Security Thursday night escorted several demonstrators out of a community meeting after they held up banners protesting a proposed new 76er arena bordering Philadelphia’s Chinatown.
A representative of the No Arena Coalition held up signs that questioned whether tax dollars would be used to finance a private arena, expressed fears that gambling would be allowed and conveyed skepticism that the promises of jobs would be kept.
Video taken by the protestors showed at least one sign being confiscated.
“Philadelphians have a lot of questions about who develops our city and what their real interests are, and this meeting was billed as a chance for answers and dialogue,” said Laura Chance, South Philadelphia Democratic committee person, said in a statement sent to AsAmNews. “Instead, 76 Place’s security team removed peaceful and respectful attendees. Escorting people out, confiscating materials, and crushing signs is the embodiment of the developers refusing to answer reasonable questions.”
At one point, team co-owner David Adelman said the protesters could stay and ask questions, the Inquirer reported.
Mary Yee who opposes the arena told NBC10 the arena would eventually squeeze out Chinatown residents.
“There’s going to be economic displacement of the poorest and most vulnerable. Those seniors and elderly, disabled, on fixed incomes that are still living in Center City,” Yee said.
According to NBC10, most of those who attended the meeting supported the arena, including members of the union who would benefit from jobs.
However, the Inquirer quoted one union member who expressed sympathy for the Chinese community.
“How can you protect Chinatown from getting gentrified? We support the arena … but also understand why folks in Chinatown need to be protected from losing their neighborhood.”
“We want to protect the cultural gems of Chinatown and the surrounding communities,” David Gould, the chief diversity officer for the project responded. “We are willing to do our part. We also welcome any policy or legislation in the city … to make sure that everybody benefits from this development.”
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