By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) rallied alongside Make the Road NY and other community members Tuesday against a flyer allegedly posted by a white supremacist on the streets of Sunnyside.
Van Bramer said he was on his morning jog down Skillman Avenue Sunday when he saw the flyer created by Vanguard America pasted to a street light at 35th Street and posted a video on Twitter of himself removing it.
“It was clearly an ugly act of hate that was meant to intimidate all those in this community who are immigrants, it is also an act of vigilantism that is encouraging illegal acts of vigilantism and a felony, which is impersonating a federal agent,” Van Bramer said in a Tuesday news conference at 35th Avenue and Skillman Avenue. “We’ve learned that it is the act of a white supremacist organization in this country that took credit for creating the flyer… But the problem is, they don’t know who put it up because they’re not sure they have members in this community.”
According to Van Bramer, the flyers have appeared around college campuses in places such as Omaha, Neb., Washington State University and Penn State University.
“A notice to all citizens of the United Stated of America: It is your civic duty to report and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement they have broken the law,” the flyer read. It also included the phone number for the Department of Homeland Security.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) encouraged the public to go out and vote to overturn negative rhetoric from the President Donald Trump toward immigrants and his administration’s policies.
“We are living in a country that is being torn apart at the seams, and president who is adding fuel to the fire every single day and making it worse,” Gianaris said, adding that ICE is still currently separating immigrant children from their families and keeping them in detention centers. “We live with the comfort that this country is stronger than this president, our values are this president and our democracy is stronger than this president, but it requires us to take action.”
Judith Zangwill, Executive Director for Sunnyside Community Services, joined the rally to support immigrants who form the basis of many of the clients who attend the center she helps to run at 43-31 39th St.
Van Bramer cautioned anyone who attempts to remove flyers, claiming white supremacist groups are prone to booby trap the paper with hidden razor blades, but still encourages the removal of such messages if they are seen.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall