The “Push Back Picnic” presented by Union Square Not For Sale/Community Improvement District(CID) occurred at Union Square Park yesterday and contained a bit of a surprise for restauranteur and Union Square Partnership co-chair Danny Meyer. Union Square Partnership is the local BID(business improvement district) and has tremendous influence over what goes on at Union Square Park. It is their plan that aspires to place a private restaurant in the historic Pavilion at Union Square.
The picnic began on the lawn at Union Square near the Abraham Lincoln statue on the northern end. There was preaching by Reverend Billy, singing by Community Improvement District/”Church of Stop Shopping” choir, petition signing (to stop the building of a restaurant in the historic Pavilion and further privatization of the Park) and watermelon!
Then, a large contingent, including a marching band, carrying trees marched through the Park and along 16th Street until they came to Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe. Reverend Billy, Savitri D. and others sauntered in bringing with them the trees to the surprise of stunned diners and restaurant staff. Their message: “Union Square, Not For Sale.” The Park is pushing back.
Not surprisingly (although they were in there for a pret-ty long time), they were then asked to leave by management and also undercover policemen who came in to the restaurant from the street. After having delivered the message, Reverend Billy laid sod and trees down on the sidewalk outside the front restaurant window and put Danny Meyer on notice:
The BID has had enough influence on the Park; the community is pushing back and reclaiming our public spaces. A large sign appeared in front of the Cafe: “Union Square Community Pushes Back.” There was chanting. “Union Square. Not for Sale.” The lively group then marched and chanted its way along 16th Street back to the Park.
Really not enough of this type action goes on in our city right now. Diners seated outside at the Blue Water Grill and the Coffee Shop, both on the corners of Union Square West, watched in awe, took pictures, some chanted along.