its $10 billion enforcement arm—are incredibly and intricately organized, all with a common objective to reiterate and escalate their power to dispossess the working class. The only response, in turn, must be our own revolutionary and disciplined organization as a united class of tenants. It is only through collective, revolutionary mass-organization that we can appropriately confront capital. 

Please follow NYC Sweep Alerts on Twitter for immediate, rapid-response calls. 

– Brooklyn Eviction Defense