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Two District 26 Council Candidates to Hold Discussion on American Colonialism Sunday

A conversation on the US history of anti-colonial struggles with District 26 Council Candidates Steven Raga and Jonathan Bailey. (Photo: Instagram)

June 4, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

Two city council candidates will host a conversation in Long Island City Sunday about the impact that American colonialism has had on the Black and Filipino communities, as well as the current human rights abuses in the Philippines and the NYPD’s expansion overseas.

Jonathan Bailey and Steven Raga, who are running to represent the 26th Council District, will discuss their shared experiences pertaining to the struggles of Black Americans and Filipinos due to America’s colonial history.

The event will take place at the Blissville Veteran’s Memorial located at the intersection of Greenpoint Ave., Van Dam Street, and Review Street, beginning at 3 p.m.

City Council candidate Steven Raga with community leader Tom Mituzas at the Blissville Veterans Memorial (Instagram)

The candidates are accepting questions in advance via their Instagram pages. The event will be livestreamed via the candidates Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.

“When people reference Black and brown people, really, it’s just another way of saying colonized peoples of the world,” Bailey said. “Both Filipino and Black Americans have violence done upon them through the legacy of American imperialism.”

Bailey says that American colonialism has completely shaped the face of race relations.

“It’s dictated everything about the relationship of Black America to other racial and ethnic groups,” he said.

Raga says the two candidates linked up a few months ago when they were speakers on a panel and discussed issues relating to the Filipino American community.

They discussed the current issues in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has called on police to kill those suspected of dealing or using drugs. Over 7,000 people were killed by police or unknown assailants in the first seven months of Duterte’s “war on drugs,” according to police statistics.

The pair addressed legislation that is before the U.S. House of Representatives that would limit this country’s police and military assistance to the Philippines until the Philippine government makes a commitment to prosecuting human rights violators.

That bill, called the Philippine Human Rights Act, was introduced last September and is co-sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Raga and Bailey say that the NYPD should not be opening satellite offices abroad. It opened an office in the Philippines in 2012.

“Our taxpayer money should not be used to fund international partnerships,” Raga said. “We should specify that this is a perfect example of what we can do to reallocate the funds that are budgeted to the NYPD.”

Members of NY4PHRA and Malaya Movement, organizations that promote human rights and pro-democracy causes in the Philippines, will be on hand to join the discussion.

Raga and Bailey are among the 15 Democratic candidates running for the seat, which encompasses Woodside, Sunnyside, and parts of Astoria and Long Island City. The others are Amit Bagga, Julia Forman, Jesse Laymon, Ebony Young, Emily Sharpe, Hailie Kim, Badrun Khan, Denise Keehan-Smith, Julie Won, Lorenzo Brea, Glennis Gomez, Brent O’Leary and Sultan Maruf.

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