Co-directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley discuss eminent domain abuse and political perceptions of their film, Battle for Brooklyn. They insist their film is not a polemic, but rather an all-too-common story of a single person fighting an injustice against figures whose power and influence drawf his own.
Battle for Brooklyn, a documentary about one man’s fight to stop a private developer from using eminent domain to take his home, recently opened in select theaters in New York City after a successful film-festival run.
In 2003, billionaire real estate developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner decided to move the team to Brooklyn, with the intention of building an arena, an affordable housing project, and bringing desperately needed jobs to the borough of Brooklyn.
Ratner’s friend and fellow billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, enthusiastically put the weight of top-down government planning behind the project. That included using the city government’s extensive powers of eminent domain, despite the fact eminent domain is supposed to be used only in cases where development is for public uses such as schools and roads. And despite the fact that the construction of what became known as the “Atlantic Yards” project would displace many thriving businesses and homes.
Graphic designer Daniel Goldstein fought for nearly seven years to keep his home out of the hands of Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner. Goldstein’s quixotic struggle is the centerpiece of the film. Here’s the trailer:
Story of Occupy Wall Street protestors runs parallel to ‘Battle for Brooklyn’ documentary
By Michael O’Keeffe. NY Daily News
The pundits who continue to say they don’t understand what the protesters behind Occupy Wall Street want should look at “Battle for Brooklyn,” the award-winning documentary about the Atlantic Yards that was released this summer.
The film was released before the Wall Street protests began, but the story it tells is a strong summary of the crony capitalism that sparked the OWS movement.
Public assets, according to the film, were given away to the wealthy and connected. Eminent domain was used, and abused, to benefit corporate interests. Fawning elected officials — Bloomberg, Schumer, Markowitz, take your pick — parroted the developer’s dubious claims of jobs and affordable housing. Millions of dollars in subsidies were provided for a project that bypassed local review. Competing proposals, which may have been more beneficial to taxpayers and the surrounding community, were ignored or dismissed… Continue reading