Archive for the tag 'racism'
What would you do if you encountered a white supremacist in Sheepshead Bay? Would you walk away? Would you pick a fight? Or would you try to engage him and change his mind?
Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent the last 15 years as a features editor at Canarsie Courier. Aside from reporting, he did public relations work for brands including Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. In addition to his freelance reporting for Sheepshead Bites, Friedman contributes occasional columns on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.
When anti-Semitism resurfaces, it strikes a chord that reminds Jews of the ongoing bigotry that has existed for centuries; since Pharaoh drove the Jews from Egypt, as described in the Old Testament; from attacks in the Dark Ages when Christians believed Jews were responsible for killing Jesus Christ; from the pogroms across Eastern Europe in the 19th century to the horrors of the 20th century Holocaust to violent and non-violent attacks that crop up every now and then.
Sadly, in Brooklyn, the “now” has taken place with a slew of episodes in recent weeks.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents the 46th district which overlaps portions of Community Board 15, was detained this weekend during the West Indian Day Parade, along with an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Williams claims the police handled him roughly and unnecessarily, even while he presented his City Council bonafides and explained that NYPD brass had given him clearance.
Today, Williams held a press conference while flanked by scores of other elected officials from around the city and state, stating that he believed the incident occurred because of his skin color and the discriminatory stop-and-frisk protocol tainting enforcement culture.
Below is a statement Williams’ office issued following the conference.
Murders, slum lords, fires and now… hate crimes! Sheepshead Bay is just kicking today…
A hate-filled cretin burglarized and vandalized the Avenue Z Jewish Center (875 Avenue Z), stealing hundreds of dollars and desecrating religious artifacts.
According to Councilman Michael Nelson’s office, which is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal – or vandals - the burglary occurred on February 5. The perp(s) smashed a back window to the synagogue and stole $200 from a donation box. Not content to take the money and run, they also roughed up a torah, desecrating and damaging the religious scroll that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The Department of Buildings has lifted the controversial hold they placed on the proposed 2812 Voorhies Avenue mosque today, providing the ultimate green-light for construction to begin immediately.
Backers of the Sheepshead Bay Islamic Community Center met with DOB officials today to clarify on certain points of their plan. Their final paperwork passed DOB muster, and the project has now been approved by the commissioner. The mosque’s proponents now need only to obtain work permits in order to break ground, which a DOB spokesperson said can be issued the same day the paperwork is submitted.
The city put the plans on hold last week to review whether a Place of Assembly permit was required. According to DOB spokesperson Carly Sullivan, it is a common auditing process which they imposed on over 1,000 proposals in Brooklyn alone in 2009.
However, the Brooklyn Paper/Courier-Life chain set off an ongoing storm of controversy over the DOB decision by depicting the city as caving in to pressure. At the time the story broke on their website, it read, “The delay smacks of a back-room deal, especially since neighborhood political leaders are supporting the city’s stunning turnaround.”
The editors have since changed the audacious and unsubstantiated statement to “The delay felt to Ahmed and others like a back-room deal, especially since neighborhood political leaders are supporting the city’s stunning turnaround.” (The original version can still be found on The Yeshiva World News website, which excerpted the article.)
Regardless of how some media reported the delay, it appears the mosque now has the blessings of the Department of Buildings and will move forward soon.
A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings has told Sheepshead Bites that additional reviews of buildings are “not uncommon,” and that the issues that spurred the latest review of the proposed mosque’s plans are “easily rectified.”
The main issue behind the third review of 2812 Voorhies Avenue, just days after it was approved twice by plan examiners, is that the DOB is asking the mosque’s organizers to clarify the occupancy of the first floor to determine if a Place of Assembly permit is required.
The spokesperson confirmed that a meeting between the organizers and the department commissioner is scheduled for this week, and that the speed with which final approval can be made depends on the applicant. It could be days, but it’s possible some changes to the plans may be required, delaying the project even more.
Permits can be issued as soon as the plans are finalized and approved by the DOB.
UPDATE [2:49 p.m.]: The Department of Buildings just informed Sheepshead Bites that they met with the building’s architect this morning to discuss the issue. They will meet again on Friday to allow the group to submit new plans, which can be approved immediately if it meets the DOB’s concerns. The spokesman added that in 2009, more than 1,000 applications in Brooklyn alone were subject to similar audits.
After a year-long Department of Buildings review of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque finally passed examiner’s muster last week, the city stunned the center’s proponents by placing a hold on the project.
The agency’s records show that the plan for 2812 Voorhies Avenue was approved on Wednesday, then reviewed and approved a second time on Thursday. After approval from the plan examiner, the filing is now branded with a “Job on hold” message, just as the mosque’s organizers were seeking contractors to begin work.
“Why? I have no idea why,” said Ibrahim Anse, the center’s architect. “It’s a unique situation that puts the DOB in a question mark.”
Building plans for a Muslim American Society-run mosque on Voorhies Avenue have been approved by city officials, clearing the way for construction to begin immediately.
The approved plans detail a 35-foot-tall three-story building with a cellar, fitting 121 people inside two worship rooms, a library and classrooms. The brick building at 2812 Voorhies Avenue will not include a roof extension as originally requested, presumably for a minaret, after the Department of Building nixed those plans a year ago. There will be no parking on the property.
With bureaucratic holdups out of the way, mosque organizers are looking to get to work right away.
“We’re looking for a contractor, and there’s still some business to take care of,” said Ibrahim Anse, the project’s architect. “Once we find a contractor … it’s going to be a couple of weeks. Maybe by the end of the month [we'll begin construction].”
But opponents are still vowing to keep fighting to throw the brakes on the project.
Those issues are concerns about traffic, noise and parking disrupting life on the otherwise quiet – and narrow – Voorhies Avenue. To handle those concerns, mosque planners have promised not to broadcast calls to prayer externally, and that the small facility is being created to serve local families who will walk there.
Opponents have also expressed outrage at the backing organization – Muslim American Society – who they say support radical Islamic groups abroad, including Hamas and Hizbollah. The FBI has stated there is “no indication whatsoever the Muslim American Society is affiliated with any organization that threatens our national security.”
Regardless, Anse said he’s not too concerned about a challenge holding up the process, though he did say the organizers remain open-minded to their neighbors’ concerns.
“If they have anything to talk about, we extended our hands, we’ve been extending our hands even though we have approval,” he said.
*This article originally indicated the building would fit 141 people. That was a mistake – the correct number is 121. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.
by Joe Maniscalco
Neighbors rallying against a controversial new mosque planned for Sheepshead Bay clashed with counter-demonstrators outside the proposed site on Voorhies Avenue on Sunday, once again turning the sleepy block located between East 28th Street and East 29th Street into an ideological battleground of ill wills where hate-tinged epitaphs and ugly slurs flew for roughly two hours as cops worked hard to keep the two groups apart.
In a notable departure from Bay People’s previous rally, both sides were bolstered by political and advocacy-based organizations from outside Sheepshead Bay’s borders. Those gathered under the Brooklyn Tea Party banner on one side of the block hammered away at the Muslim American Society (MAS) – sponsors of the proposed mosque – for its alleged ties to known terrorist networks abroad, while members of a group called the New York City Coalition to Stop Islamophobia camped across the street denouncing the accusations as nothing more than racist rants.