Organizers with the movement to universally forgive rent during the coronavirus pandemic rallied outside Blackstone Group and Kushner Companies buildings Friday, as part of a campaign to target some of the country’s most prominent real estate investors.
Members of the “cancel rent” movement — which helped orchestrate a wave of rent strikes across the U.S. this month — laid out “body bags” in front of a 53-story, luxury Kushner investment property in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Friday morning. They also held signs that called on the company to stop filing eviction lawsuits against its tenants in New Jersey and Maryland.
“We have worked closely with our residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help in any way we can and, as with all owners in New Jersey,” Peter Febo, chief operation officer at Kushner companies, said in a statement. “Any type of legal action during these unprecedented times is a last resort only utilized in particular circumstances.”
At Blackstone’s headquarters in New York City, activists held banners saying “cancel the rent,” similar to the ones they had draped across the city’s bridges and buildings earlier Friday. Protesters also staged a “die-in” by laying on the pavement outside the company’s office, to represent the tenants they said would perish from evictions or debt. A United Nations advisor claimed last year the private equity firm was contributing to a global affordable housing crisis, which the company disputed.
Blackstone did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment about the protests.