‘Business Lives Matter’: Queens lawmaker apologizes for ‘mixing’ messages during Flushing Busway speech

Photo: Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

Councilman Peter Koo is apologizing for mixing the Black Lives Matter message with “Business Lives Matter” during a forum on Thursday, July 30, about the Flushing Main Street Busway Plan, which would ban cars from the busy corridor. 

Koo, along with leaders of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and community members, were gathered by the plaza at Flushing Library, located at 41-17 Main St., to discuss the plan that will add a busway to a 0.3 mile stretch of the corridor. 

Koo is opposing the busway plan that was announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in June as part of his Better buses Restart Initiative. However, the plan has become a concern for local business owners who fear that the busway will make travel to Flushing more inconvenient for customers and drive down clientele. 

“BLM, it means what? Business Lives Matter,” Koo said during his speech, which was filmed by an attendee and shared on Twitter

When he chanted a second time, the crowd clapped, cheered and repeated Koo’s sentiment.

In a statement to QNS, Koo’s spokesman, Scott Sieber, said the councilman has spoken about the importance of recognizing that Black Lives Matter, and that the councilman is an “extremely passionate advocate for small businesses in Flushing.” 

“It was not his intent to minimize BLM, but to express his discontent that this administration has repeatedly left the Flushing Asian business community out of the conversation,” Sieber said. “He apologizes for mixing these messages.” 

According to the DOT, the July 30 presser was a Q&A forum and the promotion of an upcoming town hall to give the community an opportunity to learn more about the project, with interpreters and materials available for Chinese, Korean and Spanish speakers. 

Main Street currently features bus and truck priority treatments in the southbound direction that have resulted in a 23 percent increase in bus speeds between 2017 and 2018, according to the Mayor’s office. The enhancement will run along Main Street and Kissena Boulevard as it connects to Main Street and will continue to Northern Boulevard. Bus routes that travel along Main Street carry about 150,000 rides per day.

Though Koo does not support the busway on Main Street, the councilman is welcoming the opportunity for the public to learn about the project and provide feedback to the administration through the town hall. 

“I requested this public forum be held because it is imperative that our government ramp up its efforts to notify the downtown Flushing residents and businesses of its intentions here,” Koo said. “Main Street and its side streets are essential to the livelihood of our community, and whatever decisions are made about its future must include local participation.”

The virtual Main Street Busway Town Hall for downtown Flushing will be held on Monday, Aug. 3, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. 

The meeting will be held via video conference. Details will be available at nyc.gov/busprojects

For more information, contact: Queens Borough Commissioner’s office at 212.839.2510. To request accessibility accommodations, please contact the Queens Borough Commissioner’s office by Friday, July 31.  

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