By Ben Weiss

Protestors Rally in Front of Council Member Levin’s Apartment During Budget Vote

Council Member Levin during yesterday evening’s remote hearing.

Protestors clanged and banged in front of Council Member Stephen Levin’s apartment yesterday evening as he joined a majority of members that passed the City Council’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The protest followed Levin’s announcement earlier this week that he would vote in support of a city budget that cuts the NYPD’s funding by $1 billion.

Demonstrators, however, exhorted him to cast a ‘no’ vote on a budget they say didn’t go far enough in defunding the city police.

“We don’t want them to pass the bill. It’s not what we asked for,” said Melina Juárez, a member of the protest who lives in Williamsburg. “It was just moving money around.”

Levin acknowledged that what was on the table was unsatisfactory for many of his constituents.

“This is the most difficult and heart-rending budget in recent memory,” he said during yesterday night’s hearing. “I too am disappointed that we weren’t able to go further with cuts to the NYPD.” Continue reading

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As Partygoers Crowd Berry Street, Police Enforce “Open Streets” Schedule

A crowd on Berry Street and N 8th Street this past weekend (Image courtesy of Moli Nex)

As crowds flock to restaurants and bars located on the mile-long, car-free stretch in Williamsburg, the police are enforcing the city’s “Open Streets” initiative that reserves Berry Street on a schedule of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for pedestrians and cyclists.

Residents say that the NYPD’s selective enforcement of the schedule runs counter to officers’ hands-off approach to maintaining and surveilling “open streets” citywide. It’s also a sudden policy change for Berry Street locals, who were accustomed to the police barriers’ presence from dawn until dusk.

Johanna, who lives on Berry Street and declined to give her last name, watched officers take down barricades on the street more than two weeks ago.

“We asked them why they’re taking them down, and he said, ‘It’s clearly being abused’,” she explained in an interview.

The 94th precinct is responsible for the northern stretch of Berry Street and confirmed that officers have been paying particular attention to what some residents call “Bourbon Street.”

“Personnel have responded to an increased number of 311 complaints on Berry Street involving crowds of people who refuse to adhere to the 8 p.m. end time,” corroborated Kathleen Fahey, the precinct’s Commanding Officer, in a statement.

In fact, more than half the number of 311 complaints citywide have concerned “social distancing” and “loud music/parties” near the Williamsburg waterfront since May 14th, when Mayor de Blasio added Berry Street to the city’s ever-increasing list of roads open to pedestrians, according to an analysis by Greenpointers. Continue reading

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Restaurants Improvise Outdoor Seating During First Weekend of Summer

Le Gamin’s curbside seating on a light-dappled Friday evening (Image via Ben Weiss)

Restaurants and bars across Greenpoint and Williamsburg, like the rest of New York City, opened outdoor seating to stir-crazy North Brooklynites during the borough’s first official weekend of summer.

Neighborhood institutions, like Krolewskie Jadlo, and neighborhood newcomers, like Ponyboy, improvised patios on crowded sidewalks and street curbs during the Phase 2 reopening of New York City.

Businesses are allowed to claim the sidewalks and parking spaces directly in front of their storefronts, after registering their intent with the city. Establishments on any of the city’s “open streets” also have the luxury of using that space for more seating.

Next week, the city is on track to enter Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, according to Mayor de Blasio. Phase 3 allows restaurant and bars to let patrons dine inside, with restrictions. All tables need to be at least six feet apart and seating capacity must be reduced to 50% of the business’s maximum occupancy. Continue reading

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Meet Riley Goodside: The Man Behind the Mask, Goggles, Gloves and Glasses

Riley Goodside near McCarren Park (Image via Ben Weiss)

Riley Goodside, 33, woke up early on the brisk morning of March 15th and was “disgusted.”  

Just four days earlier, the World Health Organization had formally declared COVID-19 a pandemic, but many people in New York City were milling about maskless in the streets, seemingly unaware that 329 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in the city alone.

“I saw this perfect storm brewing,” he said in an interview with Greenpointers

While his fiancée was still sleeping, he slinked out of bed and donned his elastomeric respirator, slipped on black nitrile gloves and strapped on clear, indirect-vent goggles. He then trudged over to the northern entrance of McCarren Park, where a number of Sunday brunch-goers were enjoying what would be their last mimosas out for months.

In full regalia, he stood in quiet protest. A photographer then snapped a photo of him and the impromptu sign he was carrying made out of an Amazon delivery box. 

It read: “CANCEL BRUNCH.”

That photo inaugurated Goodside’s rise as the pandemic poster child of the city. His signature getup—part theater, part protection—has graced social media and accompanied articles published across the country, from Miami to Alaska. Goodside’s image traveled internationally, too, appearing in publications based in El Salvador and Tajikistan.

Before his post-apocalyptic garb earned him international recognition, Goodside, a programmer who specializes in machine learning, explained that his accumulation of a wardrobe of personal protective equipment (PPE) began as an experiment.  Continue reading

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North Brooklyn’s In-Progress Primary Results

Campaign posters spotted in Greenpoint this week. (Photo via Ben Weiss)

North Brooklyners braved a still-simmering pandemic and the hot humidity on Tuesday to cast their votes in New York’s 2020 democratic primary elections.

While the primary is the appetizer before the entrée of the general election, most of the winners in New York City are effectively guaranteed office as the city’s population overwhelmingly skews Democrat.

Absentee ballots are much more predominant in this election due to the pandemic and will begin to be counted on June 30th, according to The New York Times. The city distributed 78,819 absentee ballots with 11,00 ballots returned so far, Gothamist reports.

Key races remain very much up in the air, such as NY-12’s heated contest between Suraj Patel and the incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who led her challenger by less than 700 votes as of Wednesday afternoon.

The following results are preliminary and do not account for absentee ballots:


Continue reading

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Linda Minucci Is up for Reelection: Find Out Who She Is and Why She Is Running

Current 50th State Assembly District Leader and State Committee Member Linda Minucci (Courtesy of Linda Minucci)

Linda Minucci doesn’t like the spotlight. She’s an elected official, but holds some of the most obscure positions in the Democratic Party. Minucci is a county committee member, which according to her doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

As a former delegate to the Democratic state judicial convention, she says the process essentially rubber stamps judges who run unopposed during the state judicial convention.

Currently, Minucci serves as a state committee member, also known in some neighborhoods as District Leaders, making her responsible for staffing polling locations, vetting judicial candidates, registering voters and increasing voter turnout.

Causal political observers may not know what these unpaid positions are, but Minucci says she has enjoyed volunteering for the Democratic Party in relative obscurity for the past 35 years. 

Minucci would like to continue her hold over her small Democratic fiefdom. This year, she’s fighting off young upstart, Kristina Naplatarski, for female state committee member, a position also known as female District Leader. (She’s also on the ballot as a judicial delegate.) Continue reading

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Andy Marte Hopes to Woo Moderate Democrats in Race for State Senate Seat

State Senate candidate Andy Marte on the campaign trail (Image courtesy Andy Marte)

State Senator Julia Salazar is often described politically as being left of the center; she’s a Democratic Socialist and a self-identified “Marxist.”

It’s no wonder then that her challenger, Andy Marte, has painted himself a “realist” in his bid to unseat Salazar after her first term in office. Following months of bitter campaigning, including allegations of campaign finance abuse, Marte hopes to persuade moderate Democrats in the 18th District to replace a young, left-of-center incumbent with a young, close-to-center insurgent.

Greenpointers spoke with Marte before Tuesday’s democratic primary elections about his more restrained approach to police reform, his take on mass vaccination campaigns and his ideas for creating more jobs in North Brooklyn.


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?

I was born and raised in New York and went to elementary school all the way through high school in Bushwick. I ended up at 14 years old stumbling into local Bushwick politics as an intern for the local Assembly Member, Vito Lopez. From there, when I graduated high school, I ended up at Georgetown University. 

When I graduated from Georgetown, I started working on my teacher certification. I was a substitute teacher for some time. I worked at RiseBoro, which is a social services agency in Bushwick, doing affordable housing with them. I also some time after that was a consultant for a substance abuse program in the neighborhood that also works with HIV people. My father passed away from HIV when I was young, so that was something I was very passionate about. 

Before I ran for office, I wanted to understand the three most important things to people, which were housing, healthcare and education. 

 

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Protests into Solutions

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Why are you running for State Senate?

I’m running for State Senate because the current State Senator that we have has zero experience in almost anything. There’s a leadership vacuum in our community, specifically with the State Senate seat. No one sees her at any meetings. It’s very easy to talk about philosophical and theoretical jargon, but not actually do anything concrete. 

I have a sociology background, so I understand the importance of some of the social programs that we have. But I think when you take that to an extreme of supporting Marxism and supporting Vladimir Lenin, you’re adding a whole different aspect to your politics that is not beneficial to the people that I grew up with in North Brooklyn.

There have been daily protests throughout the city against the NYPD and police brutality. Do you believe in defunding the city police? If so, how much money would you slash from its budget?

I have not seen the police’s budget. I would love to take a look at it before we determine whether we should be removing money from them. We do live in the financial capital of the world, so we do need a police force that’s capable of protecting us. 

I’ve been in the police precinct advocating that they treat people nicer, but it wasn’t until I started going to the police council meetings that I started building a relationship with the precinct and the police officers, so that they can understand that we’re people. It’s very easy for a police officer to arrest somebody, but if they know these people, then it’s a different relationship.

As someone that has also studied politics in school and on the streets, there’s been African-American men that have been getting killed every year. There’s a presidential election and all of sudden the police are being attacked. It’s a very interesting dynamic. Some of that has to do with the influences of this Communist conversation that’s coming into our community. Continue reading

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Tommy’s Tavern Protestors Condemn Alleged Racism of Owner

Kira speaking in front of Tommy’s Tavern on Thursday (Image via Ben Weiss).

More than 100 protestors gathered Thursday afternoon in front of Tommy’s Tavern (1041 Manhattan Ave.), a local dive bar on Manhattan Avenue, to condemn the owner’s recent behavior towards a black woman.

Kira, a black woman who works in Greenpoint, says that she was waiting at a bus stop across the street from the bar on June 7th when the owner, Thomas Kaminski, told her she “shouldn’t be here.” 

Kaminski bragged about how he had more money than her and yelled about ‘Black Lives Matter protests’ in his neighborhood, at one point flipping her the bird, she alleges.

“It’s obvious in Greenpoint that I’m probably the only black person I’d see for a while,” said Kira, who declined to give her last name. “But I never felt unwelcome until that day.”

She previously spoke about the altercation a week ago in McCarren Park during one of the nightly vigils in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. After returning home from the park, she decided to organize a protest in front of the bar, which Council Member Stephen Levin’s office supported.

“Racism has no place in our district and we will not stand for it,” said the Council Member in a statement.

Members of the protest were also unflinching in their criticisms of Kaminksi. Continue reading

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Senator Julia Salazar to Continue to Push for Progressive Change If Reelected

Senator Julia Salazar is running for reelection in the June 23rd primary elections. (Courtesy of Senator Julia Salazar’s office)

Less than two years ago, State Senator Julia Salazar was considered the insurgent candidate. A 27-year-old Democratic Socialist, she challenged Brooklyn’s Democratic establishment and won.

Heading into this year’s June 23rd primary, Salazar is the incumbent, mired in what’s been an acrimonious race between her and Bushwick local, Andy Marte. Both have slung allegations of campaign finance abuse at each other, and Salazar has criticized Marte for sponsoring COVID-19 antibody testing at a NYCHA development without approval from the city.

Greenpointers spoke with Senator Salazar to hear her thoughts on occupying the unfamiliar role of incumbent, the push to remedy housing insecurity in Salazar’s district and her position on police reform city and statewide.


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for State Senate?

I am the current State Senator for the 18th district. I was first elected in 2018 and I became the youngest woman in the history of New York State to be elected to the State Senate.

How does it feel to be an incumbent when the narrative of your campaign two years ago was one of insurgency? 

Because we changed the election date in order to synchronize the state primary with the presidential primary, it’s actually been less than two years since the last election. It’s been an abbreviated period. That makes it particularly strange to already be running again for State Senate. 

I am a Democratic Socialist. I am on the left of the Democratic conference in the State Senate. I am still committed to pushing for the most progressive policies and pushing for transformative change and challenging the status quo. In all those ways, I still feel like an insurgent candidate, despite being an incumbent.

There have been daily protests throughout the city against the NYPD and police brutality. Do you believe in defunding the city police?

I believe that currently the NYPD’s budget and that of many police departments across the country are inflated. We need to be thinking critically about how much public funds are given to law enforcement and then how those funds are being used.

We’ve seen in recent weeks the militarization of police departments, including the NYPD, the brutal tactics used to suppress protests, including nonviolent protests. I would fully support decreasing the NYPD budget and then using those funds in the city budget for education, for example, to hire more counselors, to reduce the number of police officers, especially in schools that predominantly have a black and brown student body.

As far as quantifying it, I’ve heard from several Council Members, a lot of them are saying a minimum of a $1 billion reduction in the budget. I fully support that. Some of them are discussing more significant cuts depending on the details. I think at minimum the city needs to reduce the NYPD budget by at least $1 billion and then transfer that accordingly to more community alternatives. 

At the state level, would you push for legislation to defund the state police and state law enforcement?

We haven’t been having rigorous conversations about this at the state level, mainly because of the way police departments are generally funded, but I would be very keen to examine what state resources are currently being allocated to law enforcement. I also want to ensure that any state or municipal resources that are currently given to law enforcement are not being used to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement.  Continue reading

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Touts Congressional Record in 2020 Reelection Campaign

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is running for reelection (Courtesy of Maloney for Congress.)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney stands by her record. She’s been in office for more than two decades and is staking her 2020 congressional reelection campaign on bills passed, rivals defeated and agencies regulated.

Maloney says that she is proud to represent New York’s 12th Congressional District, but three candidates are vying to replace her by criticizing the very record on which she runs. Her opponents—Lauren Ashcraft, Peter Harrison and Suraj Patel—have questioned Maloney’s lack of progressive bonafides, including her decision to take corporate money to fund her campaign.

With little less than a week before the June 23rd Democratic primary, Greenpointers spoke with Maloney about campaign finance regulation, her involvement in recent protests against police brutality in the city and the issues she thinks most affect North Brooklyners.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity. 


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?

I’m the mother of two wonderful daughters, and I’m a widow. I’ve been representing this district since 1992. I first ran and defeated a Republican, Bill Green. I helped change the whole east side of Manhattan from Republican to Democrat. 

Why are you running for reelection?

I believe that public service is the best job that anyone can have. If it is done honestly and done well, it can improve people’s lives. It’s my record that I’m running on. Recently, I was just endorsed by The New York Times and The New York Daily News. And I was rated number one in congressional leadership by GovTrack. 

Also, I have recently been elected by my peers to be chair of the Oversight Committee. With this position, I will have even a more powerful, stronger voice. 

Your three opponents have emphasized that they don’t take any corporate PAC money. Why do you take money from corporations?

I am the only one of the people running that has actually done anything to take corporate money out of campaigns. I am a sponsor of HR1. That bill, among other things, calls for public funding of campaigns. I am devoted to making that happen. 

When I was on the City Council, I authored and passed the best and toughest campaign finance law in the nation. Since then, the City Council has made that law even tougher.

I am the only candidate that Wall Street and big banks financed a candidate against in 2010, and she ran on the program that I was too tough on big banks and Wall Street. This was after I passed a landmark bill that President Obama signed into law called the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights. I won that race and I hope that my record in Congress continues to merit that support. 

The 12th Congressional District cuts across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. What do you think is the most pressing issue here in North Brooklyn? What do you think is most important in Greenpoint? Continue reading

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