Tag Archives: protests

Protesters in Jackson Heights confront police


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Dozens of protesters gathered in Jackson Heights on Friday evening to protest Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police on Staten Island and to draw attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants who also fear police abuse.

“And even if we get a [citizenship], will anything change for us?” Fahd Ahmed, the group’s leader, asked more than 50 protesters at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. “No, it won’t, and we can see why when the cops are even killing citizens.”

The protesters, led by the South Asian Organizing Center DRUM, marched in the rain from the Jewish center to the 115th Precinct, using the same chants and tactics to block traffic that have been used in protests taking place across the city since a grand jury cleared a police officer in Garner’s death last week.

No arrests were made, according to police, and the activities ended at 9:30 p.m.

For the Queens protesters, the recent spate of killings by cops reflected their own plight.

“Conversations won’t be enough. We have to take action,” Ahmed said. “ We face being targeted in our country of origin and then we come here and we’re targeted, too.”

As the protesters marched in the middle of Northern Boulevard, they recited callback chants like, “Whose streets? Our streets.” In between shouts, drivers honked their car horns, some in support and others out of frustration that they were blocking traffic.

Cops looked bewildered as they exited the station house to a group of people yelling “killer cops,” along with other chants. The group, now thoroughly soaked by rain, held a moment of silence for the death of Eric Garner, who was killed during an arrest by cops in Staten Island.

“Most of our folks are undocumented and so they’re scared to take to the streets,” Ahmed said. “But we have to fight because if American citizens are getting killed imagine what the authorities are doing to these undocumented people who have even less rights.”

The protest ended on 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue after the protesters formed a circle on the intersection.

“More people need to be mad,” said Ame Hayashi, one of the protesters.

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Anti-John Liu protestors disrupt political forum


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

A group of protestors crashed a political discussion forum in Flushing Tuesday, claiming that one of the candidates, John Liu, was a spy for the Chinese government.

Liu and Paul Gilman are challenging state Sen. Tony Avella for his seat in the state senate. They were invited to discuss issues ranging from immigration to the minimum wage.

Unlike a debate, each person answered questions individually. But as soon as Liu took the stage several people from the large audience stood up from their seats, walked up to Liu and unraveled a sign that said “Arrest john [sic] Liu to Prevent his further Harm to the U.S.”

Liu supporters quickly tore the sign down but the protestors, shouting in Mandarin, prevented the forum from continuing for more then 20 minutes.

Workers from the MinKwon Center,the organization that held the forum ,attempted to remove the protestors by pushing them out, but the anti-Liu group wouldn’t budge.

Eventually cops were called and escorted the protestors from the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing.

“This injustice must be exposed,” protester Guohua Liu said through a translator. “Mr. Liu is not an American; he is with the Chinese government.”

After the protestors left, Liu, the politician, explained that these protestors often follow him around and crash other parties.

The other candidates were not present for the protest.  Each addressed the group separately.

 

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College Point principal resigns after protests and allegations


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The so-called “terror-driven reign” of a College Point principal is over.

Jennifer Jones-Rogers resigned as head of P.S. 29 last week, education officials confirmed, after dozens in the community urged the city to fire her earlier this summer.

“I think that this is a step in the right direction, but it’s not everything,” said Gloria Huachamber, who has a 9-year-old son in the school. “Why did this happen in the first place? As much as I am happy, what happens to all the damage that was done? We need to follow the trail.”

Critics said Jones-Rogers wrongfully placed a handful of students in special education classes without notifying parents and created a “hostile environment” that drove away teachers and caused parents to pull their kids from the elementary school.

“The behavior of Principal Jones-Rogers as described by parents and teachers was simply unacceptable, and it became clear that she had lost control of the school,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

Jones-Rogers quit October 8, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education (DOE) said. 

Jill Leaky-Eisenberg, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience under her belt, replaces her. She was the assistant principal of P.S. 21 in Flushing before the switch, the DOE said.

“I don’t think this was a resigning. I think this was more avoiding the issue. People don’t just leave overnight,” Huachamber said. 

According to the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), Jones-Rogers recently gave birth and is leaving to support her husband’s new job out of New York.

“We’re very happy that her husband got a great, new job out of state and they’re moving,” said CSA spokesperson Chiara Coletti. “I’m sure she’ll continue to work there.”

About two dozen parents and teachers rallied in front of P.S. 29 in August to call on the city to fire Jones-Rogers and start an investigation into apparent mismanagement of funds.

Educators say she did not provide a copy of the school’s budget to the United Federation of Teachers chapter president for the past two years as required and also got rid of the school’s library and computer lab.

The principal’s bullish tactics were also allegedly used on teachers who complained about her, according to many who said they had their desks taken away as punishment.

“Now there’s peace at the school — for now,” Huachamber said.

According to Avella, the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation probed the administrator’s handlings.

Jones-Rogers could not be reached for comment.

A similar rally held last year to remove an unpopular principal at Martin Van Buren High School yielded the same result.

Marilyn Shevell, who was called an “ineffective leader” by members of the PTA and community, retired from the Queens Village school last July after the protest, according to the DOE.

Van Buren has since improved a full letter grade from a “D” to a “C” under new leadership from Sam Sochet, the latest progress report shows.

P.S. 29 scored a “B” on its most recent report. The school received an “A” in 2010 during Jones-Rogers’ first term.

 

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Ground broken at Willets Point


| brennison@queenscourier.com

WilletsPt-20w

After years of planning, protests and public hearings, ground was broken at Willets Point — marking the first physical step in the area’s redevelopment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined at the Thursday, December 1 ground breaking by New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Karen Koslowitz, Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“The development of Willets Point and the benefits that it will provide for the entire city cannot become realities without a multimillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements that have been needed for many years,” said Marshall.  “Expanding the city’s sewer network and increasing storm water drainage in the area will address longstanding issues and put new development on a firm foundation for the future.”

The infrastructure work is estimated to cost $50 million and will include construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. This phase should be completed in 2013.  The construction will mostly occur between October and March, so as not to interfere during the baseball season with Citi Field which sits next door to Willets Point.

Bloomberg called Willets Point “New York City’s next great neighborhood.”

A plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point was announced by Bloomberg in 2007.  Since that time, the city has been able to acquire nearly 90 percent of the land.  Nine private property owners remain in the projects Phase 1 area, according to the city.

The plan for Phase 1 includes up to 680,000 square feet of retail, up to 400 units of housing — 35 percent of which will be affordable — a hotel, two acres of open space and parking.