Flagging It: A Sunset Park Resident’s Call For Unity
As part of our ongoing Affordability Project, WNYC is taking a close look at Sunset Park in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of development happening along the waterfront, and people who have been priced out of other neighborhoods are moving in. Rents in Sunset Park are rising and some tenants worry they won’t be able to afford their apartments much longer. Others are facing harassment from landlords looking to push them out.
That’s why resident Junior Allende said he’s planting a flag — actually many of them — along the Fifth Avenue entrance to the park. Every day, after he finishes his college classes and is done at work, he said he slides flags representing Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and others into the fence surrounding the park.
“This is about Latinos Unidos, about stopping displacement, stop throwing Latinos out of this community,” Allende said. “But it’s [also] about stop throwing everybody out of this community, whether you’re West Indian, African American, Asian, anybody.”
He said he originally paid for the flags out of his own pocket, but neighbors started pitching in so he could add flags representing more countries. Allende said he usually sticks around for a while to talk to people about his project, whether they’re longtime residents or people who’ve moved to the area more recently. He often describes how landlords cut off services or threaten residents with deportation to get them to leave their apartments. And he said he directs newcomers to nonprofits that provide services to tenants facing harassment or eviction.
“It’s time for us to educate each other,” he said. “It’s time for us to work as one. Because in Nueva York, somos uno: in New York, we’re one.”–Jessica Gould
Co-published with WNYC Studios.