Arrests in East River Park

Protesters fight to preserve a cherished green space as destruction of the park begins

| 06 Nov 2021 | 10:23

Two arrests were made on November 1 at East River Park after protestors tried to block the city’s destruction of the park’s tennis courts. One of those arrested was Allie Ryan, the City Council member for District 2. Following the arrests, the Appellate Division court ordered a week-long postponement of work in the park.

East River Park Action (ERPA), the group leading the protest, has been trying for months to stop the destruction of East River Park. The city plans to tear down the park for the next five years and rebuild it so that it will prevent flooding for the next fifty years. ERPA believes the city will destroy a cherished park in the name of coastal resiliency by uprooting about a thousand trees and raising the ground level by filling the park with a million tons of soil.

ERPA members don’t trust that the city will reopen the park, and don’t think that Lower East Side residents should have to lose a massive green space for so long. “They’re destroying over 50 acres of green space, public space and 1,000 trees,” says Laura Berger, a protester who came back the day after the arrests.

ERPA also claims that they are advocating for people in the neighborhood. “They’re afraid they’re gonna talk, they’re gonna get kicked out of the apartments,” says Tonto Cabrera, a sixteen-year resident of the Lower East Side, referring to the large immigrant population in the neighborhood. However, critics of the group argue they are mostly outsiders coming into the neighborhood and trying to push their own agenda on a lower-income community.

The following photos capture the beginning of the construction and East River Park as it currently is.