Least obstructive picket line ever
Written by Bwog Staff
Along Broadway this afternoon, a hodgepodge of Harlemites and Columbia students staged a small-scale demonstration between wooden police divides. The protest was centered around a lawsuit filed by Nick Sprayregen, Manhattanville businessman, and Norman Siegel, his Madison Avenue lawyer trying to get the City to revisit the Manhattanville plan that they already approved in light of environmental concerns.
It just so happens that in the basement of the Manhattanville campus there will be a hazardous biotech lab on, according to the protesters, a flood plane and earthquake fault line. His lawsuit is primarily demanding that the board wait until they can read the engineering studies that are in progress before finalizing their decision. Sprayregen said that in a “3000 page document,” the City was not able to look at every very minor detail of the document vetted carefully. “We’re not against expansion. We only think that biohazard research doesn’t belong in Manhattan,” he said.
The organizing group (Sprayregen said he was only attending to “show support” and that he had no hand in organizing) tended to echo Sprayregen’s ideas, randomly citing Klaus Jacob, a climate change scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Many threw around climate science and engineering terms that this poor Bwogger did not entirely understand, but they seem to claim that if there is a “bathtub” under Manhattanville that holds the leaking biohazards and if the Hudson water-level rises as a result of Global Warming/Climate Change, it could flood the bathtub and spread the toxins across Harlem.
Some, however, were protesting against the expansion on more general terms. The most common call and response chant of the group was that 125th-133rd streets, CB9, barrios, Columbia Students, the Core Curriculum were all “not for sale.” One resident’s poster contained a rendition of what seemed to be the hunger striker’s octopus devouring Manhattanville.
After marching around the Broadway side Journalism for about an hour, the protesters got permission from police to make a circuit around College Walk, where they continued their chants to the bemusement of many a student. When they finished back at Journalism, they resumed pacing back and forth on their stretch of sidewalk. While it seems like Sprayregen’s lawsuit may be the last stand against the Columbia plan (the statute of limitations on the decision passed last Wednesday), the demonstrators did not seem desperate, rather, determined not to lose their homes and businesses. The full notice of petition and verified petition.