Challenging the new voting machines, ensuring the community gets if fair share of the new casino at Aqueduct, continuing to speak out against racial hatred and police brutality are the top concerns the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP is following.
They challenge New York State on the effectiveness of the new voting machines. Their concerns involve machines which do not alert voters if there is an error. The group hopes to provide training for the Southeast Queens community on how to properly use these machines especially since a key voting block in the area contains a large senior population.
The Aqueduct Casino project is the largest effort in the community since the building of Rochdale Village. The Branch wants to ensure the community gets not only the burden of the new casino but the benefits which include jobs and decision making power. There is concern that most of the decision making body comes from the Howard Beach community with no representation from the neighboring Southeast Queens communities. As Aqueduct is most likely a prelude to changes at Belmont, the group feels it is important to set the stage now. They are arranging a protest on July 27th at 6:30 at Aqueduct’s main entrance on Rockaway Boulevard.
Racial hatred remains a key issue fueled by recent events within the Tea Party organization. However, it’s not just about the Tea Party but the dangerous atmosphere of divisive talk that is fueling political discourse. Phrases like “take our country back” negate contributions that communities of color have made and the notion that America is one country. A Washington DC protest is set for October 2nd and will include labor unions, civic organizations and like minded individuals to protest on this issue.
The Branch continues to fight against police brutality and have recently taken on a case where there is alleged brutality and unfair practices involved. The last meeting fielded an intense discussion on the practice of Stop and Frisk which continues to play out negatively in the community, with many sharing their own horror stories. The branch is considering giving similar training to adults that is given to teens on what do when stopped by the police. They also acknowledge a certain amount of education may be needed for community officers.
There have been several charges leveled against Ron Barfield, the Department of Education’s parent advocate, for disparaging remarks including the repeated use of the n-word. As a result the Branch will make efforts to remove Mr. Barfield from his position.
As the election season heats us, the Branch plans to sponsor an candidate forum on September 2. The NAACP Jamaica Branch is located at 189-26 Linden Boulevard. Meetings are open to both members and non-members.