Monday, 9th August 2010

Hundreds rally against beating of a Queens gay man

Posted on 15. Dec, 2009 by Lulu Yilun Chen in Crime and Courts, Politics and Government, Queens

Hundreds rally against beating of a Queens gay man

Hundreds rally against beating of a Queens gay man from luluyilun on Vimeo.

By Lulu Yilun Chen

Hundreds of people gathered on College Point Boulevard in Queens on a Saturday afternoon to denounce the beating of a gay man whom police say was a victim of a bias crime.

Standing across the street from the protest was about a dozen people who said they were friends of the two men arrested. They protested behind barracks set up by the police and held up signs saying that the public should not rush to conclusions to accuse the suspects of bias.

At about 4:30 a.m. on October 8th two men attacked Jack Price, 49, of College Point, outside a local deli at College Point Boulevard and 18 Avenue in Queens after he stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes on his way home. The two men repeatedly beat and kicked Mr. Price, all of which was caught on videotape from a security camera, according to police.

After the assault, the suspects fled the location, leaving Mr. Price with a shattered jaw, broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Mr. Price managed to return to his home and call 911. He was rushed to Booth Memorial Hospital where he is currently being treated. He was able to identify the two suspects and make an account of the crime, according to police.

Police said that Daniel Aleman, 26, was arrested three days after the assault and charged with felony assaults as a hate crime. Daniel Rodriguez, 21, was apprehended in Virginia five days after the attack.

Supporters of the victim marched down College Point Boulevard from 20th Avenue to 14th Avenue, joined by many city officials, including Helen Marshall, the Queens borough president, Scott Stinger, Manhattan borough president, and Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, who is openly gay.

Daniel Dromm, the Democratic candidate for City Council district 25, led the crowd chanting, “Now is the moment. Now is the time. We say no to hate crime,” “LGBT, we celebrate diversity,” and “Jack Price was under attack. What do we do? Fight back!”

It was a diverse crowd that ranged from moms carrying seven-month-old babies to men with dressed-in-pink Chihuahuas and grey-haired women holding rainbow flags with the printed words “equality.”

About 300 people stopped at the nearby Popenhusen playground to give speeches, according to organizers. Family members of Mr. Price and city officials, including William Thompson, the City comptroller and mayoral candidate, delivered speeches to the crowd.

“The answer when it comes to hate crime,” said Thompson, “The answer is no.

“We are sending out a message of what we will allow in this city and what we will not,” added Thompson. “We will not be silent in any act, in any community. We will come together, we will let those people know it is wrong and you will not get away with it.”

Joanne Guaneri, 42, the sister-in-law of Mr. Price, embraced her daughter, Amanda Guaneri, 15, listening quietly to the speeches as they stood close to the stair-converted-stage in front of the crowd.

Joanne Guaneri then walked to the microphone and spoke in husky voice, “They beat my brother-in-law until near death. For $10. And for a pack of cigarettes.

“Put aside the hate crime on this, they beat a man to near death and that is why I am out here,” said Ms. Guaneri.

The youngest speaker was Jack Price’s niece, 15-year-old Amanda Guaneri, a student at Bayside High School.

“I am proud of him (Mr. Price) to be my uncle. Whatever he is, he is my uncle. I love him and I will stick behind him,” said Amanda Guaneri, “I want to say to the people following Daniel Rodriguez: Why? Why? He did wrong. You shouldn’t be behind him.”

Those words were directed at a group of 14 people, who supported Mr. Rodriguez and rallied right across the street on College Point Boulevard, arguing that the public should not jump to conclusions and define the beatings of Mr. Price as a hate crime.

Marcel Gelmi, 26, who has known Rodriguez for 11 years, said he was not biased toward gay people.

“Why is this a hate crime? Because Jack Price says so? Those cameras pick up no sound,” said Mr. Gelmi, 26. “Danny had a lot of gay friends.”

Hate crimes are not common in Queens, according to Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker.

“The two hateful people who we believe committed this crime are not representative of Queens County or College Point,” said Ms. Quinn. “The two men who did this are a minority.”

The last time an assault related to the gay community happened in Queens was in 2001, when Edgar Garzon was attacked outside of a gay club in Jackson Heights, Queens, and died because of the injuries.

However, incidents motivated by bias based on sexual orientation were up 5.5 percent within the past two years since 2006, accounting for 16.6 percent of hate crimes conducted in the United States, according to F.B.I. reports.

President Obama signed a bill on Wednesday that finally declared it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

In the past 10 years, the House and the Senate separately approved the hate crimes expansion numerous times. But congressional Republicans repeatedly blocked final passage.

The new policy will expand the definition of a 1968 hate crime law that applies to people attacked because of their race, religion or national origin.

“I think it’s one small part of a large picture which needs to be painted in order to have a world where everyone can be a full person without being physically, psychologically, or legally punished because of their gender or sexuality,” said Marisa Ragonese, head of Generation Q, a program for young gay and lesbians.

Mr. Price underwent surgery for a puncture in his lung last Tuesday and is now in stable condition, according to Ms. Guaneri.

In Glendale, Residents Push for a ZIP Code of Their Own

Posted on 09. Dec, 2009 by Carolyn Phenicie in Beats Blog, Queens

By Carolyn Phenicie

The Fair, a home goods store in Western Queens, has been around since 1938. But only in recent years, since it moved from Ridgewood to Glendale, have customers had trouble finding it.

“People who use GPS sometimes have trouble finding the mall,” Jake Gerson, an employee at The Fair, said of The Shops at Atlas Park.

There are at least 10 Glendales in the United States. That, plus the lack of its own ZIP code – it shares 11385 with neighboring Ridgewood – has always been a problem for Glendale, but in recent years, the proliferation of GPS technology has caused new headaches. People no longer ask their neighbors and friends how to get somewhere. They ask their cars. And the answers, when it comes to Glendale, are often unclear.

“They may be minor challenges to some, but they are consistent, annoying things that hurt small businesses in the area,” Lydon Sleeper, chief of staff for City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, said in a phone interview.

Ashley Zanzonico, who works at the boutique Stella Gialla, also in Atlas Park, said people still have trouble finding the store, even though it has been at this location since 2006.

In an op-ed in The Times Newsweekly, a newspaper in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Crowley also noted incidents of emergency services from outside the area who were unable to find houses in the neighborhood, as well as online transactions complicated by confusion over whether neighborhood residents live in Glendale, Ridgewood or Flushing, which is the city the U.S. Postal Service uses for the 11385 ZIP code.

“Glendale is like a forgotten area,” Zanzonico, who lives near in Glendale near Atlas Park, said. “People have no idea where you’re talking about.”

The 11385 ZIP code covers a much larger area than those around it. There were 97,524 residents in the 11385 ZIP code, according to the 2000 Census, the most recent data available. Neighboring Middle Village (ZIP code 11379) and Maspeth (11378), had about 30,000 and about 34,000 residents, respectively.

Despite residents’ concerns and the size of the 11385 ZIP code, there are no plans to add a new ZIP code for Glendale, according to Darlene Reid-De Meo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service.

“I understand some of the Queens residents want their own ZIP code, [but] unless the Postal Service determines it would be more efficient for us to deliver the mail with a new ZIP code, we would not create one,” she said.

Additionally, the total volume of mail nationally has fallen 30 percent, Reid-De Meo said. In July the Postal Service moved the processing of all mail for Queens to Brooklyn, she said.

“It’s not time to expand, it’s time to consolidate,” she said.

Ultimately, though, the issue of separate ZIP codes seems to come down to residents’ belief that Glendale has its own identity and that a real separation from Ridgewood should be solidified with a new ZIP code.

Because the two neighborhoods are in the same ZIP code and community district, government demographic data encompasses both neighborhoods. Yet the differences between the two are clear. Ridgewood has more of a city feel, with more people walking on the street and signs in languages besides English. Glendale, by contrast, is more suburban, with well-maintained single family homes and duplexes that neatly decorated for Christmas; there is little foot traffic.

In her op-ed, Crowley noted Glendale has its own parks, schools, church parishes and community centers.

“Our sense of pride and belonging, coupled with the lack of an official identity creates daily issues for the Glendale resident that could be solved with an additional ZIP code.”