The No Arena in Chinatown Solidarity (NACS) group has launched a “No More Wrecking Balls” music video to encourage public opposition to the proposed Philadelphia 76ers’ arena plan.
NACS dropped the community-produced parody music video on Wednesday, which features around 40 community members and supporters of Philadelphia’s Chinatown carrying signs while dancing and singing to the tune of Miley Cyrus’ 2013 hit song “Wrecking Ball.”
In the video, community members and activists can be seen wearing prop art of wrecking balls and Chinatown arches while singing: “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!”
Jonathan Leibovic, an NACS member and musician who wrote the parody’s lyrics, hopes the song will help listeners understand why many families and businesses in Chinatown oppose the arena.
“The lyrics also commemorate Chinatown’s rich history of organizing and resistance to gentrification and displacement,” Leibovic said in a press release. “Chinatown has fought and won these kinds of fights before.”
The music video features archival footage of historic protests in the neighborhood, such as when the community successfully stopped a baseball stadium and casino from being built. It dramatizes public opposition to the proposed $1.3 billion arena at the nearby Philadelphia Fashion District at 10th and Market Streets.
In a press release, Said Sheldon Davids, a former UC Townhome resident who is helping to organize opposition to the proposed arena, called the music video a “message” of resistance.
We are proclaiming solidarity in our opposition to gentrification and displacement in Philly. We don’t want people displaced. The Chinatown campaign is another group of bricks in the wall of resistance that we feel is necessary to stop the tide of displacement and continued disenfranchisement of vulnerable people of our city.
NACS organizer Debora Kodish tells NextShark that opposition to the arena has been growing.
More and more people are realizing that we all have a right and responsibility to stop this arena. The video is an example of amazing people coming forward. The opposition is growing! People are really angry at this kind of bullying, developers making all kinds of promises, no real serious attention to what people are saying and bulldozing communities of color. Opposition is more and more visible — and that is part of the job (and evidence) of this video.
The proposal, which was announced in July last year, has since been met with fierce criticism from the Chinatown community, citing concerns of gentrification, displacement, parking and traffic congestion and the deterioration of Chinatown culture.
The opposition has since garnered allies across the city, such as from POWER Interfaith, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Students for the Preservation of Chinatown and the dozens of members of Restaurant Industry for Chinatown’s Existence.
According to Kodish, the developers have shifted their timeline for approvals to the fall.
However, there has been no sign of relenting. Earlier this month, the Sixers released a statement in response to the multiple protests.
As we continue to develop a meaningful plan to ensure the arena project can positively impact Philadelphia and its residents, it is disappointing to see some groups claiming to represent the broader interests of the city irresponsibly spreading misinformation about our proposed plans.
While they noted that the arena will not be built directly in Chinatown, many activists and Chinatown residents have since voiced concerns that the arena would still negatively impact the community by being nearby.
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. 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.