April 15


The Migrant Madness Must End, Officials Say at Public Safety Meeting

April 15, 2024

Vol. 104 No. 16

It was a no-show for a number of city, state and federal agencies invited to a Public Safety Meeting on Wednesday, April 10th, at the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, to discuss growing concerns regarding the migrant tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field (FBF), which sits on federal parkland.

Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, who hosted the meeting, shared the list of invited panelists who declined, ranging from the mayor’s and governor’s office, the National Park Service and NYC Health + Hospitals to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) whose response was, “Sounds like many of the issues on the agenda should be addressed by some of the other invited agencies.”

Scheduled guest speaker Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-32nd Council District), part of a bipartisan coalition to close the migrant shelter, could not attend because she was feeling under the weather.

However, representatives from local civic organizations, concerned about quality of life issues in their neighborhoods, and members of the 63rd Precinct did attend the safety meeting.  Noting the absence of various agencies, Williams told residents, “This clearly sends a message that our community does not matter.  This is not politically driven…we want to have an open discussion and take questions back to the governor, mayor and the powers that be.”

“It is disrespectful that they have taken a national issue and put it in our backyard,” Williams said, referring to FBF as “no man’s land” and a flood zone, where there are no jobs or supermarkets.  With nothing to do, migrants walk to Kings Plaza and knock on doors, holding signs, begging for money. The assemblywoman said they have contacted the administration at FBF and were told that they provide all the necessary amenities for the migrants.

She said that a budget is not being passed because there are electeds that don’t believe in law enforcement or increasing penalties for retail theft, ruining our quality of life.

“And to add insult to injury, they are putting in $2.4 billion for migrant services,” Williams said. Sadly, veterans will not see an extra dime of that money.  She urged everyone to stand up and have their voices heard by casting their vote later this year.

Deputy Inspector Rachael Kosak, commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct, is familiar with the concerns at the migrant shelter and explained the responsibilities of the NYPD and U.S. Park Police. “Inside the fence line is New York City Police Department jurisdiction – U.S. Park Police does not enter the fenced-in area,” she said.  “You walk outside the fence line and you are on park service property – that is shared by us and Park Police.”  Park Police is responsible for towing illegal vehicles parked outside FBF, which has been a recurring problem.

In spite of panhandling complaints on social media and among neighbors, Kosak said the precinct has received very few complaints.  “I’m not saying it’s not happening; we’re not getting the calls.  If the complaints don’t come in, we can’t take action,” she said, urging residents to report all panhandling complaints to 311.  Residents should call 911 for trespassers in their backyard, package theft and insurance fraud scams – in cases where someone jumps in front of your car, hoping to make a quick buck from you, but you did not hit them.

As Williams’ 59th Assembly District has abundant greenways, squatters have made their home in places like the Marine Park Salt Marsh area, and currently tents are being set up in Gerritsen Beach.

Kosak said squatting should be reported through the 311 app by uploading a picture of a tent or mattress, noting the location and stating that the site is an encampment.

Talk show host Curtis Sliwa, a Canarsie native and  founder of the Guardian Angels, was in attendance.  He has been active in opposing the use of a national recreation area as a tent shelter since the plan was first announced last summer.

“The bureaucrats decided not to be here.  Emergency management, which has hundreds of people.  The mayor’s office, governor, U.S. Parks Department – couldn’t send one person,” Sliwa told angry residents.  “They showed up at the meeting in Rockaway and got a little bit of heat.  Now they decided they aren’t going to come to the meeting.”

When FBF was flooded in January, OEM moved migrants to James Madison High School for emergency shelter while students were forced to go to remote learning that day.  “OEM,” Sliwa said. “They knew how to come out in force for that, for the migrants.”

“On Monday, April 15th, you have to pay your taxes.  If you don’t pay them, they can put you in jail,” Sliwa said. “Pay your taxes, shut your mouth.  We’ll tell you what we are going to do for you, which is to destroy your quality of life and neighborhood.  This is what our totalitarian government has become.”

He urged fed-up residents to attend the “Coalition for Better Communities” rally at Kings Plaza on Sunday, April 14th, at 12:30 p.m.

Although the public is told there are 2,000 migrants housed at FBF, Sliwa claims it’s more like 3,000 – and more could be coming soon, since a dozen buses arrived in Secaucus, New Jersey 24 hours earlier.  Since New Jersey doesn’t want them, they were sent to the Roosevelt Hotel processing center. “DocGo, the group that is running the Roosevelt Hotel, is having their contract suspended because they are a bunch of crooks who stole $432 million of our money – in a no-bid contract. This is mind-boggling!” Sliwa said.

And since the city has very little space to house these additional migrants, Sliwa said we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up at FBF, where there is plenty of room for more tents on Runway 19.

With summer upon us, Sliwa predicts that things will go from bad to worse as more migrants will be out on the streets panhandling. “Using babies as props because they know people are always going to give to the kids. It’s a racket!  Kids being taught to be porch pirates and take the packages.”

Sliwa talked about reports of organized shoplifters, attacking cops, and doing it with impunity, and Venezuelan gangs controlling Randalls Island, where there are stabbings, beatings and attacks on security guards daily.

The reward for attacking cops, Sliwa said, is landing up in the old Milford Plaza, where migrants get culturally appropriate foods, smartphones and health insurance.  “We give you everything – MetroCard, whatever you want, you get. But we look around and we see shoplifting, no consequences. You hit cops, no consequences. This is absolute madness.”

“We have to come together; our officials have abandoned us. I believe in the concept:  improve, don’t move.  Fight for what you know is right.”

Saye Joseph, Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse’s Chief of Staff, brought a different perspective to the table, stating that the migrant crisis is a federal issue and that the federal government should reimburse the city for taking on the burden of sheltering migrants.

With that comment, Ron Canterino, with the Coalition for Better Communities, yelled, “They are here illegally.  Do you understand the word illegal?  They crossed illegally.”

“Who gave the right to the City Council to take our tax dollars and give them money? We did not vote for this. Our tax dollars are for what we need in this  country – not to give other people that come in here,” Canterino said.

Others agreed, stating that some of our seniors don’t have money to put food on the table.

Another said, “There’s a very simple solution – send them back!”

Joseph insisted that the migrants are here legally “because we are under the right to shelter. It goes back to our state constitution.”  Canterino countered that the right to shelter is for the homeless, not for people here illegally, but Joseph rebutted that the constitution does not distinguish.

Marine Park Community Association President Rob Mazzuchin said to Joseph, “You are talking about how you could get more money from the government to put more people in our neighborhood, which everybody here is not in favor of. We were all united against the Level 1 encounters against the police officers. Our council member went and voted against the cops.  Why is that and why doesn’t she come and stand in front of this room and speak to this audience that she betrayed?”

Williams said that asking the federal government for money is not a solution.

“I am not going to ask the federal government for more money because they have to do one thing – and that’s close the border!  I would add to that this $2.4 billion that Kathy Hochul, our governor, is putting toward the migrants that want to reimburse, shame on her and shame on every elected official that is going to take that finger and press that ‘yes’ for that vote –  shame on you because it is clearly a misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

Deputy Inspector Rachael Kosak, commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct, speaks about the responsibilities of NYPD and Park Police relating to the Floyd Bennett migrant shelter.
Curtis Sliwa, a loud voice in opposition to the migrant shelter at Floyd Bennett Field, says the community needs to come together to fight for what is right.
Residents and members of various civic organizations, concerned about quality of life issues like panhandling, were in attendance at the safety meeting in Marine Park last week.

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