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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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45 Comments

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jim

Van Bramer is a pandering fool. He recently apologized for his “white privilege” . I wanted to puke. This type of politician and those that share his views are turning this city back into a cesspool. Why the immediate reference and defense of people of color? Antisocial behavior is unacceptable regardless of what color you are. Stop the liberal crap.

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Do Better

I’ve noticed the LIC Post has a habit of removing reasonable comments that attack no one and use polite language. It’s a sad statement on the quality of your staff. Do better.

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Zelfa

Wow . That park has been there for years and has now been established. The buildings poped up after . This is racist. The residents who choose to pay $3,000 and higher rent knew there was a public park there . Queens is a very diverse neighborhood . I can’t believe this is happening here. Its a beautiful view. Security can’t do much anyways. Move out if you don’t like it.

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T

Gantry Park hours are 8am-10pm. They are posted and not followed. If everyone wants to come and enjoy the park and share it with others, awesome! If people want to come and light fireworks until 4am and drive up and down the street with loud music then, yeah that is a problem. Your comment is divisive and treats the people that live here (some for decades) as outsiders. You are no better than the people that scream build the wall.

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LIC resident

I live in this area and worked hard to afford a nice place and from where I’m standing it’s mostly Latin men who are partying throughout the night.. riding their motorcycles on the sidewalks and trashing this beautiful park. We in the neighborhood are tired of all the noise and constant music and we have a right to live here without having to deal with this shit

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Makes No sense

See how Van Bramer says in his tweet that there is a pandemic and a national race problem. He indicates that the park problems are therefore not that important and we are a bunch of rich racists. Strange how he has time to focus on this but not all the crap on the waterfront. I guess he thinks this gets him votes. Think again! People are fed up with him and his sidekick Matt Wallace.
https://www.amny.com/opinion/op-ed-new-yorkers-cant-wait-for-pedestrian-paths-on-queensboro-bridge-to-open-any-longer/

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Héctor

Wonder is the residences who launched the online petition have visited the park at midnight and see what’s going on, we love to welcome everyone to come to the park and have a good time but no to make noise with a DJ and drinking and smoking and leaving all the garbage for the park to clean, is getting out of control, we have to have a better plan for next Summer

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LIC / Astoria Resident

Common social norms and adherence to basic rules have been forgotten by many of our citizens. This has nothing to do with race or wealth. It is plain and simple. It is about quality of life. We need community engagement with the right balance of law and order.

FYI – Same issues occur in Astoria Park.

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Tim

Considering the diversity of people around the area, I am sure there are all different colors of folks doing things on the water front parks that they should not be doing in public. Many may be those who would be hanging out in bars and getting wasted, but now do it in parks. And where are the cops? They have a station just down the street.

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A LIC resident

The police are a joke. I actually called them the other night due to a disturbance outside my window at 3:00 a.m. and I was put on hold with them automated answering system. Continuous fire works, music coming so loud from cars that my apartment vibrates on the 12th floor, hoodlum zoo in the park drinking and smoking marijuana and not wearing masks. People riding motorcycles on the sidewalks and in the park. The unregulated disgusting food trucks where are their health stickers? There is a red Empanada truck That has been parked on the corner of 50th avenue and center boulevard for over 3 months and has not moved. How can the government choose to turn such a blind eye? What are you waiting for? Someone to get killed?

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Hunterspoint

The private security detail is unnecessary because once it was announced, the police actually showed up, so in that sense, the initiative worked. Private security is not the solution.

With respect to Ms Diaz, calls of racism are tone deaf, specious, and counterproductive.

There are all kinds of people in the park, that is a great thing. Come and see.

But the hooligans aren’t welcome, leaving garbage, never wearing masks, partying, destroying public property, the list goes on.

Everybody has a right to enjoy the park. That means the police need to do their job.

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Anonymous

Solution : Just hire the Guardian Angels. They will come for free! Curtis will be running for Mayor so he needs the LIC voters on his side.LOL

I live in LIC and I don’t mind it . nothing bad is going on its just some people get very uptight they think they own the whole park ! F***k them , Move out if you don’t like a little noise !!

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Chris

Well unfortunately for us that live along the park, that’s becoming the only solution. So f*** me then. But understand that this more than “a little noise.”

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John

What’s wrong with security, if you’re not doing anything wrong and respecting the law, you have nothing to worry about.

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Li

A resident, I take, and took, photos of crowds milling at and near the twelve food and ice cream trucks massed at the Center Blvd. waterfront. When the Parks Department franchise, Coffeed beer hall closes, and the bars close, and during nighttime, all night, crowds mill about. The garbage bins are overfilled, and the State workers, heros all, fill many black bags each am by hand, from the pavement. We need night patrols, and to close bars early. Please get the food trucks to clean overnight as well. There are sanitation and health department laws, yes?

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Anonymous

So quality of life doesn’t matter because pandemics, racism, budget crisis? What do we pay the cops for?

At the waterfront any noise travels. Yeah, lose those paying the outrageous rents for tall buildings JVB allowed in rezoning and claimed he ‘developed’ the neighbourhood.

Sincerely disappointed by JVB – good thing he doesn’t stand for reelection

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Frank

This is a safety issue. Go on the Citizen app and see how much overnight crime has increased in this neighborhood. I agree that if the NYPD were allowed to do their jobs and if our worthless Councilman weren’t advocating the defunding of the NYPD, this would not be necessary. Keep in mind that the park is technically closed overnight, so no one should be there, let alone shooting off fireworks, drinking, and fighting.

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Gardens Watcher

Back in the day, our councilman would have responded promptly to the initial emails and calls, and called and/or met with the 108th precinct captain to discuss. No mention of that happening here. Now all we get is a long tweet and a suggestion for a Community Zoom with the Parks Commissioner.

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Ramona

I am a person of color, it has nothing to do with color or wealth, it is about quality of life. The loud music the garbage the motor bikes..the drinking and fights.

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Elaine

This is absurd. I’ve read all the tweets and facebook messages about this, and NEVER saw any mention of RACE OR INCOME. IT IS NOT RACIAL. NO ONE SHOULD BE IN THE PARKS AFTER 10pm FOR ANY REASON. THE police ignore the problem. IT IS A SECURITY ISSUE. THE SECURITY FIRM WILL JUST ASK THE PEOPLE TO LEAVE. YOUR ARE MAKING IT A RACIAL ISSUE BY INSINUATING THAT IT IS RACIAL ISSUE.

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Anonymous

While people’s concerns for hiring a private security firm are valid, the main reason people are even considering this is because they feel totally abandoned by Jimmy Van Bramer and any other elected officials who are in charge of this region. The main concerns are overblown but when people feel they have no other option because they’re being completely ignored, they take matters into their own hands. WAKE UP JIMMY VAN BRAMER! YOU IGNORE SOME IN YOUR COMMUNITY AND ONLY LISTEN TO OTHERS!! THAT IS WHAT WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT!

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LIC Common Sense

So just to be clear – JVB is more concerned with protecting criminals from citizens then protecting citizens from criminals. What a clown!

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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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Migroschrott

Let me guess, none of these “petitioners” actually live by the waterfront. The ones that do live there pay a pretty penny for the privilege to enjoy a nice neighborhood that is now being destroyed by punks that don’t live there. I’d like to see the petitioners have their own neighborhood destroyed by others and see how they like it. – Mind you, private security wouldn’t be necessary if police would actually do their jobs. But I guess that would then be racist and discriminating too if the perps that end up being arrested turn out to be minorities. Seriously, that PC nonsense has to stop already! Whoever breaks the law needs to get arrested, whether they’re minorities or not. It’s not a difficult concept.

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LIC Mom

If the police did their part, there would be no need for private security. The one’s against private security most likely do not live in the area. Fireworks, loud music, drag racing, loud motorcycles riding in the park after hours is what is happening in the park. I live on a high floor and hear the ruckus at 1am.

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Chris

We all deserve to be safe. Thank you Yolanda and to the organizers. Hopefully when the NYPD starts doing their JOBS again, there will be no need for security.

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LICGreg

I hear you Chris…but DeBlasio won’t allow them to actually do their job. If they do, they will go to jail.

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do your job

That’s such a load of bull crap. No one is stopping the nypd from doing their job. The police have decided on a work slow down because their feelings are hurt that people are calling them out for violating the rights of citizens. boo hoo, woe is me. do the job that WE pay you to do. Crime is up due, in part, to the nypd.

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Anonymous

No one is stopping them?? You are truly delusional and willfully ignorant of the realities of being a police officer in NYC and the world of blm

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NYC Mom

More like Dumblasio telling them or not allowing them to do their jobs!! They began to slack once the whole BLM started. Now don’t say that I’m a racist, because I am NOT. Yes, there are some bad cops but not all. If Dumblasio allowed them to do their jobs, they could ticket those in the park after hours. No need to arrest them, put on choke hold, etc. People are just becoming lawless and not respecting authority.

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James

The people coming into that neighborhood are not from the community and these liberals need to wake up. Everyone loves to throw out the race card when it’s actually not racism. That word has lost its meaning because it’s just thrown out there whenever someone disagrees with others. People pay a lot to be in that area and be safe and have a right to do so.

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Anonymous captain

So what’s the solution? Let people trash the place and create an unsafe environment because they maybe minorities. Sorry I don’t think so. I don’t care whose making the park a disaster, it has to stop.

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Merman

Just yesterday around 12pm I saw 15-20 construction workers in orange vests on their lunch break all smoking marijuana sitting in the grove of trees just behind where the above picture was taken. This is unacceptable on many levels, but Jimmy…how is wealthy people funding private security to patrol public parks any worse than the law breaking that is happening 24/7 in Gantry and you have done NOTHING about it for months? Maybe you are giving us more reason to support a pro-capitalist government because well, you don’t fix anything…but money sure does!

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Me

Jimmy van b has a nice private park to relax in Sunnyside gardens ,,must be nice to relax knowing you don’t have to deal with this on your own doorstep

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Paul

As I accurately stated on the other post, the trash, litter, disregard for quality of life, homelessness, public drinking, illegal racing, urination, drugs are a dream for the progressive party.

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once a kid in queens

i was a kid here. i went and did kid things in parks (some of them were *gasp* not legal).

sometimes (often), when we were out of hand THE POLICE SHOWED UP, and shut it down. sometimes arrests were made, sometimes they weren’t.

if the “private security” is just going to call the police, why not just use the public security that’s already coming out of our taxes?

the real question is, if this is a frequent issue, and it has been brought to the attention of the police, why isn’t this area being patrolled?

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BK

Defund the police. Hire private security to do the job the police are supposed to do. Hahahaha. This city is a joke. Mall security isn’t going to do anything to keep idiots from destroying this neighborhood, they HAVE NO REAL AUTHORITY!! Take your money and throw it out the window! This neighborhood, queens, and the whole city is headed for a dangerous change.

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Paraya

The new normal: “getting people to behave with decency is racist.” People who call everything and everyone that goes against them “racist” need to get over themselves. Otherwise they’ll be taken less and less seriously.

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Mer

100%. And the narrative that white culture should not be the accepted norm needs to end. Generally speaking look at historically and predominantly white cultures. Until the last 10 years they flourished. And we know what slowed the flourishing. But just think of something like Swiss watches and imagine something like that coming out of any country in Africa. Never gonna happen

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Rachel

Wow, Mer, that is EXTREMELY racist. Are you a white nationalist? Because what you wrote is the same as their rhetoric.

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LIC since 09

Mer is probably a bot with his 5000+ likes. I do however agree that the waterfront is turning into a lawless zone. People living in their neighborhoods have the right to decide and to take action on how their quality of life is impacted. I 100% support the police, provate security and any other apparatus that brings sanity and calm back to GSP. I walk down there at night sometimes, and are amazed at how it’s changed over the past few years.

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