Thursday, April 14, 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Words / @Norwalk_Ct #gentrification #SouthNorwalk #WarrenPena




It is a tale of two cities. In one city we  have the poor people of South Norwalk. They are African-Americans, they are hispanics (with and without U.S. citizenship) and they are white people, all of which hover around the poverty line, more or less. In this city, opportunity does not pass through the hands of the majority of the people, but rumbles through their streets in fast-paced construction vehicles. In this city, the drug-dealing is out front and center in front of what use to be the heart of the community, the South Norwalk Community Center. Aged men, like Tyrone Campbell, 71, amble by homeless and without a sense of direction. There is no future in store for senior citizens like him. He is not currently productive or desired by anyone, so he just ambles by. He cried to me in a recent conversation and it became hard for me to see his socio-economic state. All I could see was his humanity and want of dignity. I saw my late-maternal grandfather in him. We spoke of the scriptures and of his plight of which I have previously written in a past blog post.

In this city life is being allowed to deteriorate rapidly to pave way for a new city. It is like a living creature which is being neglected and starved to the extent that is fast-becoming a 'blight' to see. The robbing of decency and humanity of the people living in the immediate area of the South Norwalk Community Center, just blocks away from the popular and trendy bar and pub area is on display daily, like a wilting flower that is purposefully being allowed to wither.

In this city there are self-serving 'fat cats' with political aspirations, there are whiffs of the sanctioned murder of a boy and youth who are growing up with little to no hope. 

In another city but in the same geographic zone, the very same zip code, 'progress' rumbles down the streets as construction vehicles and awarded contracts to beautify not South Norwalk, but what is touted as 'SoNo.' Plans for a mega mall next to the highway proclaim jobs for all and new money into the city's treasury. Development companies and city hall administrators who award and sign contracts are happy with this. They claim that new retail-level jobs will help and that new housing will have affordable units for low-income families and individuals. They paint a rosy picture of progress for Norwalk, Connecticut. The bar and pub area has streets and sidewalks that get a great degree of attention. Some of the housing is world-class, complete with shooting water fountains, yoga studios and trendy, yuppie bars with overpriced burgers.

But the truth is under the lacquer and paint. The truth is that the process of gentrification is what is actually rumbling through town. Between these two cities a lie is being sustained. This lie is being upholden by the Mayor of Norwalk, Harry Rilling. There is no talk of empowering people like Tyrone Campbell. There is no action to empower the defunct South Norwalk Community Center or its phony mobster CEO, Warren Pena who has only served himself and no one else.

There are no programs in that center. There are no sports programs for youth. What there is a steady stream of hundreds of thousands of dollars given to Mr. Pena over the last six years and none of it has been invested in the center. The opposite is true instead. He has taken the money for himself and his family members. He is known as a drunk who likes to all everyone that they are 'misinformed.' He likes to divide the blacks from the hispanics and enlists corrupt, self-serving lawyers like Ed Camacho to help him separate the people who are all the same color under the skin.

This center use to be a place of thanksgiving. It use to be a uniting factor for people. It use to be busy in so many helpful ways, but Warren Pena and his City Hall alliances have made it an unholy, imploded fortress of greed for money and bastion of ethnic division.

As a Political Scientist and Special Educator, I recognize no programs or actions to empower the actual people of that neighborhood. What I see instead is a strategy to strangulate what that neighborhood is, what that community center should stand for in order to pave the way for 'redevelopment,' which is a sugar-coated way of saying gentrification and ethnic cleansing.

The plan is an alliance between City Hall and development companies to enrich themselves at the expense of pushing the poor people out. SoNo is getting bigger while South Norwalk is getting smaller.

Is this progress? Mayor Rilling? Are you your 'brothers keeper?'

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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