Saturday, August 19, 2017

Scenes from a Rally

The New York Times reported today: "Tens of thousands of demonstrators, emboldened and unnerved by the eruption of fatal violence in Virginia last weekend, surged into the nation's streets and parks on Saturday to denounce racism, white supremacy and Nazism." Part of those tens of thousands were about a hundred people who gathered here in Hudson, in Seventh Street Park. 

The rally was organized SURJ-Hudson--SURJ being an acronym for "Showing Up for Racial Justice." The invitation to the rally distributed this morning provided a Hudson-specific definition of white supremacy:
On Saturday, August 19, we will stand on Warren Street in the city of Hudson, NY, as a reminder that white supremacy doesn't only express itself in KKK rallies and explicit racism. White supremacy also takes the form of stark segregation along race and class lines that shape our city. White supremacy shows up when our definition of economic development celebrates newness and growth, while producing vast and growing racial and economic inequity. White supremacy shows up when tourist-centered and consumption-based economic development is described as the solution for our communities, when long-term residents are forced out of their homes, and when "revitalization" is defined without meaningful direction from communities of color, poor and working-class people, and youth. And it shows up when we're told that we're unrealistic, or idealistic, for fighting for just and equitable development for all of our city's residents. The white supremacy we see in Charlottesville is intimately connected to the economic injustice we see all around us.
Hudson was recently awarded $10 million to revitalize its downtown, as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). The influx of resources into our community and the "revitalization" of previously disinvested neighborhoods has the potential to severely increase inequity and displacement. It also has the potential to address and transform inequity, by centering people of color and low-income people in every step of the process.
Today, we ask that everyone who rejects white supremacy and stands for racial justice joins us in making these demands of the City and Mayor:
l That the DRI Commission, tasked with overseeing the use of funds, does not contain anyone with a project that would benefit from DRI moneys.
l That the DRI Commission hold a majority of representatives from communities of color, low-income, and youth communities in Hudson.
Regarding what SURJ calls the DRI Commission, also known as the Local Planning Commission (LCP), the guidelines for creating this commission are determined by the State of New York, the source of the $10 million. Following the guidelines, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton recently submitted the names of twenty-five people who meet the requirements outlined by the DRI guidelines. The people who are on that list do not know they are on the list. Those twenty-five people will be vetted at the state level, and the list will be winnowed down to eight to twelve people who will make up Hudson's Local Planning Commission for the DRI.


  1. IMHO, the best thing that could happen in the struggling 2nd and 4th Wards is more private investment. I doubt that spreading free grant money around is going to do much good. I'm expecting that the $10 million grant is likely to cause squabbling and division. I'm very glad to see that Basil Nooks is applying to open a restaurant on North 3rd, at the location of the former Flying Frog. That is the kind of development that will make a difference.

  2. Private investment is only going to help people in the surrounding community if economic activity includes people from that community, by providing jobs or useful services. You are correct about $10M not being that much money, but if those funds work to drive economic activity that benefits underserved neighborhoods and populations, it might be money well-spent.