Queens Community Leaders Denounce Assemblyman David Weprin, Call For Resignation

South Asian and Latino Alliance for Justice and Empowerment denouncing Assemblyman David Weprin’s alleged "retaliation"
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Photos: Wikimedia Commons\NY State Assembly\LinkIn

The following statement was released by the South Asian and Latino Alliance for Justice and Empowerment denouncing Assemblyman David Weprin’s alleged "retaliation and refusal to let community leaders speak out against hate crimes rally in their community and his revocation of help for needy Queens residents."

Here is their statement on Assemblyman Weprin:

At a rally organized today (Sunday) at the Gurdwara Sikh Temple Society, 9526 118th Street, South Richmond Hill, NY 11419, to condemn the recent hate crimes committed against Nirmal Singh, a visiting Sikh, which caused him lacerations, pain and swelling, Assemblyman David Weprin denied long time community leader and the first elected South Asian District Leader, Albert Baldeo, his fundamental right to free speech, and to participate in the rally.

South Asian District Leader Albert Baldeo

After suppressing Baldeo’s basic rights, a reporter demanded that Baldeo be allowed to ask his question. Weprin said, “this man is running against me,” as an excuse, and continued to deny Baldeo’s participation. Baldeo later clarified that his question was on behalf of several concerned citizens, as to why the police failed to visit the crime scene immediately, despite several urgent reports being made that a man had been viciously attacked, was bleeding, and was the victim of a hate crime, updates on arrests, and whether response times and police relationships can be improved in the community.

David Weprin’s attack on veteran community activist Baldeo was inappropriate-and unacceptable. His reason for excluding a bona fide community leader reflects the same hate and prejudice everyone was there to condemn, especially since Weprin denied him twice, over objections from everyone, and felt compelled to humiliate and exclude an advocate who has every right to run for office, and who came to support the rally’s stand against hate crimes. “Hate has no place in our community, whatever form it takes,” the Sikh leaders said, most of whom have worked with Baldeo on many issues, including hate crimes, throughout his long activism.

Baldeo also confirmed that several homeless and needy people in his community he was trying to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, were rescinded from receiving foodstuffs, PPE equipment and other help from the Queens Borough President Office by Mr. Brent Weitzberg, the Deputy Chief of Staff, who had earlier approved the assistance. Weitzberg told Baldeo that the reason was, “because he was running against David Weprin.” This was an obvious warning that he should not go up against the “Old Boys Clubhouse.

“When any public official, or anyone, injects narrow-mindedness, hate and prejudice into public proceedings, minimizes community issues, spites communities where his rivals are from, and publicly humiliates and denies them their sacred rights, it is no different from hate crimes. We must practice what we preach. We cannot allow anyone to suppress democracy and the hallowed right to run for public office. It reminds us of dictatorships and Putin, and is very un-American. Americans must be able to run for public office, including minorities and people of color, especially given the institutional, racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement that have historically diminished us a nation, without fearing retaliation and spite. David Weprin must resign from public office.”

Editor's Note: the Office of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards sent a response to the Black Star News disputing some of the statements that were made by the South Asian and Latino Alliance For Justice and Empowerment.

Here is the substantive part of the statement:

"Hello, this is Chris Barca, the communications director for Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. I’m writing in response to your outlet’s running of a troubling piece today submitted by the South Asian and Latino Alliance for Justice and Empowerment about Assemblymember David Weprin. The section of the piece about the Queens Borough President’s Office and the Deputy Chief of Staff relating to a supposed conversation with Mr. Baldeo is false, as those words alleged to have been said by the DCOS were never uttered."

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