City Defies Court Order with Round-the-Clock Weekend Tree Cutting in East River Park

Posted on: December 13th, 2021 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Allie Ryan

This past weekend was one of broken limbs and court orders in East River Park.

The city defied the temporary restraining order to cease resiliency work – mandated by the highest court in New York State in the ongoing community lawsuit – the last three days by arriving early morning to chainsaw the trees.

Activists armed with printouts of the latest court order attempted to halt the big cut-down, which is part of the $1.45 billion coastal resiliency plan. Attempts were futile, though, and at least two were arrested trying to interfere. Those in opposition – who also gathered on the spot for a Saturday press conference – claim that the city’s strategy was to demolish as much as possible before today, when the Court of Appeals is expected to act on the contempt citation East River Park Action attorneys previously sent to Albany.

Captain Luis Barcia, Commanding Officer of the 7th Precinct, was reportedly positioned onsite at 6:30 Saturday morning. Park activist Tommy Loeb said in a press blast that Barcia acknowledged the court order that should stay the work. Yet, according to Loeb, “He has been told by higher ups that he’s supposed to let the construction workers in.”

Photo: East River Park Action

Attorney Kathryn Freed, moreover, alleged that the document the police invoked was “an internal memo” from the Department of Design and Construction.

Meanwhile, dozens of mature trees were felled in the round-the-clock park demolition this weekend. Contractors removed all trees from the dance circle south of Houston Street, while also demolishing the soccer field and basketball courts south of the Williamsburg Bridge.

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