The Brooklyn Nets are on an eight-game, 17-day road trip, and it’s no accident: Barclays Center has welcomed the circus to town, hosting Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey while the Nets travel to Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Denver, Utah, and Cleveland.
The circus coming to town doesn’t just bring a show: it also brings controversy. Two separate protests have occurred at Barclays Center since the circus has come to town: one protesting animal cruelty in the circus, and the second the long-standing protest of Forest City Ratner’s development of Atlantic Yards.
Groups including Animal Defenders International led hundreds of protesters Wednesday night that spoke out against animal cruelty in the circus, according to Park Slope Patch:
The diverse crowd ranged from Animal Defenders International veterans to fathers with their daughters to a group of young ballet dancers—all marching around the Atlantic Avenue promenade calling for an end to alleged animal abuses.
“Hey hey! Ho ho! These whips and chains have got to go,” chanted the young ballet dancers, who were draped in a gigantic, grey plastic chain and wearing brightly colored tutus. They had come with their ballet instructor, parents and a young male friend who had helped to paint signs stating “Circuses are tutu cruel.”
Richard Rollison shouted out animal death statistics as he walked with his 10-year-old daughter Jude, who carried a homemade collage bringing attention to the poor treatmant of elephants by trainers.
“Imagine the terror that a baby elephant feels when taken from his mother and tied in ropes…” began postcards dispensed with the headline “Built to Enslave!”
I’m at Barclays Center at the time of this writing, and standing on a light pole about 30 feet from a Ringling Brothers truck is a 20-foot tall inflatable rat, meant to represent Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner. Near the rat is a banner reading: “SHAME ON Barclays Center Brooklyn and ForestCityRatner FOR HURTING OUR COMMUNITY.” The words “LABOR DISPUTE” are also featured on the banner. (Apologies for the poor quality cell phone pictures. I am not a photographer, I’m just a dude with an iPhone.)
This is not the first time the labor dispute protests have occurred at Barclays Center — Atlantic Yards Report wrote of one on March 6th, pointing to Barclays Center workers that wished to decertify their union and join another, claiming low wages and poor scheduling.
The rat and sign have since been taken down by protestors.
Park Slope Patch — Hundreds Gather at Barclays Center to Protest Ringling Bros. Circus as Animal Cruelty
Atlantic Yards Report — Labor protest at arena: “Shame on Barclays Center and Forest City Ratner”