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Sunset Parker rallies the nabe with parade of flags

Raising the red flag: Sunset Parker Junior Allende says his banners around the neighborhood’s eponyous park celebrate cultural diversity and call attention to forces that threaten to flood the area with yuppies.
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He’s raising a red flag.

A Sunset Parker has lined the Fifth Avenue entrance of Sunset Park proper with Latin American flags and signs urging locals to unite against the yuppies that threaten to invade the nabe. The installation celebrates Sunset Park’s cultural diversity and aims to rally locals against gentrification, which threatens to displace the neighborhood’s cultural identity, according to the concerned local behind the display.

“Sunset Park is a diverse neighborhood, which is a beautiful thing,” said longtime Sunset Parker Junior Allende. “But I hear people in my community being forced out, and they feel there is nobody speaking up for them. So this stands to unite the Latino community, unite Sunset Park.”

Since mid-April, Allende has put up more than a dozen flags. Banners from a handful of Latin American countries including Venezuela, Mexico, and Argentina wave in the breeze over Fifth Avenue. He adds one or two each week, picking up the flags from various corner stores for about $5 each.

The inspiration struck when the 30-year-old began hearing more and more stories from nervous neighbors afraid of being booted from Sunset Park now that a wave of development is sweeping the area.

“People are afraid,” said Allende, whose parents migrated from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn in the ’70s. “So, I’m basically putting it out there that we have to unite, and stay strong. We can’t give in to people trying to come into our community and buy us out. We have to stick together.”

The ensigns are wired to the chain link fence bordering the thoroughfare, along with signs in English and Spanish proclaiming, “Our community is not for sale” and “Sunset Park unite.”

Perched on a hill, the flags can be spotted from blocks away and have become something of an icon for locals.

“It’s like a symbol of solidarity,” said Sunset Parker Catalina Camilia, who regularly hikes up to the park with her 1-year-old son. “There’s something really comforting — with all the changes going on in the neighborhood — about seeing flags from our different groups together. I like the message.”

And Parks Department workers seem to agree — leaving the installation untouched.

The flags cut through language barriers and serve as a universal symbol for Sunset Park, said Allende.

“You don’t need to speak a certain language to understand a flag,” he said. “They give people hope.”

Allende is slowly making his way through different regions of the world, but started with Latin American since the nabe is dominated by locals with roots in that part of the world.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 12:25 pm, May 5, 2017
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Reader feedback

frank from williamsburg brooklyn says:
I am Brooklyn born and in the 60s we Hispanics and black drove the yuppies if that's what we call them now out of some parts of Brooklyn well history repeats it self there taking it back with the help of our corrupt mayor and the same Hispanic counsel members we Hispanic elect into office if we want to keep our community's and a roof over our heads we need to fight for what we want and never let it be taken maybe we have to bring back the 70s alone we can do so little alot we can do so much
April 28, 2017, 9:05 pm
Jose Allende from Sunset park says:
I agree with everything my son said in the building where i live for more the 28 years now i dont now nowbody everybody was paid to live and now is new apartments and white neibors the not even said good morning or how you doing
April 28, 2017, 10:49 pm
sonia from brooklyn says:
frank is right we have to throw these bunch of empty suits in city counsel out of office and fight and take back our lives and neighbor hoods teach our kid that we can't be treated like deplorables and be push around and kick out of our homes we can't continue for this to happen if we do we will find ourselves living in city shelters remember what happen in L A in the 80s the blacks and whites fight to get what they want and they get it so should the Hispanics life is about chooses some we are. some are what we chose to become
April 29, 2017, 8:27 am
Monica Gordon from Sunset Park says:
I do not understand why the good people of Sunset Park are not willing to welcome newcomers to their neighborhood if they are of a different ethnic background. Your children will grow up in a country with an incredible mixture of people- and you can learn from all of them. The "yuppies" you complain about are just Brooklynites who want a decent home just like you. Jose, have you ever tried saying good morning to your new neighbors. Try it, you are in for a surprise. No one is trying to push you or anyone else out of their homes. Some tolerance is needed here. I am in my 50's born in Brooklyn and the best thing about this borough is the mixture of people. There will always be some nasty folks but the majority are not.
May 1, 2017, 8:28 am
Ariana Lopez from Sunset Park says:
I didn't know my fellow Sunset Park neighbors were so bigoted. I don't have any problem getting to know new people in my neighborhood.
May 1, 2017, 9:15 am
Tony Quiles from Sunset Park says:
To Junior Allende,

It seems by the article that to some " diverse" means only Latino. Aren't others welcome in Sunset Park?
May 1, 2017, 12:09 pm
Allen from Sunset Park says:
It's not that we are "bigoted" or "unwelcoming"- it's that this neighborhood is being GENTRIFIED by privileged white kids from who-cares-where, who have the ability to pay higher prices, that are inadvertently/ignorantly DISPLACING Sunset Parkers.
May 10, 2017, 4:05 pm
Allen from Sunset Park says:
Y'all in the comments are missing the point- which means most likely, you are white. Gentrification IS colonialism. The system and the landlord are taking advantage of the change, hiking up their prices and driving natives out. And then where do we go? We are from here, this is our home.
May 10, 2017, 4:05 pm
Allen from Sunset Park says:
The gentrification of a neighborhood has real social and economic consequences that are mostly negative for the natives. Just read about the displacements from other gentrified neighborhoods in NYC.

Sunset Park is diverse, Chino Latino neighborhood. It's not that we don't want people moving in, it's that we don't want to be pushed out- which is exactly what is going to happen. Gentrification is predictable that way.
May 10, 2017, 4:10 pm

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