Phone Blast Against Amazon HQ2 in Queens

 

See the event here.

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Liars Don’t Represent Us – Van Bramer: Say NO to Amazon or Resign

On November 9th, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer made a series of Tweets regarding Amazon setting up a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.  On the surface he is trying to position himself as a progressive who is coming out in opposition to Amazon. However, we understand these comments to be political doublespeak – Van Bramer is a mainstream, establishment Democrat who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from real estate.  He claims that he isn’t taking money from real estate anymore, but some of the money raised in previous cycles has transferred over to his Borough President campaign.

We would like to begin by sharing a quote from Van Bramer in full support of Amazon from a Queens Chronicle article published in October of 2017:

“I am excited to see the New York City Economic Development Corporation recognize in their proposal what thousands of New Yorkers have been recognizing for years now: that Long Island City and Western Queens as a whole are among New York City’s most dynamic and innovative neighborhoods,” Van Bramer said in an emailed statement. “I am an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal, and of any plan to bring good paying jobs to my district. I think it is clear that Amazon HQ2 would be an ideal fit for Long Island City and for the entire borough of Queens. I look forward to working with the Economic Development Corporation in the months to come to support Long Island City’s proposal.

Here we will address his recent comments, tweet by tweet:

“Bypassing ULURP isn’t just about trying to get around me, it’s a direct assault on community engagement and consultation on a project that would change the face of Queens. #AmazonHQ2

Right off the bat, Jimmy Van Bramer is calling for a community engagement process.  It is very important for people to understand that this is NOT a statement opposing Amazon.  It is a statement opposing Amazon happening without going through ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process).  For those who don’t know what ULURP is, it is the mandatory public review process that takes place for most land use proposals, such as rezonings or major developments such as this one.

The unpleasant fact about ULURP is that once a plan enters ULURP, its chances of passing become overwhelmingly likely.  A vast majority of proposals that enter ULURP are approved regardless of community opposition. Van Bramer is aware of this fact. If Amazon enters into ULURP, regardless of what the community board says, it has no veto power, which means if the politicians want Amazon, and they are all on record saying they do, then we will get an Amazon.

Public review is being used as a facade by Van Bramer.  It allows him to tacitly support Amazon while pretending to oppose it.

“It’s outrageous, secretive and the height of corporate Democrats tripping over themselves to provide corporate welfare to the richest man in the world without any community review or votes.”

Jimmy Van Bramer is a corporate Democrat.  He has been proclaimed the “Champion of the Long Island City Partnership,” a Business Improvement District organization that touts board members from Bank of America, CitiBank, Jet Blue, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and several other corporate behemoths.  Throughout his career, he has routinely made keynote addresses at real estate conferences, and is on the record praising the development that has taken place thus far in Long Island City.  He mentions community review, but does not oppose Amazon.

“Amazon Cuomo has every right to sell his individual naming rights but we will challenge his ability to sell Queens without review.”

Again, Van Bramer positions himself opposite Governer Cuomo in order to appear the progressive good guy.  However, he admits in plain English here that Cuomo’s attempt to sell Queens is all well and good, as long as it goes through a rigged review process.

“I call on @NYCMayor to reject the @NYGovCuomo’s desire to bypass ULURP, the local Community Board, the Borough President, City Planning and yes, the local Councilmember & @NYCCouncil. The Mayor must not be a party to this undemocratic process.”

Here Van Bramer makes his final call for public review.  As previously explained, ULURP itself is an undemocratic process, and the pro-real estate Mayor, City Council, and Department of City Planning are not going to save us by being included in this proposal.

What we are demanding from Jimmy Van Bramer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and all other Queens politicians, is an unconditional opposition to Amazon.  We cannot fall for the political doublespeak and pseudo-progressivism of the Democratic Party.  If Van Bramer cannot take a genuine stand against Amazon, we call for his resignation.  Liars don’t represent us.

To get involved in the campaign against Amazon, email us at queensantigentrification@gmail.com

 

Queens Popular Assembly – Follow-Up and Next Steps

FOLLOW-UP FROM QUEENS POPULAR ASSEMBLY:

Hello!

This is a follow-up email from the Queens Popular Assembly that took place on October 16th. You’re been added to our announcement list because you either signed our contact sheet or have a personal connection that added you. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!

We are excited to announce that folks are getting together again to put some of the ideas discussed at the last assembly into action, as well as to start planning for a winter assembly.

A few of the ideas that were proposed and voted on include:

1. Starting a neighborhood news publication;
2. Creating an official Queens Popular Assembly Coordinating Committee;
3. Working on a voucher program for folks experiencing homelessness;
4. Creating outreach material in more languages than Spanish and English;
6. Cleaning up Woodside Plaza;
6. Fighting for affordable housing that is tied to income;
7. Reaching out to existing block associations;
8. Have our next assembly in a more quite and accessible location;
9. And several other items related to outreach and language usage.

We currently do not have much dedicated infrastructure setup for public discussion but you can get in touch in the following ways:

1. Email queensassembly@riseup.net
2. Join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/400834433733079/
3. Download the Signal app and request to join the assembly text loop.

Moving forward the Assembly Coordinating Committee will be looking at other ways of helping us coordinate with each other. If you have ideas or suggestions please let folks know!

We will be writing later this month with a date and location for our next assembly.

In solidarity!

– Queens Popular Assembly Announcement List

Popular Assembly / Asamblea Popular – Planned in Queens for 10/16

Queens Popular Assembly / Asamblea Popular

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1495870273891413/

[Español abajo]

Defend Your Neighborhood! The Queens Popular Assembly is a place for neighbors, friends and family members to come together and figure out how to address the issues facing our communities through a participatory and democratic process. Politicians and non-profits have failed to address unemployment, police harassment, and out of control rent. The community boards try sometimes, but, the truth is, they don’t have real decision making power and many of them are often vetted by local council members.

The Queens Popular Assembly, on the other hand, is independent of all that. It is a participatory structure built by the community with the power to affect change in our neighborhood. No big non-profits or politicians – only community members fighting for each other and a better city.

The Queens Popular Assembly aims to be an ongoing project, happening once every season (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer). It will be a place where individual community members and groups come together, form alliances, develop projects, and strengthen ties. The Queens Popular Assembly does not seek to control or direct the activity of those participating. Instead it offers a space for new connections, to hear feedback on projects, and advance our collective goals.

By establishing an ongoing assembly we aim to give ourselves and our neighbors a consistent opportunity to collectively develop project for our neighborhood, show transparency, learn what’s needed to get done, and ultimately build power that is independent of politicians.

We are anti-capitalist, oppose police & ICE, and reject working with politicians within the Assembly. Please reach out if you’d like to get involved.


¡Defiende tu barrio! La Asamblea Popular de Queens es un lugar para que las personas que viven en el barrio, amistades y familiares se reúnan y descubran cómo abordar los problemas que enfrentan nuestras comunidades a través de la participación y la democracia. Los políticos y las organizaciones sin fines de lucro no han resuelto el desempleo, el acoso policial y la renta alta. Las juntas comunitarias lo intentan a veces, pero la verdad es que no tienen el poder real de tomar decisiones y muchas de ellas a menudo son aprobadas por miembros del consejo local.

La Asamblea Popular de Queens, por otro lado, es independiente de los políticos y las instituciones. Es una estructura de participación organizada por la comunidad con el poder suficiente para afectar el cambio en nuestro barrio. No hay grandes organizaciones sin fines de lucro ni políticos, solo personas de la comunidad que luchan para su barrio y por una ciudad más justa.

La Asamblea Popular de Queens pretende ser un proyecto en marcha, que ocurre una vez por temporada (otoño, invierno, primavera, verano). Será un lugar donde las personas de la comunidad y los grupos se reunirán, formarán alianzas, desarrollán proyectos y fortalecerán lazos. La Asamblea Popular de Queens no busca controlar ni dirigir la actividad de las personas que participantes, sino que ofrece un espacio para nuevas conexiones, para escuchar comentarios sobre proyectos y avanzar en nuestros objetivos colectivos.

Al crear una Asamblea nuestro objetivo es ofrecernos a nosotrxs y a nuestra vecindad una oportunidad constante para desarrollar colectivamente un proyecto para nuestro barrio, mostrar transparencia, aprender lo que se necesita para lograr y, finalmente, construir un poder independiente de los políticos.

Somos anti-capitalistas, nos oponemos a la policía y a la migra (ICE), y rechazamos trabajar con políticos dentro de la Asamblea Popular de Queens. Únete y participa necesitamos todas nuestras manos y todas nuestras voces.

Queens Popular Assembly / Asamblea Popular de Queens

David Eisenbach is no different from any other sellout politician.

Earlier today Queens Anti-Gentrification Project posted on Facebook questioning why David Eisenbach thinks he deserves the title of “public advocate”. In it we speak to his narrow and inadequate vision for NYC residents, and question his alleged independence from the current political establishment. You can check out the post and video here. We’ve seen this individual appearing at events over the past year and promoting himself, and want to let people know – this caricature of a politician has been seen before, and we know how the story goes.


To quote our post: “Every election season a fresh round of politicians appear, saying they’ll “take on city hall”, showing up at activist rallies, and making promises they don’t plan on keeping. Every election season a portion of grassroots groups, non profits, and well intentioned individuals give their support to these candidates hoping that they’ll follow through and fight for them once in office. Then, after the votes are cast, and the politicians settle into their new role, the patronage requests start coming in, and the higher-ups who helped get them there in the first place start calling in their debts, a new reality sets in. This is unfortunately how it usually works. In the case of David Eisenbach, however, all signs point to him having already completely sold out, without even being on a ballot. Queens Anti-Gentrification Project wants SBJSA to pass, but Eisenbach will not be its champion – not when he is aligned with Corey Johnson and other special interests. More importantly, however, what the people really need goes far beyond the narrow vision Eisenbach has opportunistically presented: we want reparations for NYCHA residents who have been dealing with health issues due to lead, mold and other environmental issues, an end to Bill de Blasio’s “affordable housing” rezoning program (MIH/ZQA), and an end to NYPD and ICE’s harassment and violence against Black and Brown residents in NYC. On these questions, Eisenbach is either completely silent or woefully inadequate and, therefore, does not deserve the title of “public advocate”.

Listen to Eisenbach in his own words, saying that campaign slogans are just meant for the campaign trail and not really what happens once they get in office. Is this really a guy we can trust?”

David Eisenbach
David Eisenbach on Fox News saying what politicians say on the campaign trail is not what they do when they get in office.

Queens Under Attack

Sunday, August 26th, Queens Anti-Gentrification Project will be hosting an event titled Defend Queens – Now or Never.

The event will include a discussion and update on the multiple mega-developments threatening Western Queens and the rest of the borough. These developments include the LIC Core Rezoning (currently on hold), the LIC Tech Hub, LIC BID, Sunnyside Yard Development, and the BQX.

In a predictable development, a recent article quoted Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, stating her support for the LIC Tech Hub.

Last month, we saw a sign of how bad things are getting when a top politician called for a freeze on new building permits in LIC and, in the same article, confirmed that the LIC Core Rezoning was on hold. These half-measures by politicians, though, are not enough – we need to build power through independent neighborhood-based organizations.

In the wake of the Inwood Rezoning, its clear that the city is never going to listen to the concerns of community members. That’s why we hope to see you this Sunday so we can continue to develop strategy for defeating  these developers and their sell-out politicians.

Defend Queens – Now or Never!

Join Us for Our Summer Party – Sunday August 12th

 

To all of our neighbors – We would like to invite you to join us for a summer Anti-Gentrification party! Let’s grab some drinks and/or food (non-drinkers are welcome!) and talk with neighbors about defending Queens and NYC from luxury real estate and corporate development!

QAGP is not a representative type of organization, or a funded nonprofit. Rather, we are a group of neighbors, fighting for ourselves and for each other, on our own time. We strongly encourage you to attend, chill, and consider joining us. If not, your general support is welcome!

We look forward to seeing y’all.

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/2087522601488224/
WHEN: 4pm-8pm | Sunday, August 12th
WHERE: Copper Kettle | 50-24 Skillman Ave (BACKYARD)

Announcing the First 7 Train Coalition CB2 Neighborhood Committee Public Meeting

On Thursday, May 31st, Queens Anti-Gentrification Project will help host the first  CB2 Neighborhood Committee Public Meeting. You can RSVP to the Facebook event here.

We will be talking about different ongoing campaigns including the fight against a mega church development right in the middle of Little Manila in Woodside (you can read some info about it here), which the BSA, the city agency in charge of this application, recently bought back onto their agenda. We’ll also be talking about the so-called Triple Threat, i.e. the BQX, Sunnyside Yards, and LIC core rezoning. Queens Anti-Gentrification Project has written multiple posts on this, including this letter open letter to Jimmy Van Bramer written last year. One thing we are particularly concerned about is the statements suggesting that Sunnyside Yards development is moving forward. We will also give an update on a series of FOIL requests  on the  BQX, which was filed in collaboration with Progress New York.

During the meeting there will also be time for those who come through to talk about things they’re working on and for us all to figure out how we can support each other.

One of our main goals is to push for neighborhood planning that benefits poor and working class folks, immigrants, and Black people, instead of developers and politicians.

We invite you to come join us, get involved, and fight back against the onslaught of gentrification and displacement that is being directed towards Queens.

See you there!

 

Letter to Heritage of Pride Parade Demanding NYPD Not Participate

The following letter was drafted by a member Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, himself part of the LGBTQ community, then edited and endorsed by the rest of the group. It calls for the group that manages the Heritage of Pride Parade to disallow NYPD from participating in the parade, specifically their gay contingent, Gay Officers Action League New York or GOAL. This parade was formed to celebrate a rebellion against NYPD harassment, discrimination, and profiling and it should not be used to celebrate the police force, which to this day remains unapologetic for its history of abuse directed at the LGBTQ community. Moreover, our experiences with the NYPD and other first responders — with Broken Windows policing, to the systemic harassment of the trans community who are profiled as sex workers and arrested, to the eviction of the 85 Bowery residents, and to cooperation with ICE — shows us that if the NYPD is allowed to march in the Pride Parade, then these injustices will be pink-washed and the survivors of police violence dishonored.

The celebration of NYPD and corporatization of the parade, in general, has become too much: we call on groups and individuals to join us in making this demand, which you can do by emailing queensantigentrification@gmail.com.


21 April 2018

Julian Sanjivan, March Director
Heritage Of Pride, Inc.
154 Christopher St., Suite 1D
New York, New York 10014

The Hon. Corey Johnson, Speaker
The Hon. Daniel Dromm, Councilmember
The Hon. Carlos Menchaca, Councilmember
The Hon. Ritchie Torres, Councilmember
The Hon. Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember
New York City Council
City Hall Park
New York, New York  10007

Re :   Getting NYPD out of the Heritage of Pride Parade

The undersigned groups, listed in order of formation, demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea) and the members of the LGBTQ Caucus, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.

The LGBTQ community, and specifically trans people of color, have historically experienced violence at the hands of the police. There are countless examples of police attacking members of the LGBTQ community. Stonewall, itself, was a response to police harassment. Over the years, countless members of our community have been killed and harassed by the police. To this day, police target poor and working class sex workers in NYC, often members of the LGBTQ community, and prevent them from making a living. For trans people, even carrying a condom can get them arrested. Members of the LGBTQ community, however, are not just victims. They have a long history of fighting back against police harassment in the struggle for liberation. We must look to Sylvia Rivera, who famously urged the community to fight against police oppression. “I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights.”

The LGBTQ community is not alone in this fight. Currently, there is a nationwide movement against police brutality — from the protest movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to Black Lives Matter — people are demanding an end to police violence. Just two weeks ago, a man with mental health issues was gunned down in Crown Heights. Despite the endless procession of police murders, there has been no substantial police reform enacted.

The LGBTQ community contains within itself many other diverse communities. If our demands are to be taken seriously, they must respect those in our community who are the most oppressed. Therefore, the LGBTQ community must stand in solidarity with the nation-wide movement against police brutality taking place.

Two years ago, Black Lives Matter activists largely won reforms in the Pride Parade in Toronto, Canada, where police were not allowed to march in their uniforms or in their patrol cars. This was two years ago, and New York City, which used to be on the vanguard of activism, has been unable to produce any reform in its Pride Parade. It’s time for us to get the NYPD out of participating in the Heritage of Pride Parade. We cannot allow their violent history to be pink-washed by letting them participate in this parade.

These are some of the reasons we demand that the NYPD not be allowed to participate in the Heritage of Pride Parade :

Furthermore, many in the LGBTQ community have reason to fear the police.

Half of transgender people report feeling uncomfortable seeking police assistance. More than 1/5th (22%) who have interacted with police reported police violence, and 6% of transgender individuals reported they have experience bias-motivated by police officers. Black transgender people reported must higher rates of biased harassment and assault (38% and 15%)…

Transgender people who have done sex work or participated in underground economies often report elevated levels of police violence—this includes 16% of all trans people, 34% of Latino/a trans people, and 53% of Black trans people.

Source : Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

For the foregoing reasons, we demand that the Heritage of Pride organisers and prominent LGBTQ elected officials, chiefly City Council Speaker Johnson, disallow NYPD officers from participating in the 2018 Heritage of Pride Parade.

Signed,

Queens Anti-Gentrification Project
Brooke Cerda Guzman
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Alan Bounville
Michael Petrelis
Black and Pink NYC
Code Pink
Queer Palestinian Empowerment Network

PRESS RELEASE (4-10-18): GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Forest, 
queensantigentrification@gmail.com

GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE  LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED

New York, NY (Apr. 10, 2018) – On March 28, 2018, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, in collaboration with the news Web site Progress New York, filed a series of open records requests as part of an investigative effort to examine the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or BQX. A total of nine (9) open records requests have been filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Highlights include:

  1. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Buildings construction records submitted by developers along the route of the BQX. The purpose of this FOIL request is to ascertain whether developers positioned to profit from this public works project have been properly reporting rent-regulated apartments.
  2. FOIA request seeking U.S. Department of Justice records from the ‘pay to play’ Federal corruption probe against the de Blasio administration specifically related to the BQX.
  3. FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Environmental Protection records, demonstrating the extent to which the City is aware of the relationship between large construction projects and increased lead levels in tap water.
  4. Financial feasibility studies related to the BQX used as the basis of controversial memo in which the City admitted the BQX was not financially feasible, submitted to the Office of the Mayor.

A full list of the FOIA/FOIL requests filed can be found here: https://progressnewyork.news/research-data/

The open records requests were filed two weeks before Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was put on the defensive about media reports that again questioned the financial feasibility of the BQX project.

FOIL Request Constructively Denied

After filing one of the FOIL Requests, the one requesting BQX feasibility studies from the Office of the Mayor, we were informed that the Office of the Mayor would require one (1) year before a determination would be made about the release of records. Progress New York obtained guidance from the Committee on Open Government based in Albany, and the guidance provided indicates that if an Agency subject to FOIL refuses to grant access to records beyond 20 business days, that refusal can be treated or interpreted as a denial of records that can be appealed. Progress New York will be appealing this constructive denial.

The deliberate withholding of records by the Office of the Mayor comes as Mayor de Blasio has admitted that the City of New York will be unable to pay for the BQX project using a controversial value capture tax system that will benefit some participants in the real estate industry, who own or plan to develop real property along the proposed route of the BQX project.

Appeal for Legal Assistance

Progress New York seeks pro bono legal assistance in preparation, if necessary, to litigate the denial of records. If any lawyer or legal group can provide pro bono legal support, please contact: contact@progressnewyork.new
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