In 1999, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had his NYPD attack More Gardens activists, evict them from the dozens of community gardens they built and were defending, and steal the public land for so-called “development” — hi-rise luxury apartments and offices.

The following is the verbatim testimony of Mitchel Cohen, representing the Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, before the City Council of New York on Friday, January 15, 1999, SUPPORTING the Mayor’s plan to privatize Community Gardens. (It took a while for the few City Council reps present to emerge from their stupor. Some never did.)

MY NAME IS MITCHEL COHEN, and I’m a member of the Green Party of New York and the Brooklyn Greens. I appear to be the only one speaking at these hearings today in SUPPORT of the immediate transfer of community gardens to the jurisdiction of HPD so they could be immediately paved over, to improve the quality of life in our city.

We Greens support Mayor Giuliani’s courageous plan to sell off what last week he described as “the Communist Community Gardens” (CCG). The Mayor knows only too well that Karl Marx is buried in a Communist plot.

As our great President Reagan stated so accurately, “Trees cause pollution.” They take up valuable air space that could be used to derive revenue for the City. That is why we Greens support Mayor Giuliani’s plan to place advertising and surveillance cameras on trees, as well as to sell off New York City’s water supply system to the highest bidder.

But, we say, Why stop there? There is far too much green space in New York City already. Look around: The beautiful vast gray asphalt sweep that we all know and love is periodically interrupted by ugly blotches of greenery that could be used for more productive purposes.

With the closing of the Staten Island landfill, there is a desperate need for spaces to dump NYC’s toxic wastes. The land now occupied by gardens could serve that purpose admirably.

They could also be more productively used for parking lots, new Disney stores, and, especially, prisons.

Also, community gardens could be used for small, decentralized nuclear power plants, or garages for the new military tanks the Mayor wishes to purchase for the NYPD.

The Mayor is right. The plan to sell off the gardens and to privatize everything is capitalism at its finest. If you don’t like it, Greens say, “Overgrow the government.”

There is also an obvious need for more security around City Hall itself. Despite being surrounded by newly-installed cement barriers and video cameras, the Mayor’s offices are seriously flawed. Like many others, I was only stopped six times today on the way in to testify at this hearing.

I was made to walk through but two metal detectors and bag searches. (The cup of coffee I was carrying could easily have concealed plastique explosives or tainted blood not detectable by gullible personnel who asked: “What’s in the bag?” and to which I all-too-cleverly replied: “Coffee.”)

Furthermore, I noted many individuals wearing business suits being permitted to walk into City Hall through the main doors! At the very least, all entering the building should be sent around the back, as I and others disguised in our non-corporate attire were directed to do, where a ramp leads to the basement where one can be frisked at Security’s leisure.

Even then, however, security was lacking. I and others were permitted to board an elevator after only 45 minutes — with only two police officers as escorts — to the top of the very stairs the business-suited people had climbed without an escort. How easy for a terrorist or other miscreant to get into City Hall if only they were to disguise themselves in business suits or police uniforms!

I beseech my hero, Mayor Giuliani, to quadruple the police presence and surveillance at City Hall. Perhaps he should consider moving his offices to the bunker he wants to build in the World Trade Center or, better, across to New Jersey from where he can stock the Hudson River with crocodiles laden with up-river PCBs to further limit access.


Mitchel Cohen

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