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The NYPD has long had it out for the self-described revolutionary hip-hop crew Rebel Diaz. Back in 2008, the rapper/activist duo reportedly received a “beat down” from the boys in blue after they stopped to monitor and engage with officers who they said were harassing a Bronx street vendor. Not long after that, NYPD officers raided the home of Rebel Diaz member Gonzalo Venegas, who goes by G1. Venegas says the officers busted down his door and ransacked his apartment, all without a warrant or any clue as to why they had come. It smelled like revenge.
Four years later, the NYPD was back to mess with Rebel Diaz — but this time they brought the feds with them, and took aim not only at the artists themselves, but at the community center they’d worked years to build in the South Bronx, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective.
A press release put out by the collective describes what happened:
After a violent daytime raid yesterday, Thursday, February 28, 2013, on the warehouse turned arts space at 478 Austin Place in the Bronx, members of Hip-Hop community center RDACBX are denouncing their forced eviction at a rally to be held at 6pm today in front of their locked out building.
The building landowner, local commercial developer Marc Pogostin of Austin Property Corp., had for months stalled negotiations on a new agreement with the RDACBX after the group’s original lease expired this past November. Despite diverse support for RDACBX from local politicians, churches, and community organizations in the area, Austin Property Corp. eventually refused to renew the lease, citing concerns about the group’s political murals, and prompting the surprise eviction yesterday.
“The violent actions taken yesterday are an attack on young people, artists, and Hip Hop culture,” says RDACBX co-founder RodStarz. “In a time where budget cuts, stop and frisk, and gentrification are affecting our communities, it’s a shame we are being treated like criminals. There is no justification for this eviction.”
Karen Louviere, 19, a past participant in RDACBX youth programs, expressed her disappointment at the violent shutdown of the space. “They came in with armed officers into what is supposed to be a safe space for the community. A space that has served as an alternative for young people in the area, helping develop their talents in a positive way.”
The internationally renowned RDACBX, host to weekly cultural performances and educational workshops, had recently announced plans for the creation of the Richie Perez Radical Library, as well as the continuation of their widely recognized Boogie Mics open mic series, and the SxSBX Hip-Hop Festival.
“Despite the violent removal of RDACBX from its space, RDACBX will continue to work on its development, as it strives to be a resource for the community. There is a need for this organization to exist in The South Bronx,” says Claudia De La Cruz, a member of the collective.
The activists are hosting a press conference today; details below.
What: Press Conference/ Rally to Defend RDACBX
When: Friday, March 1st, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: 478 Austin Place, Bronx NY 10455