NYC Artists Fast & Speakout for Charas Center 9-29 to 10-5 FWD!

Tom Boland (
Fri, 1 Oct 1999 19:17:48 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CC Replies To: "Peter Cramer" <>

We urge you attend our press conference tomorrow,Wednesday,Sept. 29 at
12:00 noon on the steps of City Hall to help kickoff the Fast For Charas
The following press info details the event.
Each night 6-8 PM during the week of the Fast there will be nightly
gatherings at Charas addressing a variety of issues affecting the community

Saturday Night is ARTIST SPEAKOUT and all are urged to speak, play music,
recite a poem, dance etc. Get involved and please contact me (212.529.8815)
if you will join us. Thanks and apologies for any double postings.

Peter Cramer
Committee of Lower East Siders
Fasting for Charas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           CONTACT: 212- 713-5743

Lower East Siders to be joined by Assemblyman Steve Sanders
in going without food
to protest destruction of CHARAS community center

There will be a press conference on September 29th, 1999  at 12 Noon on the
steps of City Hall to announce a one week "Community Fast" by members of
the Lower East Side Community who will be joined in fasting by State
Assemblymember Steven Sanders in protest of the auction by the Giuliani
administration, of Charas/El Bohio, a 20 year old Community Center. The
fasters, who will wear t-shirts with the logo "Fasting For Charas", will be
also joined by City Councilmember Margarita Lopez,  and newly re-elected
District Leader Rosaura Mendez.

After the conference at 2:30 PM fasters and their supporters will make an
appearance at the office of developer Gregg Singer at 81st Street and
Amsterdam Avenue.  Singer is seeking possession of the Community Center.

At 4:30 PM Fasters will appear on the steps of Charas 605 East 9th Street
(at Avenue B), joined by their neighbors to dedicate the fast.

Every evening of the fast from September 29th - October 5th  6-8pm the
Charas  community will gather on its steps to support the fasters, and get
updates on Charas news and other community issues. There will also be
updates on community issues such as community gardens, housing and police
brutality (see below). There will also be performance, music, and photo

This Community Fast is inspired by the hunger strikes of figures like
Gandhi, Dick Gregory, and Armando Perez, a founder of Charas who was
murdered last year. Perez' stated intent was to fast to the death if Charas
were threatened with destruction.


12:00 noon
Press Conference
City Hall Steps

2:30 - 3:30 P.M   Picket/Vigil - Developer
Gregg Singer's office.

4:30 P.M.
Communal Gathering
Steps of Charas

6:00 - 8:00 P.M. at Charas
Wednesday     Charas Update
Thursday       Community Gardens Update
Friday           Tenants Rights/ Homelessness
Saturday        Community Artists Update
Sunday          Civil Liberties
Monday         Fair Wages/Labor
Tuesday         Fast Ceremony/Charas Update

Background Information

Last year the Giuliani administration ignored a viable financial plan to
sell the building to Charas founders. Instead Charas was auctioned off to
private developer Gregg Singer last July, despite overwhelming protest on
the part of the community. Since then there have been over 100 protests and
a number of court battles, two of which are currently in progress. Carlos
Gonzales, a Charas  volunteer and a Community Board #3 member  contends
that an early, unfavorable Federal Court decision was made by a judge who
stated during the proceeding that he was a personal friend of Giuliani's.
"This is the same judge that swore him into office".  Further,  he says  "A
letter we received from HUD (Housing and Urban Development, a Federal
agency) states their contention that the sale is illegal; that before such
a sale can be transacted there must be input by the people mostly affected
- input which never took place."

Charas Director and co-founder Chino Garcia maintains  "The auction book
clearly specified that the building's availability be contingent on
community use. Gregg Singer has refused to specify to what community
purpose, if any, the site would be put, under his ownership.  Also, the
city has delayed in presenting verifiable documentation of final payments
Singer has delivered if any,  into city coffers to buy the building."

Charas was founded in the 70's by Chino Garcia and Armando Perez, who
turned the abandoned school from a drug den into a center of the then
emerging Latino culture of the Lower East Side. Today it provides rehearsal
space for groups like The Living Theater and Overfoot Dance Company and
individual artist studios at extraordinarily low cost, and provides access
for public meetings and conferences,  and social services like Recycle a
Bicycle, the AA group Living Now, the More Gardens! coalition, and many
others that serve the multi cultural community of the Lower East Side.

"Charas is the soul of our community" said community member and guiding
spirit of the fast, Fran Luck.  " It serves children, it serves local
artists and theater groups. This is the place you go to have a community
meeting on any issue. We can't let the mayor destroy our community so that
one of his campaign contributors can obtain a piece of real estate."

Armando Perez, one of the founders of Charas was murdered in April of this
year. The deed to the building representing his life's work was transferred
while the Lower East Side community still grieved his loss -- as it
continues to do today.