Norman Oder has a must read article on Umar Jordan's transformation from vehement Atlantic Yards supporter to community and youth advocate who won't step foot in the arena and stating, "They played Brooklyn, they played all of us":
"They played Brooklyn": Bed-Stuy's Umar Jordan, whose dramatic testimony boosted Atlantic Yards in August 2006, now says he's disgusted
For one intense day in August 2006, Umar Jordan, a streetwise black man from the 'hood--an ex-con turned handyman, youth worker, and community organizer--was as eloquent an exponent for Atlantic Yards as anyone, baiting opponents whom he claimed didn't care about the real Brooklyn.
Atlantic Yards Report
"If you haven't been to Brownsville or East New York, Flatbush, you not from Brooklyn," Jordan pronounced at a charged public hearing, "you just visiting." The room, hot and crowded with more than 800 people, erupted in roars.
Jordan was a bit of a mystery guest: he had not previously spoken up in the Atlantic Yards debate and soon vanished from it.
Still, his bravura performance was such that, three months later, in a New York Times article, Perspectives on the Atlantic Yards Development Through the Prism of Race, Jordan's speech provided the lead anecdote, albeit with no more information about him.
Today, however, Jordan is bitter and angry about Atlantic Yards, seeing little impact on those "real" Brooklyn communities he knows, with few of the many promised benefits delivered. He's a huge basketball fan, but Jordan says he'll never attend a Brooklyn Nets game.
"We weren't fighting for a stadium, we were fighting for young men in this [housing] project, and other projects... to have an opportunity to get a job, or at least go through an apprenticeship program to train them for jobs," he states, interviewed recently at the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "We were so deceived by the powers that be it was ridiculous."
"They played Brooklyn, they played all of us," Jordan declares, with characteristic certainty. "We just got shook. Game over. We got played. The whole of Brooklyn got played."
Jordan, it might be argued, got played somewhat himself and might be experiencing some sour grapes. But he doesn't see it that way. And the story he tells illuminates just how "community" support got promoted.
We feel for Mr. Jordan and take no solace in saying we told you so. We really don't. Though we wouldn't mind an apology for the caricature he made of project opponents for simply standing up for their beliefs.
We'd love for Mr. Jordan to join us at the upcoming AYCrimeScene events next week centered around the arena opening.