The “No Arena in Chinatown Solidarity (NACS)” affinity group gathered over the weekend to create a music video to encourage public opposition to the proposed Philadelphia 76ers’ arena plan.
Around 40 community members and supporters of Philadelphia’s Chinatown carried signs and wearable art and danced and sang to a parody of Miley Cyrus’ song “Wrecking Ball” at 10th and Filbert on Sunday afternoon.
At the Vine Street Expressway, community members remembered the #SaveChinatown movement that began about 50 years ago.
Supporters and activists destroyed a paper mache wrecking ball and sang: “You came in with a wrecking ball / Completely disregarding us / But you don’t get to make the calls / All your promises are e-e-empty / And we’re re-e-eady!”
“I’m so moved. People have put in so much heart. The values that people have by standing up with one another — it was so graphic,” NACS organizer Debora Kodish recalled in an interview with NextShark.
The day before the shoot on Sunday, community members and organizations in support of the opposition showed up to rehearse for the music video.
Students also gathered and painted a banner while supporters shared different art builds with one another.
According to Kodish, teachers gathered in an “educational hive” to discuss ways to teach the movement. The group’s postcard hive also gathered thousands of postcards, which they will be bringing to the city hall.
NACS is creating the music video for broadcast during Purim, a Jewish holiday that will take place from March 6 to March 7.
The holiday marks a community arising to save itself and the downfall of a wicked powerbroker, Haman.
“The Purim holiday provides a perfect platform to share widely – and playfully – the message that we can, and must, all stand up for one another and protect this precious place, Philadelphia Chinatown,” Rabbi Linda Holtzman of the Tikkun Olam Chavurah and NACS said in a press release.
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The affinity group, which organizes in support of the Save Chinatown Coalition, began as a Jewish community effort to stand in solidarity with Chinatown and to oppose the development plans of billionaires. With an aim to raise public awareness and activate neighbors, it has since grown to be multiethnic and diverse.
According to Kodish, NACS was initially invited to create a commercial for the Jewish holiday. The group believes that the music video parody provides an opportunity to further discuss and spread awareness of #SaveChinatown.
We want to keep educating people in Jewish communities about what is going on because there’s really so much propaganda from the 76ers’ development corporation side and people don’t understand what is bad about this.
In response to the ongoing backlash, real estate developer David Adelman previously offered to negotiate a community-benefits agreement that would involve business opportunities.
However, activists noted that the arena would negatively impact Chinatown due to gentrification, displacement, traffic and the loss of Chinese culture in the area.
“It will kill Chinatown and we can’t let it,” Kodish told NextShark.
There’s ample documentation of how this same fight has come to so many Chinatowns historically in North America. It’s predatory development that targets communities of color. These guys can say whatever they want, but it’s all propaganda for a land grab. There’s no earthly reason. If they were serious, they would’ve done an impact study. The whole process is wrong. They can say whatever they want, but we know what happens.