Last Thursday an event was held at Port Morris Distillery with The Bronx Brewery, Ruben Diaz Jr, FreshDirect, Marlene Cintron, Executive Director of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation to celebrate the newly formed business partnership between PMD and FreshDirect.
Our borough president began tweeting and even sent out a press release as a victory of sorts in the many attempts his administration has attempted to divide our communities on the issue of FreshDirect coming to The Bronx.
But it didn’t work.
Members of South Bronx Unite, which was founded immediately after a FreshDirect move and sweetheart deal was announced as a done deal without community, gathered quickly to protest against Port Morris Distillery’s new partnership and to boycott the beloved business.
It wasn’t an easy decision to call for an immediate boycott a small business we have all grown to love but within minutes of announcing what had happened, hundreds of people began spreading the word through social media and joined the pledge to not support PMD.
I posted my disillusionment with both small businesses and the vast majority of hundreds of comments were of disappointment and solidarity in joining the boycott. It was shared by many and others joined in including the disappointment because these are business beloved by many.
Even some events that were planned at the space were pulled.
The Bronx Brewery wasn’t immune either. Yesterday’s BX Bike Swap which brought over a hundred people together was to be held at the brewery but was immediately cancelled and moved to Brook Park once it was revealed that they too have been partnering with FreshDirect and selling their beer online.
You see, Ruben Diaz Jr and his administration consistently call South Bronx Unite a small but vocal minority against the dirty deal that would allow FreshDirect to create an environmental disaster in an already overburdened Port Morris and Mott Haven with an extra thousands of truck trips running through the streets.
But Ruben Diaz Jr is a liar not to be trusted for you see, South Bronx Unite is an alliance of over 50 Bronx community and non profit organizations representing all corners of our borough and thousands upon thousands of Bronxite who oppose this deal.
Almost 4 years since the deal was announced and the people of The Bronx are still in litigation against the FreshDirect move which is not a done deal yet regardless of the construction going on.
Within hours of our call to boycott these two Bronx businesses, contact was made with Port Morris Distillery and they agreed to meet with concerned community members the following day including myself.
We met on Friday at Brook Park to give them a chance to explain their decision and they in turn listened to our side and position of why we do this as children played in the garden.
We fight this fight for our children and our community that has been a victim and dumping ground for the city’s unwanted polluting industries for decades creating some of the dirtiest air in the city clearly divided among racial and economic lines.
We are not anti development or anti jobs. South Bronx Unite is pro quality jobs where our residents don’t have to work in poor conditions for up to 12 hours and still qualify for public assistance because companies like FreshDirect do not pay living wages.
Several hours after our meeting with Port Morris Distillery I was contacted by them that they had reached a decision and wanted to meet again.
It was on Saturday that Port Morris Distillery, less than 48 hours after celebrating their new partnership with Ruben Diaz Jr bragging about it across social media, that they came to an agreement to sever that partnership and join the community.
Port Morris Distillery will no longer fulfill any orders with FreshDirect and that is a victory not just for the group and community but a victory for a small business that made a tough decision to end a partnership which could have made their lives easier but it would have been on the backs of the community.
For us, it was a weight lifted from our shoulders for we were being pitted against our brothers and sisters in our own community and borough by an unscrupulous borough president who was and continues to use these businesses not for their benefit but for his own political gain.
Mychal Johnson, a local resident, former Community Board 1 member, and founding member of South Bronx Unite said, Sure. “I’m glad PMD is aligning with the community and not allowing any semblance of division from those with ulterior motives.”
Monxo Lopez, another local resident and founding member of South Bronx Unite added,” The South Bronx, including its local businesses, remains steadfast in its opposition to the proposed FreshDirect relocation; any manipulation by the boro president to make it seem otherwise its doomed to fail in a heartbeat.”
The fact that Ruben Diaz Jr was bragging on social media clearly shows what that he was using them and issuing a press release about it further illustrates that Diaz Jr continues to play dirty and will stop at nothing.
This is a message loud and clear to our borough president: our community stands together and we will not stand idle when you use our people and small businesses for your gain and against us.
When PMD told us they were severing the relationship we immediately took to social media to let folks know about their decision to stand with the people of The Bronx and it was an instant celebration online from folks ecstatic to hear the news.
People immediately began reposting the news and tagging their friends that an outing was in order to Port Morris Distillery to celebrate.
We may not be a small, mediocre online grocer like FreshDirect able to deliver straight to your homes but we are thousands strong and a fiercely loyal community that will protect and make sure our small businesses survive without having to sell themselves to the highest and dirtiest bidder.
Now it’s time for The Bronx Brewery as well as the others who have sided with FreshDirect to listen and see what the community can do united. We still haven’t heard back from The Bronx Brewery after contacting them and tagging them in comments but we do hope they’ll see this as a moment to truly stand by the borough they chose to call home.
For now, please boycott The Bronx Brewery until they stand by our borough not against it.
In the meantime, go celebrate with Port Morris Distillery and drink their pitorro and thank them for doing what’s right.