Starting Thursday, “members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, St. Mary’s Congregations for Justice and Peace, Harlem community members, and students of Columbia University” met up to #occupy Tuck-It-Away Storage. Tuck-It-Away, located at 655 W. 125th St., was the last legal battleground of our Manhattanville expansion. Of the many demands that the coalition fights for, one says it all: that “Residents under threat of forced displacement by the University be permitted to stay in their homes and communities” (emphasis theirs).
They’re still set up today, so Bwog, wiping its bleary eyes, trekked north.
It’s a scene. Ten or so occupiers stand around, talking to one another and sharing fliers with passersby. There are no drum circles, no mic checks, and no chanting. Amidst the encampment, bright-eyed undergrads mix with disillusioned senior residents and middle-aged attendees over snackfoods. The average age rests somewhere north of #OWS.
There is one cop hanging out at the fringe who says that he’d been there for a few hours without seeing any sort of disturbance. He describes the occupiers as decent people. This is most likely a product of him having just worked at Occupy Wall Street, where it was a lot harder to keep everyone controlled. He also mentions that the encampment at Tuck-It-Away is the only NYC occupation of its kind uptown.
Occupier Elliott Grieco, CC ’12, has slept at Tuck-It-Away for two nights now. “Last night we had 16 staying over, the night before, 25,” he says. It makes sense, he says, to camp out in front of Tuck-It-Away since the University is seizing the property via eminent domain. Another, old, occupier asked Elliott if he know “Chibby,” the guy he was texting to sounds the muster at Tuck-It-Away. Chibby is apparently important at “Occupy Downtown,” and the older guy sort of sneered when Elliott explained that he wasn’t really down there all that often.
Bwog spoke to another occupier, a resident and 1966 graduate of Columbia College. This alumnus bemoaned the loss of diversity he perceived in Morningside, which he attributes to Columbia’s expansion. In his words, Morningside has undergone “ethnic cleansing and economic homogenization” since then, processes that he does not wish to see repeated farther north. A black, middle-aged, female, resident talking with us had only to say, “It’s apartheid, that’s all it is.”