PRESS RELEASE: Sunset Park Rent Strikers to Celebrate Judicial Order Against Abusive Superintendant
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 20, 2012
CONTACT: Dennis Flores 917-995-6558; David Galarza 917-573-9250
Sunset Park Rent Strikers to Celebrate Judicial Order Against Abusive Superintendant: Super Ordered to Vacate Premises, Given Two Orders of Protection & Assault Charges Upgraded
WHAT: Sunset Park Rent Strikers, Occupy Sunset Park, la Casita Comunal de Sunset Park, Trinity Lutheran Church and many supporters to celebrate legal victory against abusive building superintendant
WHEN: Monday, August 20, 2012 at 3 pm
WHERE: 553-46th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
On Monday, August 20, 2012 at 3 pm at 553-46th Street, Sunset Park Rent Strikers, members of Occupy Sunset Park, Trinity Lutheran Church, la Casita Comunal de Sunset Park and other supporters will celebrate a judges order to remove an abusive building super from his apartment (under NYPD supervision he has until 4 pm today to pack and leave his apartment) while also issuing two orders of protection and upgrading his assault charges. The court postponed Sunset Park activist Dennis Flores's case until September 12th since his paperwork miraculously disappeared.
Sunset Park Rent Strikers, Rev. Sam Cruz and Rev. Vanessa Cardinale from Trinity, OSP, La Casita and supporters rallied and later filled up a courtroom at the Red Hook Community Justice Center early this morning to demand that tenant rent striker Francisca Ixtilico's assaulter and building super, Israel Espinoza, get properly charged with felony 2nd degree assault for sending her to the hospital with cerebral bleeding. 72nd pct police officers arrested both OSP organizer, Dennis Flores and super, Israel Espinoza, and charged them with 3rd degree assault, a misdemeanor for fighting each other and for the supers assault on tenant striker, Francisca.
Espinoza walked away from the 72nd pct. with just a desk appearance ticket, before police had even begun their investigation of Francisca's assault and begun contacting hospital officials to learn of the extent of her injuries. Police officers were more focused on arresting OSP organizer Dennis Flores, who had come to the defense of Francisca by taking Espinoza off Francisca Ixtilico. She spent a week in the hospital with bleeding in the brain.
Background:For years residents at three adjacent buildings in Sunset Park, Brooklyn (545, 553, and 557 on 46th St) have been living in fear of fires and electrical blackouts. Despite numerous complaints made to city agencies and politicians’ offices, documented housing violations (including unsafe electrical wiring, a broken boiler, and disease-triggering agents like mold, cockroaches, rats, and bed bugs) continue to threaten the lives of dozens of residents.
While many of these violations have persisted for years, the situation became more dire in recent months as the buildings underwent foreclosure. The buildings’ owner, Orazio Petito, has refused to do necessary repairs and continues to insist that tenants pay their rent. In the meantime, a cheap plastic fan is being used to keep the basement’s electrical box from overheating and catching fire.
In apartments that include a pregnant woman with two children, disabled tenants, and individuals with chronic conditions, residents went without heat and hot water during the winter months. Today, they face the threat of more blackouts and fear an electrical fire if they use much-needed air conditioning. For many residents, waiting weeks for a court order poses an intolerable risk to their lives. “Do we have to wait for a tragedy before we see action?” asked tenant leader Sara Lopez.
On July 5th, the affected tenants and various community members and allies, including members of Occupy Sunset Park and Occupy Wall Street, held a rally to stress the urgency of the repairs. The rally was immediately followed by a march to Felix Ortiz’s office. Felix Ortiz, a New York State assemblyman elected by Sunset Park residents, personally promised Sara and other tenants that he would work to resolve their unsafe housing dilemma. After weeks of no action, the tenants occupied Felix Ortiz’s office and demanded a meeting last Monday.
Tenants have made it clear that if their demands for immediate repairs are not made, they will consider taking matters into their own hands, utilizing the support from groups like Take Back the Land and Occupy Wall Street to take on the emergency repairs. Such a step would represent the first such tenant mobilization effort in Brooklyn in recent memory.