Archive for the tag 'rockaway beach'

swastika

Photo by Jane Roitman

A Queens assemblyman has asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to look into regulating swastikas and other offensive ads from taking to the skies after beachgoers were shocked this weekend by the appearance of a swastika-towing plane flying over the sands.

The banner, shown above, was flown on Saturday by the International Raelian Movement, a quasi-religious organization that says they’ve cloned humans and they believe extraterrestrial scientists made life on Earth. The group flies the banner over New York City beaches annually to “rehabilitate” the image as a sign of peace and unity. Although it wasn’t intended to be anti-Semitic, locals were outraged that the passion-stirring icon would fly over one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

In addition to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the banner toured over the Rockaway and Long Island beaches.

CBS reports on the effort to make sure the Raelians won’t be back next year:

Assemblyman Phil Goldfelder, D-Queens, told [reporter Alex] Silverman he is asking the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs to look at regulating swastikas in the sky and other offensive ads, which he thinks can be done without opening a constitutional can of worms. He’s also considering introducing legislation.

“There’s been a lot of precedent about regulation on signage in public places, and I think that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our families,” Goldfelder said.

swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz wants the city to admit defeat on their plans to erect public bathrooms in front of the Oceana luxury condominiums (50 Oceana Drive West) and just forgo the plans completely. Cymbrowitz’s announcement comes on the heels of reports that similarly installed stations on Far Rockaway have already begun rusting and leaking.

The controversial bathroom project, which also include lifeguard shacks and maintenance structures, was approved in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and put up quickly to be ready for the summer beach season. The construction and installation of the 35 units, spread out over Staten Island, Rockaway Beach, Coney Island and Brighton Beach, cost an estimated $105 million. The structures were built by Triton Construction and designed by Garrison Architects with the intention of meeting all of the latest FEMA specifications and guidelines. According to DNAinfo, the units installed along Rockaway Beach have already started to deteriorate:

But while the shacks were intended to be strong enough to withstand the next superstorm, those who have used them say they are already falling apart — including at least one structure that has duct tape securing its railings for the handicapped-accessible ramp.

“I look at it now and I say, ‘Is this going to last the winter?’” said one lifeguard assigned to Far Rockaway, who asked not to be identified. “There’s leaks right next to the equipment closet. They left it half-done and now there’s problems. The job was done like people didn’t care. It’s a monstrosity. It’s a debacle.”

Photos shared with DNAinfo show the units — some of which are public bathrooms and others that are lifeguard stations — lined with rust and beginning to show wall cracks before the summer has even finished.

“The insides are starting to rust and they leak all over the place,” said another lifeguard who works out of a shack on Rockaway Beach.

While the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) did admit to using some temporary materials in the construction of the lifeguard stations and bathrooms, they defended against the notion that the buildings were beginning to rust:

On Friday afternoon, the DDC sent DNAinfo New York a video showing a department employee scrubbing a portion of a unit with a Clorox wipe and a sponge. They said the cleaning shows it’s “not rust, just dirt — which likely adhered to adhesive left behind from when the pieces were wrapped in plastic for delivery,” a spokesman said.

In our area, complaints over the new units were most vocal from tenants living in the Oceana condominium complex. Original reports had them most concerned over the idea that the bathrooms would wreck their views of the ocean and attract homeless people and teenagers looking to cause trouble. Fearing that their initial complaints were not being taken seriously, Oceana residents used their political heft to get politicians like Cymbrowitz and Senator Charles Schumer involved, and the opposition evolved to include concerns about cost overruns and safety issues.

The bathrooms scheduled to be built in front of the Oceana still remain parked at the end of the boardwalk because workers hit bedrock in their effort to lay the foundation, forcing a delay in construction. As the summer season is fast ending, Cymbrowitz is calling for the city to just give up in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“It is evident that the tens of thousands of people who visited our beautiful beach this season managed to survive just fine without having a comfort station in front of the Oceana. That said, it’s high time for the city to pack up its pail and shovel (along with the cement piles still sitting near the Oceana), clean up the mess it made on our beach, and go home,” Cymbrowitz wrote.

Cymbrowitz asked the city to involve the city residents in any future plans regarding the boardwalk.

“The only fair solution to this protracted boondoggle is for the city to start from square one, keep an ear firmly tuned to the community’s wishes and build the comfort stations further west on the Boardwalk,” Cymbrowitz said.

Despite the calls of Cymbrowitz and others, the Parks Department is still planning to install the last of the units in the fall. The DDC also told DNAinfo that they are committed to keeping the units spiffy after Labor Day.

“We will also be performing some cosmetic work, including refinishing portions of the stainless steel surfaces on the modular units,” a DDC spokesman said.

Source: Gifter Photos via Twitter via Gothamist

Source: Gifter Photos via Twitter via Gothamist

If you went to Coney Island or Brighton Beach on Sunday afternoon, you might have noticed a plane tugging a banner with a swastika emblazoned on it that also read “peace + love proswastika.org.” According to a report by the Village Voice, the banner was flown by a religious sect known as the Raelians in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the swastika symbol.

As the plane soared over the beaches of Coney Island, Rockaway Beach and Long Island, people took to Twitter to post pictures and express disbelief over the bizarre message floating in the sky.

Erin Armo, a loyal Johnny Depp fan according to her Twitter page, was one of the stunned witnesses.

“At the beach a plane dragging a banner that says “swastika = peace + love proswastika.org ” just flew by…what the actual f,” Armo tweeted.

The Village Voice took on the task of answering Armo’s legitimate question:

Good question, young lady! We’ll tell you what the actual F. Sunday was the fourth annual “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” according to ProSwastika, the site on the aforementioned banner. The gist of the “holiday,” if we can call it that, is that before the swastika was a Nazi symbol, it was a Sanskrit one, and it’s simply not fair to let the mean old Nazis appropriate the whole thing.

We’ll let the ProSwastikateers take it from here:

The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika (in Devanagari, स्वस्तिक), meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck. It is composed of su- (cognate with Greek ευ-, “eu-”), meaning “good, well,” and asti, a verbal abstract to the root as “to be”; svasti thus means “well-being.” The suffix -ka forms a diminutive, and svastika might thus be translated literally as “little thing associated with well-being”.The swastika symbol is one of the oldest symbols on the Earth and can be found in all religions and traditions, on all continents!

Despite the followers of Raelism supporting bizarre notions like clitoris rehabilitation centers in Burkina Faso, cloning humans and interactions with aliens at volcano parks, I wonder if they have a small point.

The Nazis were a group of pure evil and they appropriated a symbol, albeit a reversed one, from an otherwise peaceful origin. Should this symbol now stand for tyranny and evil for the rest of time? The answer is probably yes.

There is a reason that the sight of a swastika is hated and singled out and that is because as a society, we can’t forget how only a few generations ago, the madness of Nazism swept across Europe, nearly destroying it.

Last month, we reported on a reverse swastika drawn on a Courier-Life news box in Midwood, and while the assumption was that it was the work of a hateful punk it could have very well been a local Raelist or Buddhist. Either way, the confusion reflects naivety of the Raelists in their effort to “rehabilitate” the swastika. They should probably wait a few thousand years before pulling stunts like this again.

Photo By Jeremy Drakeford

The New York District Army Corps of Engineers will perform an emergency dredging along the Atlantic Coast of New York City, including Jamaica Bay, for the purposes of beach nourishment, according to a report by Dredging Today.

The plan consists of dredging the federal navigation channel at Jamaica Bay and transferring the dredged up material to nourish Rockaway Beach.

Local residents have long wished for Sheepshead Bay to be dredged because the water in the Bay itself is too shallow, so it would be nice of the Army Corps of Engineers to swing by our parts and do a little digging – but it doesn’t look like we are being included in those plans.

Source: New Yorkers for Beverage Choices

If the battle to kill a proposed ban on large sugary drinks were likened to World War II, the Southern Brooklyn coastline played the role of Normandy this weekend.

The soda industry lobby unleashed an all-out assault on the densely packed beach at Coney Island, with dozens of activists on the sand and a banner-carrying plane overhead in an effort to win the public’s hearts, diets and wallets. From there, they established an outpost at the United Artists theater, also jam-packed with movie-goers escaping the brutal heat outside, with clipboard-wielding workers in T-shirts stating, “I picked out my beverage all by myself,” and pro-soda ads screened before every film.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choice, the beverage industry lobby group behind the push, flew this banner over the Coney Island and Rockaway beaches this weekend and on July 4 as part of an effort to educate New Yorkers about the ramifications of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks.

Several weeks ago, Bloomberg’s Administration has proposed a ban on beverages like soda in containers larger than 16-ounces in New York City restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, coffee shops, delis, pizza shops, and food trucks or carts.

“No one tells us what neighborhood to live in, what team to root for, or what deli to eat at,” said New Yorkers for Beverage Choice in a video on their website, entitled “Where Will it End?”

The goals of New Yorkers for Beverage Choice are to convey to New Yorkers that standing up to the Bloomberg Administration’s ban is about defending their freedom and rights, and to persuade them to sign petitions and submit comments to the Board of Health to ensure their voice is heard.

The city’s Board of Health will decide whether or not to endorse Bloomberg’s proposal after a public hearing on July 24.