March 19


Judge Dismisses Floyd Bennett Field Lawsuit to the Surprise of Elected Officials

March 19, 2024

Vol. 104 No. 12

A Kings County judge quietly dismissed a lawsuit raised by a bipartisan team of elected officials, civic leaders and residents to close a migrant tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field that has housed approximately 2,000 asylum seekers since November.

The case, Jaime Williams vs. The State of New York, was dismissed by Judge Peter Paul Sweeney on March 6th without notifying the public, and it was the Canarsie Courier that uncovered the dismissal and broke the news to elected officials on March 13th.

An injunction that was filed last fall to halt the building of the migrant camp at Floyd Bennett Field had been moved from Staten Island to federal and finally a Brooklyn court. The case was heard in February, and the Canarsie Courier inquired about its status at a Mill Basin Civic Association meeting held on the evening of March 12th, where a representative from Assemblywoman Jaime Williams’ office said there was no information available at the time.

Inquiries were made to both Williams’ and Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s offices the next day to confirm information the Canarsie Courier discovered on the New York State Unified Court System website that appeared to show the disposition of the case on March 6th.

Communications Director Ray Vann from Ariola’s office confirmed the information, which neither Williams nor Ariola were aware of until the Courier’s phone call and email on March 13th.  Although there was mention of a memorandum in the court record, there was no connecting link for the decision on the court website.

Williams and Ariola then issued an immediate joint statement expressing their extreme disappointment and disgust that the judge dismissed the case without notifying either party or the public.

“We ask that Judge Sweeney publish the memorandum explaining exactly why he has decided this way, and we will continue to do what we can to push for an immediate closure of the tent complex at Floyd Bennett Field,” Ariola said.

Williams was appalled by the decision. “We would love to know why he feels it is prudent to place 2,000 human beings in a flood zone in the middle of a National Recreation Area,” she said. “This is a disgrace and an insult to every taxpaying citizen [who] resides in the area around Floyd Bennett Field and a disservice to the people who are being forced to live in this compound.”

The Canarsie Courier reached out to Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, whose 46th Council District covers the Southeast Brooklyn neighborhoods most affected by the case, for her reaction to the decision and joint statement.  She released the following additional statement on March 14th:

“Last week’s court decision regarding the use of Floyd Bennett Field to house migrant families highlights the pressing need for a coordinated, multi-level government intervention. We must focus on comprehensive solutions that address the continued arrival of migrants, reform our immigration policies and ensure that the families already housed at the site don’t continue to languish at the ill-suited location without the prospect of becoming productive members of society.”

Subsequently, the “DECISION + ORDER OF MOTION” filed March 8th was received and entered as a “NOTICE OF ENTRY” on the court website on March 14th, rendering the decision public.

The conclusion of the 35-page decision cited that The court, having considered the parties remaining contentions, finds them unavailing” based on lack of standing, failure to meet a “threshold burden of establishing that they suffered injury-in-fact” and other burdens of proof or validations of arguments put forth by the plaintiffs.

All three elected officials recently toured the Floyd Bennett Field migrant camp on February 1st (see “Canarsie Courier Exclusive! — Pols Meet with Migrants During Tour at Floyd Bennett Field,” Canarsie Courier, February 8, 2024).

Councilwomen Mercedes Narcisse and Joann Ariola, and Assemblywoman Jaime Williams and staff, at Floyd Bennett Field on February 1st to tour the facilities and meet with migrants.

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