Is the Mayor Honoring Sun Yat-Sen to Neutralize Opposition to Proposed Chinatown Jail? [Op-Ed]

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 at 5:03 am by

The following editorial was written by vociferous Chinatown activist Karlin Chan.

In a shameless display of “carrot dangling,” councilwoman Margaret Chin arranged for Mayor de Blasio to visit Chinatown during the Lunar New Year celebration last week (February 5). While delivering the usual New Year greetings, he announced two specific honors for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen: the eight-year-old statue in Columbus Park would become permanent and the northern section of the park would be renamed for the founding father of the Republic of China. Purportedly a way of honoring the contributions of the Chinese in New York City.

Was this the “community benefit” Margaret Chin had been touting? Or was this another lame idea to smooth over community opposition to the proposed Chinatown jail?

The setting for this farce was the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), the group which is vehemently opposed to the jail. Did she think that Chinatown would accept the proposed prison in exchange for a statue? Or was this possibly a veiled threat to the CCBA that if they didn’t play along with the proposed jail, the renaming of Columbus Park’s northern section would be pulled?

In hindsight, Mayor de Blasio, who I feel is anti-Chinese, had never visited Chinatown during his tenure until opposition to the proposed jail at 125 White Street became an issue. Nor has he ever really shown concern for the wellbeing of NYC’s Chinese/Asian population. Never once has he publicly condemned racist graffiti or possible hate crimes; he balked at a school holiday for the Lunar New Year until legislation was passed in Albany. Why the sudden change of heart?

Then again, neither has Margaret Chin until the recent attack at a Chinese restaurant in Sheepshead Bay that left 3 employees dead. (Uncharacteristically, Chin took the lead in a neighborhood rally in front of the restaurant which was boycotted by NYC’s Chinese community save a handful; de Blasio also issued a short statement.)

The closing of Rikers Island, and the incoming community-based jails plan, has come under increasing scrutiny across the Five Boroughs. Not just here in Chinatown. Community activists and civic organizations in Kew Gardens, Mott Haven, and Brooklyn are in opposition to proposed neighborhood sites. Even former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was critical of the high-rise mega-jails; his Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform had called for smaller facilities, not the 1,500 sizes that de Blasio wants.

So, for now, the game continues with the recently formed NAC meetings fully stocked with Chin cronies, while the councilwoman continues to tell the community that opposing the jail is useless because it’s a done deal.

Recent Stories

City Honors Sun Yat-Sen with Plaza and Permanent Statue in Columbus Park

Mayor de Blasio, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and other politicians this week dedicated a slice Chinatown’s Columbus Park to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. This past Tuesday, what would have been the 153rd birthday of the founding father of China, also marked the return of the bronze statue after the city excavated a new permanent home. The area […]

Enter the ‘Lion’s Den’ with Lee Quinones on Delancey

An iconic handball mural from one of the local greats is again on display. Strolling down Delancey Street this past week, you may have noticed the fifteen-foot replica of Lee Quinones‘ “Lion’s Den” mural. It’s fastened to the facade of the James Fuentes Gallery as part of his one-man show there. The “Lion’s Den” dates […]

Essex Crossing Adjacent Properties on Ludlow Street Fetch $12M

Change may soon come to the Chinese food wholesaler at 89-91 Ludlow Street. The dual property just changed hands this month for $12.3 million. Buyer of record is an LLC linked to Brooklyn’s Xiaoling Huang. The two parcels in question, comprising a three-story commercial building and the adjacent lot where wholesaler C&L Restaurant Supply currently […]

LES School Again Raising Money to Buy Thanksgiving Turkeys for its Students in Need

For the second year in a row, the folks at P.S. 140 Nathan Straus School are giving back to the community this Thanksgiving. This time, the PTA is doubling down, aiming to donate 200 turkeys to students and their families in need for the upcoming holiday. So far, $540 of the $4,000 goal has been […]

‘Country Of’ Boutique Delivers Vintage Ephemera to Essex Street

Retail veterans of the Hester Fair continue to pollinate vacant storefronts on the other side of the street. Two in just the last few weeks, in fact. Partybus Bakeshop soft-opened on Tuesday. Down the block, Country Of also joins the fray. Country Of is a small pop-vintage boutique which took over the short-lived Cafe Grumpy […]