State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) said he wants to issue a moratorium on house parties in southeast Queens in an effort to prevent the surge in violent shootings that occurred in the neighborhood last year.
“It’s so out of control I’m willing to go that extra step if I have to,” Smith told Community Board 13 Monday night, although he conceded that there may be issues with people’s rights if there is a moratorium. “Unfortunately, it’s a bit out of hand.”
About three hours after Smith spoke, the board descended into chaos when former CB 13 member Swaranjit Singh talked about “ignorance” against Sikhs in response to a report by another weekly newspaper in Queens that touched on illegal immigration.
Singh then mentioned the name of a community member whom he accused of stealing his campaign signs, which enraged the community member, who had previously denied stealing the signs back in the 2009 City Council race.
“I’ll rip that towel off your head,” the community member said, calling Singh “a racist pig.”
The verbal tussle almost led CB 13 Chairman Bryan Block to call the 105th Precinct, but a physical fight did not break out.
Smith also told the crowd of about 100 people his office learned that gang members and criminals in southeast Queens bury guns underneath dirt or in bushes, with one of them using the gun for a week and then putting it back in the hiding spot for their friend to take the next week.
Smith said the practice is known as “social weapons.”
The senator said his office has also initiated other programs to stop the violence, including one in which “violence interruptors” go to the hospital of someone wounded in a shooting and their home to stop retaliation.
Smith said the program’s members also go to gang members to settle a beef before it ends in violence.
On another front, the senator said he was trying to put together an “education day” and a “health day” for southeast Queens.
His plan is to get state Education Commissioner John King, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to tour southeast Queens schools and talk about their education challenges.
Another shouting match erupted shortly before the meeting ended after CB 13 member Seymour Finkelstein said he was annoyed that CB 13 District Manager Lawrence McClean was always injecting himself into board matters.
McClean was asking the board members if they would be available either July 19 or July 21 if CB 13 needs to call a special meeting in the summer.
“You’re out of order,” Finkelstein shouted at McClean. “You work for me, I don’t work for you. He answers every question. Other boards, you see the district manager with their mouth shut. I’m not taking your nonsense anymore.”
The fights led to a woman who was not a board member ending the meeting by saying the situation was “upsetting.
“I’m going home very upset,” she said. “You have to get it together because it’s too dysfunctional.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2011 Community News Group
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