Civic groups tell city to back off over ‘defamatory’ remarks in ongoing Maspeth shelter battle

Photo by Anthony Giudice/QNS

The Maspeth homeless shelter war is getting personal.

The Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) and the Citizens for a Better Maspeth community group have taken up counsel and sent a cease and desist letter to Aja Worthy-Davis, deputy press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio, for “defamatory statements” she made about the groups in an email last month.

In the statement, Davis calls out City Comptroller Scott Stringer for his visit to the monthly JPCA meeting on Oct. 27. Stringer appeared at the meeting to speak to the members about the homeless situation across the city and the Maspeth shelter that has prompted months of rallies and protests.

During the meeting, JPCA President Robert Holden alluded to the fact that Stinger may be gearing up for a showdown with de Blasio in next year’s mayoral race.

“Scott Stringer is courting a group advocating for kicking women and toddlers onto the street, using White Lives Matter as their protest song. He should be ashamed,” the Davis email said according to the Politico article.

“This hateful rhetoric has no place in polite discourse, never mind in a statement of anyone who speaks for the mayor on the city of New York,” wrote Daniel J. Schneider of Klein Slowik PLLC, in the letter. “You have falsely painted with a broad brush the motives and intentions of JPCA in a wholly unacceptable manner. Harnessing implicit bias and smearing the group’s name and goals can have no other end than to garner support for your contrary position.”

The letter also reiterates the reasons behind the community’s opposition to the shelter, including the large number of homeless from outside of Maspeth that are being housed at the hotel/shelter location, as well as the “back-room manner” in which the city has gone about the conversion of the hotel into a shelter with little to no transparency and without entering into a city contract with the operator of the hotel.

“The members of JPCA do not deserve to have their legitimate concerns being dismissed out of hand in a manner which imputes racial bias to the group,” Schneider added. “Invoking kicking woman and toddlers and ‘White Lives Matter’ is beyond the pale.”

The letter further requests that Davis withdraw her statements and issue an apology to JPCA in writing within 15 days of the letter — which was sent on Nov. 1 — or JPCA will look to take legal action.

This is not the first time the mayor’s office has called out the Maspeth shelter’s opponents.

A tweet from the NYC Mayor’s Office account on Twitter from Sept. 25, contained a video that showed the mayor’s office bringing parents and children from a homeless shelter where Maspeth protesters had gathered for a scheduled protest, to the Manhattan Children’s Museum for a visit.


So for now, the Maspeth shelter war continues to rage on.

QNS has reached out to the Mayor’s Office and JPCA for comment and is awaiting replies.