The Pleasures of Protest: Taking on Gentrification in Chinatown

“I began to understand that gentrification, which was so often described as white people moving into a neighborhood and displacing long-time residents, was actually a process that was far more complex.”

Longreads

Esther Wang | Longreads | August 2016 | 17 minutes (4,223 words)

On a cold night in the early winter months of 2007, I was with a group of tenants — all Latino and Chinese immigrant families — clustered together in front of their home, two buildings on Delancey Street that straddled the border between Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We were there, shivering in the cold, to protest their landlords.

Ever since they bought the two buildings in 2001, the owners of 55 Delancey and 61 Delancey Street — Nir Sela, Michael Daniel, and 55 Delancey Street Realty LLC — had been attempting to kick out the Chinese and Latino families who had lived there, but in recent months, the situation had come to a head. They had begun aggressively bringing tenants to housing court, often on trumped up charges (one lawsuit argued that, based on the number…

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