Curtis Sliwa Arrested Protesting Migrant Shelter On Staten Island. Image Credit – Staten Islander News
MIDLAND BEACH, STATEN ISLAND
(Please scroll down past the article for our photojournalism coverage of this event. YouTube video also posting soon!)
Curtis Sliwa, former mayoral candidate, longtime 77 WABC radio host, and leader of the social justice group the Guardian Angels, was arrested along with Staten Island artist and activist Scott LoBaido, and others, on Father Capodanno Boulevard in Midland Beach Sunday.
Mr. Sliwa and others joined arms in a classic civil disobedience action, organizing against the proposed housing of the recent influx of migrants at Island Shores, a former senior citizen assisted-living facility with manicured lawns and a view of the sea, owned by HFTH (Homes for the Homeless).
The Midland Beach Migrant Shelter protest began at 2 PM on Sunday, August 20th. It was a clear and sunny day, but the speakers and attendees were clearly not in a good mood. Without a doubt, no one in attendance was happy with Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to designate the building as a migrant shelter.
Curtis Sliwa, Scott LoBaido, and John Tabacco organized the protest, along with Occupy Midland Beach.
By the time things were well underway, hundreds had gathered in front of Island Shores to show their support and listen to the various speakers, who literally were standing on a platform marked “Soap Box.”
After the speakers concluded, Curtis Sliwa and others formed a human chain blocking the southbound travel lanes on Father Capodanno Blvd. The police responded with a recorded message telling attendees that they must clear the road or face arrest.
After some time, the police advanced, and Mr. Sliwa, Scott, and others were handcuffed and taken to a waiting police van. For the most part, the crowd was supportive of the NYPD, and most spoke out loud about how they’re just doing their job.
A few in attendance did get emotional and began acting less-than-friendly to the NYPD personnel, but the police remained unfazed and let them express their views.
The crowd at times broke into chants of, “USA! USA! USA! USA!” and at other times, “Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” Many were even wearing gear supporting the NYPD and FDNY.
And so, there was no insane confrontation between the police and the public, and at the end many stopped to talk to the cops working the event.
There were people of all backgrounds present, and everyone our news staff encountered was friendly toward one another.
Most protesters stated, off-the-record, that they feel it’s not a good idea to mass-house people at these sites, and some cited other such sites in the city that have encountered numerous issues with local communities.
Last Wednesday, Curtis Sliwa was arrested in Queens, in front of the Creedmore Psychiatric Hospital, protesting a tent city for migrants that is nearing capacity at the location.
Mr. Sliwa is making this effort because he is witnessing chaos unfolding in the implementation of measures designed to address the almost 100,000 migrants that have entered NYC in the first half of 2023 alone.
In a city with a lengthy list of its own significant issues, including poverty and homelessness, there is a breaking point we will eventually reach where we are overstretched, in terms of city services.
Could NYC handle another 100,000 migrants in the next six months? What about one million? At some point, New York has done its part, and we have to recognize that funds and resources are finite and this cannot continue unchecked.
And, what about jobs and future prospects for migrants? Shouldn’t we care?
Unfortunately, our manufacturing base left the region decades ago, and there are only so many manual labor jobs to go around.
Couple that with a serious hit to the number of restaurants in NYC since the pandemic lock-downs, and there are even fewer reasonable opportunities.
It’s not like it’s 1900 and a man could get a job swinging a pickax to help dig subway tunnels. Now we have multi-billion dollar machines that can do that, and because of rampant inflation, minimum wage jobs can’t really pay the bills, either.
It’s concerning that even if migrants have a will to work and advance, opportunities may not be there to do so.
Even if the city were to organize temporary paid work brigades, as is done when NYC needs able-bodied persons to help shovel snow, and permits those migrants willing to work to team up alongside New Yorkers, it’s no real answer. Sure; we no longer need people to dangerously dig tunnels by hand, but there are tons of other projects in NYC that may finally get done, benefiting from a glut of temporary unskilled helping hands .
But what about after that? What kind of future are migrants looking at? Are they being sold promises that cannot possibly materialize? Will there be jobs for so many? And, with budget woes, where would funding for such temp jobs even come from?
The following images were contributed by Sean Fitzpatrick:
Banner Image: Video cover. Image Credit – Staten Islander News