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South Richmond Hill fire kills three family members

GoFundme launched for family

A five-alarm fire broke out in South Richmond Hill last Friday and claimed the lives of three people.

The Little Guyana community is mourning the loss of three residents of the same family who lost their lives due to a raging fire in South Richmond Hill last Friday.

FDNY Firefighters responded to the deadly blaze at 104-18 125th Street, just after 2 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the fire began spreading to neighboring homes and due to windy conditions carried flames across the road, damaging adjacent homes as well.

More than 200 firefighters and 45 companies responded to the five-alarm fire at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 125th Street, eventually getting the raging flames under control at approximately 4:44 p.m. Five firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Initial searches of the building where the fire started were delayed due to structural issues, FDNY said. As of Tuesday morning, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by fire marshals.

Three people were killed in the blaze—Salima Persaud, Balo Persaud, and their son Devon Persaud.

Two of the bodies were found on Friday, while the third body wasn’t found until the day after, with emergency personnel still on the scene nearly 24 hours later.

A GoFundme has been started by an extended family member for funeral expenses, with over $43,000 raised in two days.

Addabbo loses Rockaways, gains Richmond Hill

By Daniel Offner

[email protected]

New York State Senator Joesph P. Addabbo, Jr., will no longer be representing the Rockaways and portions of Howard Beach thanks to the redrawn district maps authorized by a neutral court-appointed expert.

Political district lines are traditionally redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes to the U.S. Census. But, this year, thanks to a decision from the New York State Court of Appeals, the proposed district maps were struck down on the grounds that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor the state’s Democratic party.

The courts ordered that the district maps be redrawn to adequately address the change in population, and as a result, Sen. Addabbo has lost a large portion of his voting base. Due to the new district maps, he will no longer represent Rockaway or Howard Beach, while gaining a portion of the Richmond Hill community.

“You play the cards you are dealt,” Addabbo said about the change in an exclusive interview with The Queens Ledger. “Richmond Hill has a whole different set of issues than Glendale or Middle Village.”

Because of the reshaping of District 15, Addabbo will need to relocate his Howard Beach offices after more than 12 years of serving the Southern Queens community. He said that even his own home in Howard Beach is no longer considered part of the district, falling under the jurisdiction of Sen. Roxanne Persaud’s new District 19.

Resorts World NYC is another major loss for the district, which, as the chairman of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee in Albany, was a major motivating factor behind his push for the approval of downstate Casino licenses.

“Resorts World will still be employing my constituents,” Addabbo said. “It doesn’t have to be physically in the district… I am always going to advocate for them getting a full license.”

Despite the fact that his district will now only encompass the Lindenwood Park section of Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Forest Hills, and now, Richmond Hill, Addabbo said that he plans to remain accessible to his former constituent base in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and The Rockaways.

As for his new district, Addabbo said that each community has its own set of issues. For instance, members of the Woodhaven community are vehemently opposed to legislation legalizing basement apartments, since much of the old homes in that section of the district are wood-framed and at risk of spreading fires.

Meanwhile, he said that brownouts tend to be a major issue in Middle Village, leaving several homes without power for days on end, while homeless shelters continue to be the cause of concern in communities such as Glendale and Ozone Park.

Addabbo will run as the incumbent for District 15 in a contended Democratic primary this August, against candidate Japeet Singh, who previously ran for New York City Council against Speaker Adrienne E. Adams. Should he win the primary, Addabbo will then have to prepare for the general election in November, where he will contend with Republican candidate Daniel Maio in order to keep his seat in Albany.

Sikh community shaken again in Richmond Hill

Woman kidnapped and robbed, yet another press conference

A 51-year-old Sikh woman was thrown in a van, rendered unconscious, and robbed of thousands of dollars of jewelry last week outside a popular place of worship in South Richmond Hill.

The attack marks the fourth incident against the local Sikh community within the past few weeks, with the latest victim hearing the words “mom” before being kidnapped and robbed just steps from a gurdwara.

Last month, a 19-year-old Brooklyn man was charged in a spree of hate attacks, and is accused of targeting three men of the Sikh community. A second man, a 20-year-old from Brooklyn, was also charged in connection in one of the attacks. If convicted, both could face 25 years to life in prison.

The latest press conference to denounce the attacks in the Southeast Queens neighborhood came from gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tom Suozzi, and later at Queens Borough Hall led by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Speaking outside of the Gurdwara Sikh Temple last week, Suozzi and community leaders called for peace just steps away from where the latest attack took place.

“Not only has the Sikh community been attacked, but it has been some of our most vulnerable members,” said Tejkaren Kaur Bains, a licensed state attorney from Long Island. “They’ve been beaten up while they have come here to worship.”

The self-proclaimed “common sense” democratic candidate for Governor says it will take someone like himself to change state laws pertaining to bail reform. He also touted that he was one of the first state politicians to hire a turban-wearing Sikh to his office.

“My Sikh brothers and sisters are easily recognized because they’re wearing turbans,” Suozzi said. “The fact that people can’t feel safe in their neighborhoods is just wrong.”

Suozzi hinted at negative rhetoric that was seen in the previous presidential administration, where it “became common for people to attack each other based upon their differences,” he said. Suozzi also cited the latest mass shooting which took the lives of 10 in Buffalo, calling it a “racist massacre.”

“We have to remember the basic fundamental American principle that all men and women are created equal,” Suozzi said.

Tejinder Singh, a former attorney at The Legal Aid Society of New York, said that law enforcement and the district attorney’s office eventually listened to the community in the past when some collective noise was made.

He added that police come across people from the community and frequently don’t take them seriously, “because they don’t look like people who can communicate effectively in English,” Singh said.

“Our community has to get politically involved,” Singh pleaded.

Pressed on his “fund the police” stance, Suozzi said that elected officials are needed to enforce laws, pointing to his 15-point plan to tackle crime.

“I don’t think it’s that they don’t take it seriously,” Suozzi said. “I think it’s that we have to fund the police to make people feel safe, and that we as a community need to bring attention to those crimes that we want to see enforced.”

Japneet Singh, a democratic candidate for the 15th State Senate District, said that he hopes to soon be working towards an actual plan, rather than just keep talking about a solution.

“We’re sick and tired of press conferences,” Singh said. “However, we have seen no action. We are not doing proper jobs in our city, our state and our country.”

“One misconception that a lot of people have is that immigrant communities don’t want laws and don’t want rules. We left our respective countries to escape lawlessness. For us to say we don’t want laws here in the city of New York, the most diverse city, that’s absurd,” Singh said. “I’ve been here since the age of 8, and it’s never been this bad.”

SQWM celebrates new Richmond Hill office

South Queens Women’s March started out as an idea from founder and director Aminta Kilawan-Narine over two years ago, with the goal of promoting gender justice and empowering women, girls and gender-expansive people.

Although the pandemic prevented the original march from happening, it did not stop the organization from blooming into a movement that supports the diverse communities of South Queens.

Now, SQWM has a brand new office space on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, and they held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 16 to celebrate the milestone.

Many of SQWM’s 70 members attended the event, along with Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers and NYS Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson.

“South Queens Women’s March has made enormous contributions to the civic and community life right here in Southeast Queens and right here in the Great 28,” Adams said.

“You have empowered and amplified the voices of diverse women across this borough, connected neighbors to important resources and advocated fiercely for gender and racial justice. Your work has been so critical, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, because of our own underserved conditions.”

“It is so important to have community-based organizations at the forefront of these conversations, and South Queens Women’s March has been at the forefront of so many of these conversations,” Richards said.

“As gender-based violence reached a crisis level during this pandemic, for every one encounter we are seeing 20 that go unreported,” he continued. “I look forward to continuing to support the work of South Queens Women’s March.”

As part of their mission, SQWM has offered various programs and services to the community, including food pantries, political education, youth and professional development workshops and healing circles.

They actively seek to serve and empower historically underserved communities in South Queens, namely women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.

“A South Queens Women’s March space is a dream—a dream that the younger me wishes had growing up in South Queens. As a gender justice organization, it is critical to have a space that can be a home away from home for community members and the younger me,” Tannuja Rozario, founding board member of SQWM, said.
“Our space will be a resource hub, a safe space for survivors, a community centered space for monthly pantries, healing activities, and workshops and a space where we cultivate grassroots organizing to build a movement.”

At the event, light refreshments were provided by local businesses Tropical Isle Roti Shop, Little Guyana Pharmacy and Cafe, Shivram’s Bakery, Singh’s Roti Shop and the Shakti Mission.

SQWM also extended its gratitude to Bob Lawrence and Annie Mohan of Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, LLP and the Aqualia International Foundation for their support.

Performances were given by SQWM members, including Harmehar Kaur Kohli on guitar and Anjali Seegobin, Sabrina Mohammed and Sacha Sulaiman, who performed an intersectional dance routine.

To welcome SQWM’s new space to the neighborhood, Pratima Kushmani Doobay, an organizer within the faith-based circles of the Hindu community, initiated a goddess blessing before the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“In Hinduism, we often worship the goddess, and Shakti is the feminine energy, the power associated with the goddesses in Hindusim,” Kilawan-Narine said. “We’re a women’s group, and we wanted to make sure the space was blessed.”

“The most exciting part about all of this is the space being open to our members and to women and girls in our community who are looking for a safe space,” she continued. “When you walk in here, you feel that inclusion and the peace.”

Kilawan-Narine said that the efforts from SQWM are anything but glamorous, and certainly not something done for personal gain.

“We all do this for the love of the community. Not for personal gain, or for accolades and praise or for social media followers,” she said. “This isn’t charity work, it is solidarity work, and you see that in the way we treat people.”

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