Tag Archives: Reverend Al Sharpton

Reward for missing autistic teen increased to $75K as search continues two weeks later


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy NYPD

After two weeks since Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving his Long Island City School, the search continues for the lovable autistic teen.

Avonte, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been mixed reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student.  Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier the school “failed her” when they took close to an hour to inform her that Avonte had gone missing.

However, according to reports, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the school safety officer did nothing wrong and investigations show she did what she had to do.

The NYPD has officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers. Recently, the police has been driving around in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers echoing Avonte’s mother’s calls.

Avonte’s family also sought the help from the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a group of volunteers that have helped find numerous missing people throughout the country.

The team said it would be traveling to the site on Friday, October 18 and would “evaluate the situation” to determine if they have resources to help search for Avonte.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, taking claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $75,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Reverend Al Sharpton will hold a community outreach rally on Saturday, October 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Action Network headquarters located at 106 West 145th Street in Manhattan.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

The NYPD has released a new photo of Avonte together with an image of the shirt he was wearing the day he went missing.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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March on Washington remembered on 50th anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jamiah Adams

The NAACP and Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network co-hosted a March on Washington on August 24, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The event, which paid tribute to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the struggle for equal rights, was headlined by speeches from various minority leaders at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The crowd at the event stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the length of the reflecting pool, much like it had a half-century ago. Speakers emphasized that the struggle is not over.

“This is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration, the task is not done, the journey is not complete, we can and we must do more,” said Martin Luther King III, an activist and the eldest of Dr. King’s children. “Sadly the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest and to even murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.”

Archie Spigner, who was the councilmember of District 27 in Queens until 2001, said the event reflects that we still have to fight for an equal world.

As a labor activist 50 years ago, Spigner attended the original March on Washington, but couldn’t make the march this year.

“I think that Martin Luther King (Jr.) was a gifted orator,” Spigner said. “It was a masterful speech. That’s why that speech still holds to day.”

The speeches were made on Saturday, but the true anniversary is on Wednesday, August 28. There will be another March on Washington then as well, highlighted by a speech by President Barack Obama.

 

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Op-Ed: More than a sleep-over, a real eye-opener


| oped@queenscourier.com


GREGORY FLOYD

As president of City Employees, Local 237, nearly 9,000 of my members work in developments operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Their work ranges from apartment repairs to grounds caretakers, boiler and elevator services, to rent collections. About one- third of these workers also live in NYCHA apartments throughout the city.

The problems in public housing have gotten a great deal of attention lately, as the long-standing tenant and worker frustration reached a new high due to sequestration cuts in federal dollars—basically, the only source of funding for the largest and oldest public housing in the nation. The $208 million in cuts would mean a loss of jobs and services.

Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pledge to restore $58 million of federal dollars lost, the fact remains that NYCHA already has a $61 million operating deficit and $6-7 billion in much-needed capital repairs.

This is a case of too little, too late. With a three-year backlog of repairs, security cameras funded but not installed, reminders of Sandy everywhere in affected developments (and still without a plan to overcome the devastation of the next storm) and with a proposal—long kept secret—to build high-end housing on NYCHA property,

I have joined our members and residents to say “Enough is Enough!” We even held a huge rally at City Hall recently to send a strong message to all of the mayoral contenders: “NYCHA is broken. You need to fix it.” All of the candidates were invited to join the protest. Only one showed up—Bill Thompson. Thompson vowed to end the long suffering of the more than 600,000 NYCHA residents if he becomes mayor.

I guess I wasn’t surprised when Thompson invited me to join him and the other mayoral candidates for a “sleep-over” organized by Reverend Al Sharpton at a NYCHA development, Lincoln Houses in East Harlem. The choice of Lincoln Houses was not random. Residents of the aging, 25-building complex are suing NYCHA for 3,800 unfulfilled repair orders dating back to 2009. Thompson knew I had made repeated attempts to address the backlog and other key problems, all of which went unheeded.

So, after the many speeches and the grounds tour covered by dozens of reporters during the night of the sleep-over, Thompson and I met our host, Barbara Gamble, a NYCHA resident for 44 years, 30 of which were in the 10th floor apartment we visited. Without air conditioning on the sweltering night and with mold throughout the bathroom, we could now feel the human pain associated with the repair tickets that dated back so many years. We saw the struggles of Gamble— a proud grandmother who takes matters into her own hands by routinely cleaning the hallways of her entire floor!

When we met with the other candidates the next morning, the talk was about what they saw in their host apartments: ripped-out kitchen cabinets, chipped paint, water damage, faulty toilets, broken flooring and urine in the elevators (which frequently do not work). But, in my view, this was not the worst part of living in a NYCHA development.

No, it was the news that a few days after our visit, a 23-year old woman was shot to death on the project’s grounds in a location where NYCHA failed to install security cameras even though $ 1 million had been allocated by a NYC Councilmember. Despite these conditions, 227,000 people are on a waiting list for a NYCHA apartment because affordable housing in NYC is scarce. With an average of only 5,400 to 5,800 openings annually, the wait can take years.

NYCHA began more than 75 years ago as an experiment in municipal responsibility that developed into a model of social pride. Many former residents, including a NYC mayor, a supreme court justice, and a world-renowned entertainment mogul, have all gone on to make a lasting, positive impact on society.

Yet, as I saw the hardships of Barbara Gamble and her neighbors first-hand, it became clear that what is wrong with public housing today is not only broken buildings, but broken management.

The next mayor, with the ability to appoint a new chairman and form a new board, also has the ability to fix it.

Gregory Floyd is president, Teamsters Local 237, IBT

 

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This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Ex-NAACP big rips Al & Jesse for handling of Trayvon Martin shooting

The furor over the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is being “exploited” by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to “racially divide the country,” a civil-rights leader charged yesterday. Martin’s “family should be outraged at the fact that they’re using this child as the bait to inflame racial passions,” the Rev. C.L. Bryant, a former NAACP leader, said of the 17-year-old hoodie-wearing black youth who was shot dead by a mixed white-Latino neighborhood-watch volunteer. Read More: New York Post

Shooter’s claim to police: Trayvon Martin pounced on me

Trayvon Martin was the real aggressor in his deadly encounter with George Zimmerman — punching the neighborhood-watch volunteer, slamming his head on the sidewalk and grabbing for his gun, according to Zimmerman’s account to detectives. The 28-year-old cop wannabe painted himself as the victim in the fatal brawl, telling investigators he was returning to his SUV and trying to call 911 when the unarmed 17-year-old approached him from behind and threw the first punch, according to published reports. Read More: New York Post

Bell cop duo out — but get to keep pensions

Two veteran cops ousted from the NYPD for their roles in the Sean Bell killing turned in their retirement papers yesterday. Detectives Marc Cooper and Michael Oliver walked into One Police Plaza to sign their paperwork. They left without comment — but with their lucrative pensions still in place. The forced retirements came after an internal NYPD trial determined the detectives acted improperly when they and fellow officers gunned down the unarmed Bell in a 50-bullet fusillade the night before his wedding in 2006. Read More: New York Post

 

Intruders shoot man in UWS apartment

An Upper West Side man was shot yesterday during an attempted robbery in his apartment, cops said. The 20-year-old victim said in a 911 call that he let two men into his building on West 100th Street near Riverside Drive believing they were deliverymen, and they attempted to rob him in his fifth-floor, blasting him in the leg, according to an FDNY spokesperson and police sources. Police are investigating his claims. Read More: New York Post

DOE Releases List Of Schools With PCB Leaks, Critics Want Better Clean-Up Efforts

Hundreds of city schools in the five boroughs are contaminated with PCB, a toxic material that can cause serious health problems, and hundreds more school may also have the substance. Department of Education officials say they are working as hard as it can to fix the problem but critics say it’s not hard enough. NY1′s Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following exclusive report. Read More: NY1

 

State Health Department To Shut Down Queens’ Peninsula Hospital

Peninsula Hospital Center will close for good, following months of efforts to keep the failing hospital in Queens open. The State Department of Health said Monday that Peninsula Hospital officials will be required to submit a closure plan. According to the Queens borough president, up to 1,000 jobs are on the way out. Its closure will leave the 100,000 residents of the Rockaways with only one hospital. Health officials shut down Peninsula’s laboratory last month after it failed an inspection. The hospital in Edgemere was also barred from admitting new patients until issues were resolved. Without revenue from patients, the hospital is unable to run daily operations. Read More: NY1

 

 

Dawa Lama, mom who dumped newborn in trash, pleads guilty to manslaughter

A Queens mom who dumped her newborn daughter in a hospital trash can out of fear her mother would learn of her pregnancy pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge Monday. Dawa Lama, 23, faces 10 years in prison as part of a plea deal worked out with Queens prosecutors. During a court appearance, Queens Supreme Court Justice Lenora Gerald told Lama that she’ll be deported to her native Nepal once she finishes her sentence. Read More: Daily News