|On This Day in 1968, Jane Jacobs arrested battling "LOMEX"|
|Sunday, 10 April 2011 11:33|
The iconic community activist was arrested at Seward Park High School on April 10, 1968 during a tense protest opposing a Robert Moses plan to build a Lower Manhattan Expressway.
On the evening of April 10, about 500 people crammed into the high school auditorium to voice their opinion on the proposed initiative to link Brooklyn with New Jersey -- by constructing a major highway system through Lower Manhattan.
Over one hundred people were scheduled to speak at the public hearing, including chief engineer of the State Department of Transportation John Toth, who introduced an updated re-design that was supposed to take the community's concerns into consideration. However a majority of the crowd was opposed to any plan that would uproot hundreds of families, destroy some of New York City's oldest and most treasured buildings, and turn Lower Manhattan into an industrial zone.
The evening's proceedings were beset by several interruptions by protesters who chanted, shouted and stomped their feet at any sign of support for the project. After about two hours, Jane Jacobs (pictured, right) took the platform and riled up the crowd by declaring that the hearing was a fraud -- claiming the Lower Manhattan Expressway was going to be erected as planned, regardless of the evening's outcome. That is when her supporters rushed the stage, secured the stenographer's transcripts of the previous two hours, and tore it into pieces.
Jacobs was taken to the Clinton Street police station at about 10:00pm and charged with disorderly conduct. As a May 6, 1968 New York Magazine points out, "Of course Jane Jacobs was disorderly -- that's her job..."
A week later, her charges were raised to second degree rioting, inciting a riot and criminal mischief.
Of course in the long run, Jacobs won the war -- the LOMEX was never built.
Read more about the LOMAX plan at nycroads.com
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