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On Dec. 13 at 4:30 a.m., Jushik Min, an 81-year-old Korean great grandmother who lives in Flushing and does not speak English, got the scare of her life.
At least eight police officers, many with guns drawn, broke open her door, entered the apartment and handcuffed Min, the sole resident, according to Terence Park, the Korean activist who took on Min's case.
The officers were looking for drugs, but they found only packets of a white substance in the refrigerator, Park said. Min, an immigrant, was not arrested, and the substance turned out to be salt, he said.
Little did Min know that her ordeal would not come to an end until April.
Although Min was cleared of any crime, the New York City Housing Authority - which runs Bland Houses, the apartment complex where Min lives - began working to evict her.
Finally after Park and local politicians brought her dilemma to the attention of the NYCHA, the agency has stopped the eviction process against Min.
"She was very unfortunate yesterday, and she is very fortunate today," Park, a former candidate for City Council, told a news conference announcing the end of Min's saga last Thursday.
The wrongful intrusion stemmed from a police investigation into drug sales in Min's building, Park said.
In March, Min, a devout Presbyterian, learned the NYCHA had scheduled a hearing to evict her from her building at 40-05 College Point Blvd. She and her son, JongUk Won, contacted Park, who is well known in Flushing's Korean community. Park spoke with Capt. Sheldon Howard of Police Service Area 9, which is in charge of patrolling Bland and found out Min had been cleared.
In early April, Park contacted state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing) and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). The two politicians called the NYCHA, which a week later informed them that it had stopped trying to evict Min.
"This young lady does not have to worry about being evicted," Grodenchik said. "They corrected what could have been a tragic error."
Liu said Min's difficulty in dealing with the NYCHA on her own was understandable.
"Certainly, the Housing Authority can be intimidating," he said.
Howard Marder, a spokesman for the NYCHA, said Min's situation was rare.
"I've never heard of an occurrence like this," he said.
Marder said Min had not been close to being evicted since her case was only at the beginning of "a very long process."
Grodenchik and Liu praised NYCHA for getting to the bottom of the matter in a week. But Won was still upset over his mother's situation.
"I was so angry," he said. "She doesn't speak English at all, and they handcuffed her."
Won, nevertheless, said he and his mother would not file a lawsuit against the police or NYCHA.
Donald Henton, president of the James A. Bland Resident Association, said he was glad Min had survived the ordeal in good health.
"She's a strong woman - 81 years old, 4:30 in the morning," he said. "Most people would have had a heart attack."
Henton said Bland Houses, which has about 1,600 residents in its five buildings, does have a problem with people dealing drugs.
"Drugs are all over."
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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