Cancel Rent protest outside New York's Civil Court in Brooklyn. Photo: Aaron Costa @aaroncino
Cancel Rent protest outside New York's Civil Court in Brooklyn. Photo: Aaron Costa @aaroncino

Despite an extension to New York’s eviction moratorium, dozens of protestors occupied a Downtown Brooklyn lawyers office and gathered outside New York’s Civil Court to demand a cancellation of rent due to hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order extending the moratorium for an extra 30 days. The order, which would extend the ban on evictions until September 4, is being reviewed by the Office of Court Administration.

At Thursday’s daily briefing, Cuomo said there would be no evictions as long as the city was in the middle of a pandemic. “I had done that right away by executive order. I then extended it by executive order. We then wrote it into the law. I signed the law, and the law is clear. Until when? Until I say COVID is over. And you know, well figure out when that is.”

Cancel Rent protest outside New York’s Civil Court in Brooklyn. Photo: Aaron Costa @aaroncino

But for many New Yorkers, extending the eviction ban isn’t enough. Dozens of protestors gathered outside the Civil Court of New York City in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday for the third day of action demanding a rent cancellation. Protestors barricaded the courthouse by linking arms and filled the reception area of an eviction lawyers office.

Protestor Aaron Costa told the BK Reader protesters, tenant unions and housing justice groups were ready to stand for the most vulnerable in the community.

Cancel Rent protest outside New York’s Civil Court in Brooklyn. Photo: Aaron Costa @aaroncino

“The 14,000 who are already in line to have evictions mailed, and the 400,000-plus more who are currently at risk. We expect pushback from the city and we’re ready to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” Costa said.

“We’ll continue showing up until Cuomo and Kavanagh do the ethical thing and extend the eviction moratorium, and cancel rent, with full rent forgiveness, until the pandemic is resolved and our fellow citizens can begin to put their lives back together.”

Costa said the lawyers office occupied by protestors, Balsamo Rosenblatt & Hall, was known for representing landlords attempting to evict tenants in the middle of the pandemic.

Balsamo Rosenblatt & Hall Managing Partner Robert Rosenblatt said the protest had not been a peaceful one, but he would not press any charges.

“The protesters barged in and looted  from my office. They stole my notary and other stamps, they stole postage stamps, they used permanent marker and wrote all over the walls and desks,” Rosenblatt told BK Reader, adding water was spilled on his documents.

“It’s unfortunate they did not know that 50 percent of my clients are tenants and we prevent people from becoming homeless,” he said. “In fact I would venture to say that no other private law firm represents more tenants in Brooklyn that we do.”

 “I wish they knew that before they trespassed And looted from my office,” Rosenblatt added.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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