On Thursday, February 28, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective in the South Bronx (RDACBX), a Hip-Hop community center for youth outreach, was raided, evicted, and virtually destroyed by NYPD officers and US Marshalls.
“The violent actions taken yesterday are an attack on young people, artists, and Hip Hop culture,” stated RodStarz, member of the Hip-Hop group Rebel Diaz and co-founder of RDACBX. “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.”
The eviction comes after developer Marc Pagostin of Austin Property Corp. expressed objection to graffiti murals that had been placed on the outside of the building and attempted to raise the rent on RCACBX from $1,400 to $2,400. Suspecting the increase was fueled by discrimination and meant to rid the building of the center and further gentrify the neighborhood, RDACBX and other community members rallied to raise awareness and gain support for their cause. After six months of attempting to negotiate a reasonable solution that would allow the space to stay open, local police and feds were sent in to send a message.
Immediately upon their entry into RDACBX law enforcement displayed aggressive and vindictive behavior. DJ Illanoiz, a member of Rebel Diaz, was the only person at the center at the time and was greeted with shouts of “you have 5 minutes to get the fuck out!” before law enforcement quickly took artwork, supplies, sound equipment, and furniture and through it in the trash. Many have described the raid as violent revenge from cops who simply don’t like Rebel Diaz and their work. “They came in with armed officers into what is supposed to be a safe space for the community,” said Karen Louvier, a RDACBX member.
As followers of Rebel Diaz know, their revolutionary messages and methods have not been appreciated by the police. In 2008, while CopWatching the harassment of street vendors in the Bronx, RodStarz and fellow member of the Hip-Hop trio, G1, were brutalized and arrested. Days later plain clothes officers burst into the apartment of G1, pointing guns at him and his roommates and demanding to know their identities. “The questions as to why several armed police officers mysteriously and violently invaded my home without any clear legal justification remain unanswered,” stated G1. “One is left only to think that the occurrences of this morning are not a coincidence of mistaken identity, but a direct response by the NYPD to an incident of police brutality I was involved in last week in the South Bronx.” Since then local and federal agencies have surely been keeping an eye on the group’s activities involving police brutality, social justice, economic equality, immigration, and the ‘Occupy’ movement.
At a time when budget cut-backs are having the largest impact on our youth, communities of color, and the poor, places like RDACBX should be encouraged, allowed to grow, and spread all over the country. Instead, as we have seen at South Central Farms and numerous other occupations, the money of one property owner will always be given priority over the needs and desires of the masses. Remember that just because you see and hear Hip-Hop music and culture all over TV, in magazines, the internet, and radio, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be shut down in a moment’s notice when it poses a threat to dominating power structures. When Hip-Hop promotes capitalism, sexism, materialism, ignorance, and glorifies violence it is allowed into the mainstream to sell products and keep a new generation distracted and uninformed, but when Hip-Hop is used to bring awareness, unify the poor, and empower the masses to fight back it gets torn down, thrown in the trash and told it has 5 minutes to get the fuck out.
Despite this latest blow from the oppressive state and its goons, Rebel Diaz and volunteers at the center have vowed to continue their work in the South Bronx and around the country. The day following the eviction over a hundred community members attended a rally to support RDACBX where RodStarz summed up the situation very well: “RDACBX was a space that young people came to for after-school programming, workshops and summer youth employment, in a borough where the most common after-school activity for young people is being stopped and frisked!”
For more info, visit http://rdacbx.org
In Spring of 2012 RHHR featured an interview done by some of our comrades in Sacramento (see full interview at (https://rhhr.org/2012/02/25/rebel-diaz-music-for-the-99/) where they were asked about their, then, newly-opened space.