Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Great Big Thank You to Those Who Moved The 9/11 Trials Out of Chinatown

See video below:
On May 26th at 6pm residents of Chatham Towers, Chatham Green, along with the Civic Center Residents Coalition (which includes Southbridge Towers and Chinatown Businesses) hosted a garden party to say "Thank you" to all who played a part in moving the terror trials out of Chinatown. Approximately a hundred people shared sandwiches, lo mein, fried rice, cheese and crackers, along with mini cupcakes. The food and drink was either homemade or donated from local businesses such as Everest Diner, Hampton Deli, Luna Pizza and Everything Frosted.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrived at around 6:45pm to receive an award from the residents and CCRC for his part in moving the trials. Jeanie Chin of Chatham Towers said " We'd like to present this award to Speaker Silver and his staff who have helped us tremendously on many many issues after 9/11, for example the restoration of bus service on Park Row, he was instrumental, along with Judy Rapfogel, in stopping the funding of the Chatham Square reconstruction which would have been devastating for our community, and so many other issues that I can be here all day talking about, but his support was so critical in moving the trials."

Sheldon Silver brought community leaders, and elected officials together, in the midst of the terror trial fervor, to hear Commissioner Kelly personally outline, in excruciating detail, what security measures would be necessary to accommodate Kalid Sheikh Mohommed's trials on Worth Street less than 100' from Chatham Towers condominiums and Columbus Park.

The speaker accepted the award and said "It's nice to have a celebration once in a while. I want to thank you for coming out, for standing up when things are wrong. The extraordinary costs involved in having the trials in this community, and the almost lockdown condition is simply too high a price for us to pay as residents as businesses and just as citizens. I just want to thank you for all of your collective voices. It just shows you that sometimes you can beat city hall, but this was greater, you're beating the White House. So keep that in mind when somebody says 'its time to show your opposition, to show you really care about something, its important that you come out and show it. Thank you again."

Community Board 1 Marc Ameruso was also an award recipient for making the link between his neighborhood of Tribeca and Chinatown back in November of 2009 before the terror trials were even reported in national media. Jeanie Chin referred to Marc Ameruso as "Paul Revere" because he posted fliers and reached out to as many neighbors as he could working well into the dead of night. Jeanie went on to explain that it was Marc, along with CB1 member and community activist John Fratta, also an award recipient, who helped to "shepard us through the community board process (of CB1)".

Marc Ameruso had these comments in receiving his recognition "I am happy to just be a part of this, to light the spark, get some people down to the meetings. It just snowballed after that. I knew we were going to win when I saw you guys chasing Jerry Nadler's Chief of Staff down the hallway (at one of the hearings) and he was running away from you guys. and I knew at that point that we were going to win. Despite what some of the public officials were saying, and we had to change their minds, we have to be wary that this can happen again, and that ideology can get in the way again...... and of course Chuck Schumer took credit for everything, but that doesn't matter, the trials are not going to be here, and it had to do with all you guys. thank you very much"

Chinese American journalist Ti Hua Chang was the first to break the story of the local residents in Chinatown taking a stand against the terror trials in their neighborhood, and continued to report almost weekly on the progress of the community's fight. While other news channels focused on the national debate, never using the word "Chinatown" or "Chinese" in their reporting Ti Hua gave a face to the men, women and children who would suffer the every day risks to having the trials in their neighborhood.

The residents showed their appreciation with an award, and Chang had this to say "It's odd to get this award because I was just doing my job, reporters should be a balance to the government and a voice of the people, especially to those who have no voice, and Chinatown doesn't have a voice. but I am happy to say that I see more and more younger Asian Americans are willing to cover the issues without being viewed as 'only the Chinatown reporter' . With that I can say the community stood up, and I congratulate the unsung people, with Jeanie and Jan and Triple and Marc who did not switch his position on the community board, he started out and stayed on his position, those are the people whom I respect, Paul Lee who told me about this, these are the people I respect because you guys are honest, and that's what its about being a reporter. A good reporter should be honest. all I did was my job , thank you!"

Patricia Tsai, assistant to the President of 100 year old Lin Sing Association, a community "anchor" and support network of many family clan associations, accepted an award on behalf of Lin Sing. Defining the community was important to Patricia, here is what she said,

"Chinatown has a transient yet permanent immigrant population. Transient in that once immigrants achieve a degree of financial prosperity, there is a pattern of out-migration. Permanent in that the immigrant population does not thereby disappear but is then immediately replenished by another wave of newcomers from abroad. All the more reason for long time residents, who have the comparative advantage of being better informed on local issues and more adept at navigating the complex web of government bureaucracy, elected officiails, and community boards, to continue the fine tradition of social activism and community advocacy. The Lin Sing Association wishes to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to Chatham Towers and Chatham Green residents for your vision and courage in spearheading and relentlessly persisting in the protest movement against holding terror trials in Lower Manhattan. Your efforts have paid off and you deserve to celebrate tonight! We will continue to work closely with you in the future on other worthy causes to ensure that our community’s voice is heard and its rights and interests protected. Thank you."

Another person in the media, Editor and co-publisher of the Tribeca Trib Carl Glassman received an award for his part in covering the residents of Chatham Towers.
"Its' rare to get appreciation from the people you cover, often times you get the opposite, so this means a great deal to me. It really does, all I can say is thank you very much, and congratulations on everything." said Glassman.

Jeanie Chin then acknowledged Sing Tao Newspaper, the largest Chinese language press in America, with an award received by Editor Lotus Chau. As Lotus motioned for reporter and colleague Jacky Wong to approach the dais ( he didn't out of shyness), Jeanie Chin explained that "For those of you who don't know, Jacky who is being shy now, is usually the one who asks the bold questions at community board meetings and hearings and demands answers, and Lotus is the Editor for Sing Tao Daily and she does the same thing. they have been fantastic in covering this issue over and over again, right from the very start, so thank you very much Lotus." Lotus responded "As a community newspaper we have an obligation for our reporters to report on issues that are important in our community, so we have to work together, thank you very much."

Former Councilmember Alan Gerson was unable to attend, but was an award recipient as well.
Gerson had encouraged the community, while many elected officials said otherwise, to keep up the fight. He was unwavering in his stance against the terror trials.

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