Queens welcomes people from all over the world, but there is no room for anyone spewing hate in the nation’s most ethnically diverse borough. Half of Queens’ residents were born outside the United States and many came here—some at great risk—to find the freedom and equality they were denied at home.
Life in the borough has been an experiment in tolerance, with immigrants of every stripe raising families next door to one another and finding common ground in the workplace.
But with last week’s election of Donald Trump, who vowed on the campaign trail to ban Muslims and deport immigrants, the landscape has suddenly changed in Queens.
Elected officials have begun to speak out against hate and organize rallies, the Queens DA has pledged to prosecute hate crimes and many residents born abroad are living in fear.
Days after the election City Councilman Danny Dromm and state Assemblyman Ron Kim held a unity rally in Jackson Heights to support immigrants and send the message that “diversity trumps hate.”
State Sen. James Sanders, who called Trump a danger to the black community, met with southeast Queens leaders to plan strategy on preserving hard-won gains.
The FBI reported hate crimes jumped 7 percent across the country in 2015 fueled by a 67 percent rise in attacks against Muslims. Three Muslims were killed on Queens streets during the summer.
The city’s five district attorneys released a statement saying over the past week their offices had been notified of multiple incidents in which New Yorkers had been threatened because of their race or religion and they were closely monitoring the reports.
Lawmakers David Weprin and Barry Grodenchik said Queens would not stand for hate after a 19-year-old Muslim woman from Bellerose riding the Q43 bus was harassed by a couple who demanded she take off her hijab. The day before a group of St. Francis Prep girls made a racial comment about black and Hispanic people sitting on a city bus.
Whether Trump follows up on his campaign rhetoric is to be seen, but his warnings prompted City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer to organize a walk from Queens to Trump Tower this weekend.
“We’ll march over the Queensborough Bridge from the place Trump once called home to remind him that diversity makes us stronger,” he said.
“The World’s Borough” is gearing up for a long fight to protect the rights of all our neighbors regardless of race, religion or gender. What better place to defeat hate than right here in Queens.