Fighting Deed Theft, Preserving Legacy

Originally published in Kings County Politics on September 19, 2019.

The meeting held last Saturday at Interfaith Medical Center, about reporting on the deed theft hearing and celebrating the bill that was passed, opened with Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant President emeritus Lynette Lewis Rogers giving the underlying theme of the meeting and the raison d’être of the Brownstoners themselves. “That we have legacy and that their homes remain in their family and we have a legacy to pass on.” 

And State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, co-author of the bill with Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, reiterated that principle as the impetus driving real estate legislation that had been passed in the Spring.

The theft of property in Bedford-Stuyvesant and surrounding communities is about more than taking property.  It is the destruction of the legacies built over the years by people working hard doing the right thing, and trying to pass on what they have to succeeding generations.  

It is a continuation of African-Americans being seen as prey for the wealth-building of others. It is illegal, cowardly and evil.   

The meeting was also an opportunity for the senator to speak of the importance of recognizing that the fighters here did not spring up from the dust. And young people have to know that they are standing on the shoulders of those who have passed and those who remain and whose shoulders still provide support so that current generations can reach up and pull themselves over the walls that still remain.

Montgomery said when the power shifted in the Senate, the defenders of legacy were ready to leap over the walls and make things happen.

The importance of activism at the grassroots level was celebrated by the senator, and it was the information about the everyday events of deed theft, third-party transfers overtaxing and “the city essentially confiscating properties” that the legislators had been hearing from constituents, and “as we got those stories, essentially horror stories, press came forward with a series of articles” and the legislators held the hearing in order to give an official response.

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