Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

But We Will Move In

First Published: Getting Together, Vol. 1, No. 5, September-October 1970.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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It is not surprising that within the past years, housing in New York City’s Chinatown has become a problem of mammoth proportions. Since this capitalist system makes low-income housing a not-so-profitable business, no one ever undertakes any such projects. As a result, we have situations in Chinatown like 12 people (2 families) in a 3-room apartment. The scarcity of adequate housing is critical, and yet there are brutal attempts to destroy what housing presently exists.

In the last few years, the power-hungry, land-hungry, mammoth capitalist Telephone Company has been buying up residential land in the Chinatown area. They have purchased almost the whole block bordered by Market, Henry, Catherine and Madison Streets. They plan to smash these buildings down in order to construct a switching station to increase their profit-making capacity. The homes of 300 families are at stake. These predominantly Chinese families are to be evicted with no outlook of finding new, equally suitable housing.

The people of this area have organized themselves into the “We Won’t Move” committee with the assistance of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. This is an unprecedented event in the history of Chinatown. For the first time, the Chinese people are waging a struggle against a white corporation by throwing off the stigma of the “timid” Chinese and fighting for their homes. Much to the dismay of the CCBA businessmen idiots who fear tainting the reputation of Chinatown, the people of this block are creating a lot of noise and publicity about the real conditions that exist.

The climax of these activities came on Friday, September 25th, when community people, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, I Wor Kuen and friends liberated (opened up previously closed apartments) fifty apartments for families that needed them. Some of the conditions we found were surprising. Many of the apartments had been damaged by the Telephone Company’s wreckers; when they moved people out, they also ripped out the plumbing and smashed all the fixtures so that no one could move back in. The Telephone Company intended to trick all our people out.

Despite this, more than 11 families are in the process of moving themselves back in. The strength of this movement is growing every day. As one member of a newly-moved-in family put it, “I don’t care if they jail me. I refuse to live 13 people in 3 rooms any longer.”

On Sunday, September 27th, the Telephone Company harassed the people by arresting two brothers who were cleaning up and putting the apartments back into shape. Within the next couple of days (Monday and Tuesday), plumbing workers were hired by the Relocation Management Association on Henry Street (R.M.A. is paid by the N.Y. Bell Telephone Co. to move people out of Henry, Madison and Market Sts.) to systematically destroy any remaining apartments. They hired undercover plainclothes detectives to snoop on residents of the area, and police patrols were increased in order to prevent any further “liberation” of apartments.

Undoubtedly, what this all represents is all attempt to break up the Chinatown community, an attempt to disperse all our people and prevent us from getting together. Our land, which is being robbed from us under our very noses by this monstrous, land-hungry corporation, is a deliberate attempt to break up our community. Nothing could be clearer than the fact that if we lose this block of Greater Chinatown, we will lose other blocks until nothing remains but restaurants and gift shops on Mott Street.