Asian-Americans Protest Bill de Blasio Housing Homeless in their Neighborhood

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


26ELMHURSTweb2-superJumbo

Back when Queens meant Jewish and Catholic middle class residents, it became the pivot that helped move Ed Koch into the Mayor’s office  through opposition to housing projects. Koch’s shift from Village radical to liberal with sanity began there.

Liberal Lindsay and his New York City Housing Authority chairman, Simeon Golar, were met with their first demonstration in December 1966 when 30 women picketed Borough Hall. They also were met with fierce opposition led by Jerry Birnbach of the Forest Hills Residents Association. A Manhattan congressman named Ed Koch later allied himself with the protesters.

At the time, Forest Hills consisted of predominately Jewish people who had left Brooklyn and the Bronx due to prior destructive building schemes perpetrated there by Robert Moses and other city politicians. The project, planned for 108th Street and 62nd Avenue, the former site of a golf driving range, was scaled down from 24 stories and 840 units to 12 stories and 430 units by local attorney Mario Cuomo.

Koch was open about opposing the project over fears of crime and loss of property values.

Now Bill de Blasio has made housing projects into a key feature of his administration. Putting homeless people in hotels was supposed to act as a counterpart to the New York Times’ Dasiani hoax story. Instead it has resulted in another backlash in Queens.

These days Queens is much more Chinese. And they aren’t any fonder of having their neighborhood trashed than the Jews or the Italians were.

The crowd of 500 included grandmothers and small children, Chinese immigrants and the president of a local Republican club, all shouting that the mayor had trampled their rights.

The source of their anger? The 180 homeless families that New York City had moved into the defunct Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, Queens. The residents felt nervous around the new arrivals, they said. There were reports of shoplifting from the Good Fortune Supermarket, public urination and panhandling — all things, they said, that had been unheard-of in their neighborhood until now.

Those are just some of the fun things that Bill de Blasio is spreading around New York. Along with dirty campaign cash.

Because many of those opposed to using the hotel as a shelter are Chinese immigrants, the conflict has also produced discomfiting images of immigrant families and the mostly black and Latino homeless families shouting insults at one another.

It’s the same discomfiting images as before. There are immigrant groups that want to work and do well. And there are those that don’t.

Typically, the city consults extensively with local officials before opening a shelter, a process that can take up to a year. In this case, the Department of Homeless Services notified the local City Council member on the evening before the first families were moved into the hotel, and other elected officials only later. State Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, one of several officials who have criticized the city’s handling of the shelter, called the failure to notify him in advance “absolutely unacceptable and a complete dereliction of duty.”

That’s just Bill de Blasio trying to be Obama. Consulting is alien to his nature.

Rachel Lam, 33, said she believed the government was bullying Asians because they assumed Asians would be silent.

“But when it comes to our home, our children, our community, our safety, we will come out and protest,” Ms. Lam said.

“When you see them, it looks like they’re going to mug you,” Linda Chang, 50, said in Mandarin. “It makes me feel uncomfortable.”

On an evening earlier this month, many residents who live behind the hotel expressed similar fears.

Mark Gao, 32, a wok chef at a Sichuan restaurant in Manhattan, said that his wife was nervous to walk home alone at night from her restaurant job, and that he had told his nieces not to play outside without an adult.

“Why does the government want to support this group?” Mr. Gao said in Mandarin. “Why do they want to give them free money? We have to work from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

Don’t get too excited. They’re not about to start voting Republican, but…

1. They are the country’s fastest growing minority

2. And they’re a lot more likely to vote Republican once they understand that the system of social welfare is stacked against productive groups.

  • Pete

    Why piss off Chinese immigrants. I just learned there are 2 million Chinese living in Africa. Are there 2 million Americans living in Africa?

    What is my point? It is this. You might think you are getting away with something, because you have temporary local superiority. Wilhelm is part of a faction that local superiority and he is letting people know who is boss. But I believe there is a lot of power in expatriates. The Chinese immigrants can be considered expatriates of China. People back home in China and other Chinese expatriates elsewhere around the world will be upset. Maybe they will do something about it. I don’t know.

    I do know that Chinese coming to America during the Gold Rush did not consider themselves Chinese. they considered themselves Hunanese or Fujian or whatever. Only after they were discriminated against did they think of themselves as Chinese. Wlihlem and his wife are doing a lot of stomping ans azz kicking.

    The PRC is also doing QE and bailing out banks/companies. They are in some deep sh_t. They might have to rely more on expatriates and their businesses. So there might be sensitivity to what is perceived as mistreatment of ethnic Chinese. In decades gone by ethnic Chinese could be massacred in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia and the PRC ignored. This is no massacre, but the PRC might see expatriates as valuable and might see their plight as a welcome distraction.

    • DB1954

      I’d love to know the percentage of Queens’ Chinese who voted for Obama and De Blasio.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        you can see an area voting results map here

        http://www.nytimes.com/projects/elections/2013/general/nyc-mayor/map.html

        you can compare it to an ethnic map here

        http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/01/23/nyregion/20110123-nyc-ethnic-neighborhoods-map.html

        It would appear a large percentage, voter turnout however was fairly low and Bill de Blasio was smart about not scaring off any minorities, but now he’s reverting to Dinkins behavior

        • Pete

          You can’t tell which ethic groups voted D or R unless they are the majority ethic group in the area.

          Pretty much all the Hispanic and black areas voted D. That would probably depend on income and inertia/habit.

          Queens looks red (Hispanic) and it voted blue (Democrat).
          But you are probably right, minorities in general probably voted D the first go around after listening to the lies.

  • DogmaelJones1

    “…public urination and panhandling….” But, don’t you know, these are just cultural practices that shouldn’t be frowned upon or opposed. There’s that “racism” built into all those Asian-Americans. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response? “Let’s send in more of those homeless, just to punish those snooty middle class yobs. Let’s lay down a siege on them with our dependable parasites and put the fear of socialism in them. Try and stop me. That’s the Obama way.”

  • E Cha

    I want to comment on some of the news coverage of this protest especially the NY Times articles of July 25, 2014 re: Asian American protesting Housing Homeless in their Neighborhood, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/26/nyregion/homeless-shelters-opening-in-queens-stirs-ugly-exchanges.html, is trying to stir up ethnic conflict especially anti-Chinese American sentiment. The Chinese-American community in Elmhurst is especially vulnerable to this selective “translation”/”reporting”. Even though several different groups participated in these protests, among them the Elmhurst Block Association, Hotel Chinese Association of New York, Chinese Cultural Arts Association, Malaysia Association of America, Filipino Association of America and Newton Civic Association, etc., the article highlights the Chinese-American participation. From photos of the protest, I observed protesters who appeared to be non-East Asian, probably Hispanic, Indian or Bengali. Furthermore Filipino and Malaysian as well as other East Asian ethnic groups participating in these protest, would be indistringuishable from Chinese to the unknowing eye. Moreover no attempt was made to record other participating ethnic groups opinions in this article.

    And although one sentence in the NY Times article mentioned many of the speakers spoke about “practical issues, like the neighborhood’s overcrowded schools, and pointed out there were other shelters and adult homes nearby…”, the article then emphasizes a few interviews to characterize the opinions of the majority of protesters on-site with a implied suggestion that some of the NY Times reporters are sufficiently fluent in Mandarin Chinese; e.g. “When you see them, it makes you feel they’re going to mug you,” Linda Chang 50, said in Mandarin, “It makes me feel uncomfortable.” and “Why does the government want to support this group?”, Mr Gao said in Mandarin, “Why do they want to give them free money? We have to work from 11 AM to 11 PM.” Unfortunately this fluency in Mandarin is not impartial. Many of the protesters were carrying Chinese-only signs, the majority stating that this area already had three homeless shelters / adult homes; with the addition of the Pan Am Hotel, it would make it the fourth such site. I wonder why some of these signs were not translated in the New York Times article by the fluent Mandarin speaking NY Times reporters.

    The Chinese-American press including diverse political leanings such as the Epoch Times, the NY Singtao News, the World Journal carried a much more nuanced reporting of these protests. However even this nuance can be manipulated by the clever race-baiter. For example a comment in the http://therealdeal.com/blog/2014/07/01/elmhurst-residents-boo-homeless-at-pan-am-shelter-meeting/ suggested the Chinese protesters should be more sympathetic to the “descendants of slaves [who] have been hosting Chinese immigrants en route to American green cards…” and then emphasized the racial
    element of the protest in a link to a NY Singtao newspaper report. Well I can read Chinese, so besides seeing able to observe the photos in the article (which interestingly enough showed multiracial participants including Blacks, Whites, etc., listening to Chinese-American speakers in one of the hearings preceding the protests), the content of the article itself doesn’t suggest any racial animosity to the homeless newcomers. Again surprisingly, the NY Times with it’s Mandarin-fluent reporters chose not to make any mention of the Chinese-American coverage of these protests. Alas race-baiting still has a purpose!

    I originally hoped to write a comment to the NY Times article; but as with so many other controversial articles, the NY Times did not have a comment section for this one. An editiorial was also out of the question as it probably wouldn’t be printed. What is shocking is the attempt by the NY Times to silence over 1000 protestors who protested on multiple occassions by fanning racial animosity.
    Hopefully when I have more spare time, I will try to translate some of the more nuanced articles from the Chinese-American press into English to give more balance and a better understanding of what is really going on.

    • Ed

      Enen so screw the NY Times and the progressives. The Chinese residents have every right to protest and use whatever words they like. Being non-PC gets things done. The minute they become soft the progressives will just run right over them.

    • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

      I used to sit next to a Korean-American colleague (MIT grad) who used to complain to me that the New York Times was anti-Korean. I must admit that he had some good but subtle examples.

      He was puzzled at the Times’ hostility. My theory was that Koreans refute leftist theory. The left claim that blacks (unlike Jews) can’t pass for whites and racism keeps them down. Koreans refute the left’s racism theory. As do Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese boat people. Worse of all, the Times can’t blame these groups for slavery. Damn, what’s a leftist to do when hardworking minorities expect their achievement to be respected?

    • liz

      Yes, it appears the Left is quite selective in their multicultural sensitivities.

    • E Cha

      Update on what’s been going on. Fortunately, the World Journal ( a Chinese American newspaper based in NYC normally written in Chinese) has an English translation of the sentiments of the Elmhurst community to the homeless shelter. it’s at http://www.worldjournal.com/view/full_eng_14/25572795/article-Community-Reacts-to-Media-Coverage-and-Officials–Responses-to-Shelter-Protests?instance=wjeng_comm.
      In case the link doesn’t work here is the article:
      Originated from August 1, 2014 World Journal.
      Community Reacts to Media Coverage and Officials’ Responses to Shelter Protests
      by New York Reporters Philia Li and Rachel Liu /Translated by Jack Chen
      08.07.14 – 11:01 am
      The Elmhurst Chinese community’s response to Koo and Chin’s letter, as well as the homeless themselves, has been nuanced and often in wild contrast. Some have taken exception to their letter, charging them with not understanding the situation since neither has attended the protest events in person.

      One member of the community believes that Koo and Chin’s New York Times open letter, which included some charged statements from protesters who only make up a minority of the protests, inaccurately represented them. But the news and spin value from the story came in giving life to this component, an opportunity which the council members took together with the newspaper. During the second gathering of the protest, a public hearing was also held which could not accommodate all of them. With homeless in the hotel also hurling abuse, protesters became angry and responded in kind. The man believes that the people’s anger towards the city government has been miscast as a conflict between the Chinese and the homeless, unfairly defaming them.

      Ms. Zhu, a local community board member, feels disappointed in the two council members, who she feels based their open letter mostly on reading the July 26 New York Times report on the protest. “[They should be taking more of a look at other media reports,]” she said. She feels that if Koo and Chin understood the protesters’ real goals and intentions, they would support them.

      Another Elmhurst resident condemned what she believed to be some of the media’s deliberate exaggeration of the protests, leading to misunderstandings. She said that Astoria had recently faced a similar situation with parallel protests and community resistance, which wasn’t covered nearly the same way by the mainstream press. Still another local said that while Koo and Chin represent some mainstream ideas and a forward-thinking attitude, the residents’ feelings and concerns also need to be respected. “[Even if you don’t support us, you can stay quiet, and avoid using such an open letter on the topic.]” Given that the Times article’ mentions the general objections and resistance local communities have to homeless shelters, the Elmhurst community’s stance isn’t out of the ordinary, a fact which should be considered and accounted for by the city council members.

      One Elmhurst resident took an entirely different approach to the shelter and its residents. Zhongsheng Lin organized a barbecue on Saturday, July 26 to welcome shelter residents, representatives from the Mayor’s office and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the nearby Samaritan Village. Though none of the organizational representatives showed up, nearly 300 community members and homeless enjoyed the afternoon together.

      “[I always thought about the children hiding behind the hotel windows during the protest],” said Mr. Lin. A member of the nearby Newtown Church, Lin wanted to dispel some of the misunderstandings and conflict between some of the community’s Chinese residents and shelter dwellers with the barbecue, but the days following showed that his efforts were not wholly successful.

      The former Pan-American Hotel is now host to 216 homeless families, totaling more than 600 people. Lin says that the homeless he encounters from the shelter often confuse him for a protester, initially subjecting him to hostility. “[I feel bad about this, because this kind of misunderstanding creates hatred and chaos.]” He says he has continually attempted to connect with the protesters, trying to persuade them that immigrant families should not feel threatened by these homeless families. He also blames the city government for causing the crisis, which has escalated into racist and other concerns, while also believing that the community should learn more about the issue. He believes, as most do, that local residents were entitled to know about the relocation, but that it isn’t a matter of the homeless being forced on them as a kind of mistreatment – neighboring Glendale, with mostly white residents, will also open a homeless shelter. Lin also says that there is no immediate evidence to support the common perception of these shelters as a source of crime. Elmhurst’ crime rates remain among New York City’s lowest, though not nearly enough time has passed since the shelter’s establishment to accrue any meaningful data. Mr. Lin also likely did not know that Glendale had held public hearings well before the Pan-American hotel’s conversion, in which residents there suggested that the DHS establish its shelter in Elmhurst instead.

      Koo’s office, meanwhile, admitted that the language in its open letter could have been better, while re-iterating the importance of protesters choosing their words carefully so as to not inflame the existing conflict. Koo, who is currently in Taiwan, stressed the special sensitivity of western media towards remarks or attitudes which carry a tone of racism – a reason for Chinese residents to be more cautious and discerning. It is natural for many media outlets to focus on the negative, which creates more of a stir and therefore attention and readership, Koo said. Before leaving New York, he said that city officials expressed regret at not giving advanced notice to Elmhurst residents about the shelter. But that didn’t happen, and for now, the protests and conflict continues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 aemoreira81

    A lot of this post will sound local, but I need to describe it as such, as I know the area as well.

    The relevant structure – the Pan American Hotel – is on a pretty desolate and light industrial stretch of Queens Boulevard (around Hillyer Street if you want to look at a map – it’s 7900 Queens Boulevard). Now, on the issue of the homeless, this has been a major problem for the city for years. The Crowne Plaza by JFK Airport was previously a homeless shelter before the shelter got run out of there…and it’s not the only one near JFK Airport if my suspicions are right (I believe that there is one near the DMV on Rockaway Boulevard just before Guy R. Brewer Boulevard). In the case of the neighborhood, that hotel isn’t exactly in the neighborhood, although it’s a short walk from it; the neighborhood is really centered along (Queens) Broadway (between Roosevelt Avenue and Queens Boulevard, and there are houses across the street on the 51 Avenue side.The real impetus, however, is that the hotel building owner wants to make money instead of having the building sit vacant.

    (The author probably knows where these places are; I’m putting in the reference points for others.) I do wish that the author took pictures of the area though; it would have bolstered the argument…some things cannot be described in words. The hotel’s not too far from the Grand Avenue (M)(R) station – where Queens Boulevard and 51 Avenue meet – Hillyer Street is the other side of the triangle.

  • DB1954

    When you see them, and they make you feel like they’re going to mug you, it’s because they are.

  • Pete Franklin

    I’m always amazed at people who complain about things they voted for. While the Asian vote for DiBlasio may have been lower than usual, Asian’s still vote overwhelmingly democrat. They don’t seem to care when forced integration policies effect my neighborhood and family, but when it happens to them, they want us to support their cause. Stop voting for democrat and forced integration will stop as well.

    • PinoyAvenger

      Di Blasio won by a landslide, there wasn’t much of a choice. Besides its New York.

  • William de Blasio

    How about a little equal time here? I am working very hard to bring about change…
    .

  • dusel1

    Does every nation contain hyphenated citizens?

  • dusel1

    An illegal alien POS POTUS usurping White House cockroach does all things illegally.