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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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31 Comments

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John O

Isn’t it racist for Van Bramer and the proponents of the petition to suggest that the violators of the 10 PM park closure rule are disproportionately people of color?

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Why does the Radical Right want everything to be PC?

I’m sorry you found that racist. It’s based on facts.

Could he have phrased it in a way that didn’t offend you so much?

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It’s based on facts.

So it’s a fact that people of color swill alcohol and take drugs and have no qualms about disturbing the public peace??

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Real Sunnysider

This has been happening over 10 years every summer. But now that the area has been gentrified they want us out.

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Swine Flu

I don’t understand how raving and doing drugs is anti-social behavior? I mean, is it ok when it’s not done in a park? Is that the point? Cos raves and drug use and drinking happen all over the city pre-COVID. Also, FYI, your private security firm is three blocks away from the park. It’s called the 108 precinct.

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Tree of Liberty

They are so right that this security squad like the police will discriminate against brown and black people. Look how they go after black and brown people for gun violence in NYC. Over 95 % of the people arrested for gun violence in NYC are black and brown.

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only 2% of shooting victims are white

You’re right, the VAST majority of residents are not at risk of gun violence. That’s not what discrimination means though, it’s disproportionate. Google what those words mean.

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Tree of Liberty

I can’t agree with you more. Because of housing and renting discrimination against black and brown people in certain neighborhoods white people are not suffering from being victims of shootings as much

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Yana

We all seen all those social media videos of cops trying to stop people from loitering or trying to get people to follow social distancing guidelines and most result in the civilians pulling out there cell phones recording cursing out the cops refusing to leave edging them on and so forth. This is why cops only respond to serious 911 calls now and are doing nothing to make themselves present in public other than speed on the street. This is the new nyc and why people are moving to the suburbs where typically neighbors looks out for each other and most people respect their outdoor spaces and properties.

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Gardens Watcher

A state park belongs to all of the People. Respect for public spaces and respect for the park rules seem to be what’s missing in this situation. Add more garbage cans too.

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Reader

This may be an uncomfortable reality for you, but many people are disrespectful louts. That’s why everyone else gets together and decides what is tolerable, then hires some professionals to enforce the decision. You’re being deliberately obtuse if you don’t know what’s going on right now.

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Gardens Watcher

I don’t live near there. Respectfully, I only know what I read, Reader. Good luck.

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SuperWittySmitty

I prefer fewer garbage cans. It would be an additional taxpayer expense to regularly collect garbage from them. Bring along a plastic bag and tote your garbage back home and dispose of it.

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Matty

The signers of this petition should go hang out at minority neighborhoods like Queensbridge Housing drink, litter, be loud, graffiti, and do drugs for a couple of days and lets see how that community deals with people who dont live there causing havoc.

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Jill

How dare the above petition conclude that the poor and minorities are the majority of the trouble makers and therefore be the majority that the security guards will call the cops on.

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nobody

The cops stopped working in June when they discovered that they were public servants and not a protected class. Now, like an abusive spouse, they want us to see how bad it could get if we don’t crawl back to them. 2020!

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Observer

The community has asked the police to patrol. They didn’t.
They decide to get their own security and now it’s discrimination. Then police need to patrol and see if these lovely people are enjoying the park quietly and are being discriminated against.

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Tensions Mount?

Is there anything in this country that doesn’t cause tension. Everyone and everything is so contentious and so many today have a chip on their shoulder. I’m waiting for the day when cat lovers and dog lovers face off in angry confrontation over which pet is better and why your evil if you don’t agree.

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#catpeople

There was a battle years ago
The dog owners vs the cat people in Sunnyside
So crazy I could not make this up!
Signs were posted on trees about either wild dogs or wild cats running loose
Drove precinct crazy

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Gloria

Knew this would happen. Try protecting quality of life or preventing crime and some group will pop up and say youre targeting minorities and/or being racists. This is what happens when you build luxury homes next to affordable housing and open up homeless shelters. North western queens is beginning to look more and more like San Francisco.

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#wheresjimmy?

You mentioned San Francisco
Will never visit again
The homeless and drug addicted have taken over with the help of radical politicians
We are become San Fran east thanks to deblasio

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John Lynch

If this is private land, go for private security. If its not, the guards have no authority what so ever. We tried this in Howard Beach in the 80’s and it did nothing after a few months. This isn’t going to end well.

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Rebecca

Oh plse. People have been arrested for truing to protect private property and trespassers. Pretty we will be told that are in home security systems and window guards are discriminatory.

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Sunnysider

Completely agree. I can’t believe it’s legal to hire private patrolling for a public park. Can I hire a squad to police Central Park the way that I see fit?! I seriously doubt it. This will just end up in the courts.

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SuperWittySmitty

Central Park is closed at 10 PM and this is enforced by NYPD. If there were NYPD patrolling this area, private security wouldn’t be needed.

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Reader

You and I and everyone else with a clue know what needs to be done. If you have people coming in and acting foolish you need to go in and show them the score. Do it a few times and you get a proper reputation, and fools stop coming around.

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Black Olives Matter

If the riff-raff were hanging about being nuisance in Sunnyside Gardens where Van Bramer lives. He’d being whistling a different tune.

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Guest

It actually his, I wonder if he will move soon, he doesn’t care about what’s happening in Sunnyside, its turning into crap with a lot of sketchy characters.

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LIC Direct

100%. on the JVB comment. Where is the little man these days? he’s pull a disappearance act – is he quarantining in the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Key West, Fire Island, Hudson Valley or Providence invited by his rich Real Estate developer friends?

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