Brooklyn, NY – A group of squatters is battling it out with authorities over a vacant commercial space in Bushwick that they took over without permission last year.
The retail space in the 1000-block of Broadway in Brooklyn is a former gym that a group of community activists “occupied” and turned into a resource center for the homeless in 2020, Bushwick Daily reported.
In August of 2020, the landlords shut down the illegal use of the space and kicked the group out, according to Left Voice.
The group continued to operate on the sidewalk in front of the building, and because many of its members lived in the residences on the upper floors of the building, they were able to store their tables and other supplies in the building’s hallways, Bushwick Daily reported.
Caitlin Baucom, one of the leaders of the activist group, told the Bklyner that she hadn’t paid rent to the building’s owners since February of 2020.
Because of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s continued moratorium on evictions, the only thing the landlords can do is try to keep trespassers from occupying the unleased space in the building.
On July 20, the activists announced in a press release that they had chosen to “access the ground floor commercial space” and demanded the building’s owners allow them to use it as a care facility for the area’s homeless population, Bushwick Daily reported.
First thing I saw when I pulled up was a police line across from activists securing the door that’s been smashed. I’m unsure how many if anyone is still in the space pic.twitter.com/KNLaAOhl4R
— Elad Eliahu (@elaadeliahu) July 24, 2021
The press release said there were no public restrooms or city cooling centers within 20 blocks of the building’s location.
It also decried the shortage of parks or other places for homeless “to socialize” for free, Bushwick Daily reported.
The group demanded that the space they had illegally occupied be turned back over to them, but offered no explanation for how they intended to pay for the utilities and other expenses associated with the proposed crisis care center.
The group publicly announced their intention to take back the space on July 20, Bushwick Daily reported.
When construction workers arrived to “claim the space” on July 24, the police were called.
A standoff ensued and went on for hours between activist group members who were trying to gain access to the space they had squatted in before and police officers tasked with keeping the property secured.
Multiple protesters were arrested by police.