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Tension Mounts Over the Hiring of Private Security Firm on LIC Waterfront

Hunters Point waterfront (QueensPost)

Aug. 26, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

A number of residents have launched an online petition opposing private security guards patrolling the Hunters Point waterfront over the coming weeks.

The online petition, which was launched Saturday, seeks to prevent a separate group of residents from rolling out a private security firm to clamp down on anti-social behavior at Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park. The private security service is set to begin working the area–starting Thursday.

Supporters of the petition say that those advocating for the private security initiative have issues with minorities and poor people who come to the parks from other neighborhoods.

The petition says that private security would put these people at risk and that advocates have been using “coded language” on social media to describe the alleged perpetrators. The petition has garnered more than 220 signatures on change.org.

The advocates of the initiative have hired a private security firm to patrol the area, with the security team starting tomorrow.

The advocates say that crowds of young men and women have been taking part in drug and booze-fuelled rave parties while other delinquents have been illegally racing quad bikes and motorcycles in the parks and on sidewalks.

The group that has hired the security firm says that they have been left with no choice but to hire security because the cops aren’t policing the area enough and they feel unsafe.

They said they want the private security to act as a deterrent to crowds gathering at the parks when they close at 10 p.m. The advocates have hired four security officers to patrol the walkway outside both parks from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

However, the petitioners say that the move is nothing more than an excuse for racism and discrimination.

“I worry that many in the community actually have issues with black/brown and low-income folks in the neighborhood,” the petition reads.

“There are significant amounts of coded language and the ‘othering’ of the subjects of the posts. Hiring private security could increase the risk for black and brown residents of the community,” the petition reads.

The petition was created by Maria Diaz. The Queens Post reached out to Diaz for comment but has yet to receive a response.

On Monday, Diaz updated her petition and wrote that her group of detractors had secured legal representation to fight the security initiative.

She wrote that the team will investigate the legality of the initiative and seek transparency and accountability from the advocates.  Diaz wrote that the advocates have not responded to her inquiries — via the Hunters Point Civic Association Facebook page — as to how the security will work.

Diaz also wrote that she had spoken to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office about her concerns.

Van Bramer shared a screenshot of the detractor’s petition to Instagram stories late Monday and then released a statement on the issue via Twitter on Tuesday.

The lawmaker wrote that he was against the private security initiative.

“I am deeply uncomfortable and oppose a plan where wealthier individuals fund private security to patrol public parks and spaces,” Van Bramer wrote in a long Twitter thread.

Van Bramer wrote that the solution could be worse than the problem and that the move was a “slippery slope toward a situation that could get out of hand quickly.”

“And whether intended or not, people are right to question whether this private force will result in more over-policing of people of color,” he wrote.

Van Bramer in his tweet, however, said he is willing to participate in a community-wide Zoom meeting along with Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett.

However, Van Bramer’s tweet has further angered advocates who say that the council member has done little to address their concerns all summer. They say it may not have come down to this if he had helped them months ago. They are also calling for a solution.

Resident and organizer of the security initiative Yolanda Tristancho said that she has repeatedly contacted Van Bramer’s office but he has yet to engage with her. Tristancho provided the Queens Post with copies of her correspondences.

“He only went by that petition…instead of talking directly to the ones who proposed it and are working hard to organize a solution,” Tristancho said. She said other people in her group have reached out to him concerning these issues too.

“It makes me feel that my heartfelt email was completely ignored and the ones creating racial issues – when there is none – get the attention,” she said.

Tristancho refuted any suggestions that the initiative is racially motivated and said that the firm they have hired is a black-owned and operated security firm – On Point Security.

“Not that it should have any bearing… it’s not about race in any way,” she said.

“It’s about peace in the neighborhood and we welcome anyone who wants to come and enjoy the park but they must follow the posted rules that we should all follow,” she said.

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6 Comments

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JaimeB

This petition opposing private security in the park, signed by few people in total, and almost nobody from the LIC waterfront, seems to have juiced donations to the security fund. So thanks for that!

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Lived in Queens 60 yrs.

Do we still have police in this city? I haven’t seen one in months! I have never seen things so bad in this city as these days, I am afraid to leave my home anymore because people are out of hand. The Low Life criminals know this and are not afraid to take advantage of everyone. Yes to the private security. Can’t wait for do nothing Van Bramer to be gone.

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Anonymous

In the midst of the chaos, I think we should all be very grateful to the men and women of the parks department, and the volunteers for putting our park back together in the morning.

I’ve seen how it looks before they get to work in the morning, and I am so thankful they are doing what they can to clean it up. It’s gross.

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james edstrom

Jimmy Van Bramer has been contacted by hundreds pf residents for years now about the non policing of this park. He has ignored every complaint, many from low income and persons of color. We had his office at Civic meetings, we call, we e mailed his office and he refused to do a thing. None of the would be happening if the police did their job and Van Bramer did his job. He is not even around. He has been hiding up in Westchester for around 6 months and still collecting his pay. When the protesting started he ran for the hills when he should have been here to help the community through hard times. But Lamer Bramer only show up for photos and media attention. He has screwed the people of our community so bad, we will never for him again for any office. He claims this is a bunch or rich folks wanting the park for themselves, but low income and people of color donated to the security fund because they are terrified too at the criminals in this park and they are of every color. Van Bramer is racist in the fact the he seems to think it is people of color. It is every color. The reasons we have these problems is because he refuses to do the job he is paid for and the 108th refuses to police. I have seen the 108th let cars filled with fireworks that had booze, hookah and quarter pound of weed in plain view, no plates, no registration and the police not only allowed them to go, they allowed them to drive high as a kite. The park closes at 10pm. The easy solution would be at 10pm the cops drive inside the parks, announce the park is closed. They did this during the curfew and everyone left. They came back at 1 am and did this and everyone left. It took 25 min tops. Why can’t they just do this every night. We want the park to be for everyone, and no one minded they were there all night. But we find needles and condoms in childrens play area, fires have been set all summer long creating thousands in damage, we have raves and worst of all they are blasting this music louder than Madison Square Garden and the tenants can not get sleep. There is nothing Lamer Bramer can do. Our security will be patrolling the park. They have private security in Bryant Park and they have it in Battery Park. It is a little too late for Lamer Bramer to want a zoom meeting, he was invited to our meetings, he was told for many years about what was happening and he did nothing but send us form letter reply’s . But he sure had enough time to answer the petition personally. People in court Square have no right to dictate what happens in our community. I can very easy have flyers printed up announcing raves in their park and see how they like it. We can send all the crime, all the music and all the drugs to their park. They have no right to even comment on what goes on here and for Van Bramer to even support the criminals and the crime here just shows what a POS he is. Lamer Bramer needs to apologize to this community. He is now fueling a race war. Close the park at 10 pm which is the law and make the 108th patrol and enforce laws here. Easy solution. I also Invite Lamer Bramer to come here any weekend at 1 am and to see how safe he feels with all the chaos. This has been going on way too long. Our security starts tomorrow, nothing Lamer Bramer can do or anyone. Since the park is open to the public our security guards have every right to be in there. You do not want our security, close the park at 10pm which is the law. Then our security will roam the sidewalks protecting our cars that are smashed into every night. Solution, close the park period!

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