On Saturday, August 27th, the entire town participated in the –March for Maspeth– protest through the streets of our town. The march began at the Holiday Inn Express hotel near Maurice Avenue, the site of the proposed 220-bed homeless shelter. The peaceful but loud march which by an NYPD count stood at 1,820 residents, proceeded through the streets of Maspeth highlighted by an up and down swing of Grand Avenue.
Leading with a banner that read –Solutions Not Shelters– they closed down Grand Avenue, 69th Street, 53rd Drive and 63rd Street. Protesters were extremely angry that once again the only elected official to show up was State Senator Tony Avella, a representative of communities on the other side of Queens. Our Councilwoman, Elizabeth Crowley, State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblywoman Marge Markey were all no-shows.
The march continued swinging past no-show Marge Markey’s office and house on 69th Street. She wouldn’t attend the protests, so the protest was brought to her doorstep. In total, protesters marched over 5 miles that ended with speeches at the hotel.
“The people of Maspeth showed Mayor de Blasio and our own elected officials that we are not going to tolerate this blatant attack and war on the middle class, certainly not in Maspeth. We will do everything possible to save Maspeth,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. Many also suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. “Given NYC’s inability to treat this segment of the population it’s a recipe for disaster to warehouse them in hotel rooms in a large facility. There’s no doubt that this will have a huge negative impact on Maspeth’s quality of life,” said Holden.
Follow up events are scheduled to protest outside Gracie Mansion, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley’s home, and outside the home of Harshad Patel, who is making a pretty penny by converting his hotel into a shelter.