Thursday, December 9, 2010

Willets Point in multi-agency sweep; press conference today

From the Willets Point Defense Committee (WPDC is not affiliated with Willets Point United)

Marco Neira 347-657-3915
Sergio Aguirre 347-998-4338

Several city agencies have come to Willets Point this morning on December 8, 2010 with the order to close down small businesses. EDC promised they won’t do anything there without letting the tenants know in advance.

The Willets Point Defense Committee is thinking of possible actions in regarding to this abuse.

CM Julissa Ferreras Issues Statement on Raid at Willets Point
Descries “harassment” and “aggressive” tactics in sweep of businesses

In response to the City’s multi-agency raid on Willets Point, local Council Member Julissa Ferreras released the following statement:

“I am deeply disturbed by the City’s action today in holding a multi-agency sweep through Willets Point. I have a number of questions that must be answered.

First of all, why did the City choose to do this now, when we are in the midst of negotiations between business owners and city agencies? Local businesses have long been promised that their removal from the area will be slow and measured, and that they will be compensated for relocation. An aggressive sweep through the area accompanied by dozens of police only serves to reinforce the fears of these struggling small businesspeople that they will be summarily evicted.

Secondly, I have been given to understand that the purpose of the MARCH was to catch car thieves and ‘chop shops’ that allegedly operate in the district. However, arrests have been made for offenses unrelated to these felonies, namely of customers driving without licenses, or for code violations that are normally ticketed or require at most a desk appearance.

The action today smacks of overly aggressive harassment aimed at shutting down businesses that are already preparing to relocate. Some longstanding business owners in Willets Point are undocumented aliens: their arrest for non-criminal business activity will now expose them to the real possibility of deportation if they are sent to Rikers.

I therefore question the intent of this action and demand to know if the arrests that were made match the reasons that were originally stated for the raid, or if those reasons were just a screen for a general crackdown on business in the area. The timing of this operation was also terrible, in that this is the holiday season, and my office has been working very hard to facilitate open dialogue between all parties.

I am trying to obtain information from the NYPD regarding the planning of this operation and number of people arrested. I will work on behalf of the people of my community to assure that justice is done.”

There will be a Press conference organized by the Willets Point Defense Committee today, December 9th at 11:30 pm at Willets Point Blvd and 37th Ave.

The WPDC is made up of small businesses and workers from the Willets Point area.

Workers and tenants of Willets Point will be joined by Council Member Julissa Ferreras and Urban Justice Center.

The press conference is to denounce the government abuse and to reject the brutal raid and closing of the several car repair workshops and the arrest of 15 workers and tenants including the Vice President of the Willets Point Defense Committee Tirso Mier by the police occurred on Wednesday, December 8, 2010.

About 200 police officers arrived in more than 50 vehicles and blocked roads and prevented from entering the area anyone for more than 6 hours. Several local and states agencies such as NYPD, DOB, Auto Crime, IPR, etc created a climate of fear never seen before in Willets Point.

This operation targets a group of low-income workers who are mostly Latino immigrants who are struggling to continue working in the area and now trying to find the way to relocate in a new site before the city displace them from their workplaces.

Date: Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time: 11:30 am

Location: Willets Point Blvd & 37 Ave
Next to Mets Citi Field, Corona NY 11368