Brentwood residents and activists briefly blocked access to a truck distribution center Friday with a street protest against a state plan to ship garbage that originated on the East End.
Saying they've had enough of their community being "a dumping ground," about two dozen protesters obstructed the Elm Global distribution facility for about 40 minutes, delaying a handful of trucks and vehicles. During the protest, Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), who was participating, exchanged angry words with stymied truck drivers and managers outside the center.
The protest was organized by the advocacy group New York Communities for Change as part of an ongoing campaign to highlight what it says is discrimination against Brentwood, in light of the illegal dumping of tons of toxic waste in Roberto Clemente Park.
The latest insult, protesters said, is a deal to truck in excess garbage generated in Southold, Southampton and East Hampton to Elm Global, then send it by rail to Kentucky. Residents said the neighborhood would be overwhelmed with foul odors and truck traffic.
"Residents are tired of Brentwood being a dumping ground for Long Island," said Lucas Sanchez, Long Island director for Communities for Change.
"We have been speaking out on this issue for years, and it has fallen on deaf ears," Ramos said. "I think it's significant the residents of Brentwood are willing to participate in civil disobedience to express their outrage."
Ana Martinez, who lives two blocks from Elm Global, said at the protest, "Send it back to the East End. We don't want it here. It's an injustice."Last week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation brokered a temporary deal to move more than 10,000 tons of garbage that has accumulated on the East End.
Protesters blocked Elm Global's main entrance on Emjay Boulevard as truckers and other drivers occasionally honked and stepped out of their idling vehicles. Several protesters also sat or lay on the street, chanting, "No more trucks, no more dumping."
Truck driver Shaun Edwards, of Amityville, said he was hauling an empty shipping container and that he couldn't understand why the protesters were blocking all traffic if they were angry about the garbage. "If I can't get through I'll lose my job," he said.
As the group dispersed, Brentwood activist Nelsena Day lifted a megaphone in the direction of Elm Global and said, "We hope you got the message."Officials from Elm Global and the DEC did not respond to calls for comment Friday.