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

Black Seed Bagels will Reopen on Elizabeth Street Next Month

One month after an early-morning fire ripped through the original Black Seed Bagels in Little Italy, the business is on the mend. And might reopen sooner than initially expected. As in next month. On March 7, a fire sparked on-premise and knocked out the whole bagel operation. Firefighters were successful in extinguishing the blaze and […]

Tsaôcaa & Bào Bubble Tea Spot Opens on Ludlow Street

Three months after the Thai ice creamery, Juicy Spot, faded from Ludlow Street, another snack shop is now operational. This time, the M.O. is all things bubble tea. Tsaôcaa & Bào recently opened at 109 Ludlow, just north of Delancey Street. It describes itself as a bubble tea business that “strives for ultimate freshness and […]

Time is Short for the Longtime Subway Florist of 14th Street

With the rebranded L train “slowdown” one day away, time is slim for the longtime subway florist on 14th Street. Our roving photographer – Lower East Side native Robert Carmona – caught up with the subterranean peddler last month to learn the latest. Periklis Tsoumas, who has been at the 1st Avenue and 14th Street […]

Report: Tenement Museum Workers Unionize

The front-facing staff of the Tenement Museum, after many failed attempts throughout the years, have finally agreed to unionize. A vote was held last week in which all education, retail, and visitor services employees mobilized to join Local 2110 UAW (United Auto Workers). The measure passed by a 96% margin. The vote was spurred by […]

Sunshine Cinema Signage Carted Away

Sunshine, sunset, swiftly goes the demolition. Indeed, no sooner did the sidewalk bridge appear at 141 East Houston Street than workers deposed the Sunshine Cinema neon lettering. We’re told that a van carted the signage away yesterday. Co-owner-developer East End Capital did not return our request about the fate of the letters. Meanwhile, the demolition […]