Edge of Sports Radio Interview: Daniel Goldstein and the Battle for Brooklyn

Battle for Brooklyn is a recent documentary that reveals the struggle faced by a community within the city of Brooklyn to fight real estate developers who want to build a multi-million dollar basketball arena, as well as other buildings, including large parking lots and 16 skyscrapers to be used as apartments. Daniel Goldstein, a resident of the community, was the only member of his apartment complex who refused to take a buyout from the developers of the Atlantic Yards Project as it is known. The dramatic narrative follows him through the tribulations faced to stand up to the corporations and stadium boondoggles using a professional sports franchise to obtain land grants through eminent domain.

Goldstein, a graduate of Colgate University with a degree in Peace Studies and English, and a strong dissenter to the destruction of part of Brooklyn for the purpose of a new arena, recently talked with Dave Zirin of Edge of Sports Radio on the PPI network about the film and the effects of the new arena on the city.

The documentary was first debuted many months ago, but the Occupy Wall Street movement cast the film into a brighter light, resurrecting its public acknowledgement. Goldstein describes the documentary as a “film of the Occupy movement…at the core of the Occupy movement.” New Yorkers were promised affordable housing and many jobs, but all they really saw was the destruction of their homes and neighborhood.

Bruce Ratner, now minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, after selling majority ownership to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, began formulating plans to move his NBA franchise with the construction of a new arena nearly a decade ago. The NBA squad will become the Brooklyn Nets next season following completion of the new basketball forum which is expected this fall.

“The idea that Brooklyn needs a basketball team, needs this arena to feel good about itself, is laughable. There is no more recognizable brand, in perhaps the world, than Brooklyn,” asserts Goldstein. “I don’t see much positive coming out of the arena for Brooklyn,” believing there will be a net positive for the developer, but a loss for the city. “Anyone who goes to the arena needs to know how it came to fruition.”

Battle for Brooklyn is not only a film for the approximately 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn to see. It profiles the struggles of class, politics, and ultimate power that are faced by citizens in many cities across the nation in response to overpowering land developers in pursuit of grants for major projects, issues that all should be aware of. “Audiences love the film, as do almost all critics,” says Goldstein, which is evidenced with the shortlisting of the film for the Academy Awards in the category of Best Documentary. In the process of his story unfolding, Daniel Goldstein began Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), a broad-based community coalition advocating for development that will unite communities instead of dividing and destroying them. Although the real estate developers won this round and the Nets will soon call Brooklyn home, protesters will continue to make their voices heard for what they believe is right.

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