A handful of determined community garden activists briefly shut down a public auction of city-owned property Thursday, prompting shouts of “losers!” from the capacity crowd of landlords and developers at One Police Plaza.
The protesters, organized by the Lower East Side Collective, repeatedly submitted fake bids for one of the properties, an empty lot on East 9th St. Three times the lot was sold to one of the protesters, and each time the protester was quickly unmasked by the auction staff and physically removed from the auditorium. “When she approached me for the deposit, I got some change out of the bottom of my bag and put in on her clipboard,” reports protester L. A. Kauffman. “They told me pretty emphatically to get out after that.”
Developer Donald Capoccia, who has been attacked by activists for developing four East Village community gardens as part of the New York City Housing Partnership’s Del Este Village condo project, was at the auction throughout the morning but made no bids on downtown land.
Those projects are still in limbo, blocked by a stop order imposed more than two weeks ago when lot excavation on Avenue B and 11th St. reportedly damaged the foundation of an adjacent building, causing its evacuation. Tenants of the damaged building may be able to move back this week, as work shoring up the foundation wraps up.