March 1, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan (update 6:05 pm)
A local council member is calling for the removal of a Community Board 4 member after she allegedly made racist remarks at a committee meeting last night.
Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland called for CB 4 member Ann Pfoser Darby, who has been a member for about 30 years, to be removed from the board after she allegedly said, “Once Trump removes all the illegals from Corona, there won’t be anybody to ride bike lanes,” at a transportation committee meeting last night.
“This is a shockingly racist and xenophobic statement from a public servant. Such comments which are unambiguously racist and morally repugnant will not be ignored nor met with silence or indifference,” Ferreras said in a statement.
The controversial quote, however, is being disputed and the council woman has come under fire from some for being too quick to condemn Darby.
Though Ferreras-Copeland was not at the meeting herself, one of her staff members was there, and in a statement on Facebook the council woman cited a tweet about the incident from Transportation Alternatives advocate Juan Restrepo.
Ferreras-Copeland sent a letter to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz today requesting Darby’s removal from the board.
However the Council Member’s decision to vilify Darby with such haste is being questioned.
Community Board 4 released an apology on its Facebook page earlier today for Darby’s “insensitive and hurtful comment.” However, District Manager Christian Cassagnol said he believed that Darby’s comments were exaggerated, and that she did not, in fact, say exactly what Ferreras-Copeland said she did.
“I wasn’t here for meeting but I listened to the audio recording, and that’s not what she said,” Cassagnol said. “It’s hard to accept the fact that that comment has quotes around it when we have an audio recording proving otherwise.”
Though he would not release the exact wording of Darby’s comment, he said that she said something along the lines of “the bike lanes won’t last long because all those riding on them will be home by then.” He added that he didn’t hear the words “Trump,” “Immigrant,” or “Latino” on the recording.
He added that the Board has had issues with Transportation Alternatives, circulating false information about community board issues in the past. Transportation Alternatives is a lobby group that calls for bike lanes and pedestrian safety.
Restrepro, however, stood by his tweet, saying that he heard Darby say the exact words that he tweeted at the beginning of the meeting. “Racism like this has no place in a community that is predominantly Latino,” he said.
Darby could not be reached for comment. However, late Wednesday Darby’s views on immigrants and bike lanes became crystal clear when she shared her observations on bicyclists on Queens Blvd with DNAinfo.
“I see who goes by and who doesn’t, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone,” she told DNAinfo — adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been “picked up by ICE [Immigrations Customs Enforcement.]”
“It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don’t know, I didn’t speak to them,” she told DNAinfo, saying that she could tell they were illegal by the way they dress and speak.
CB 4 Chair Damían Vargas also responded to Ferreras-Copeland on Facebook, writing, “While the comments made by Ms. Darby are unacceptable and will not be tolerated by Community Board 4, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland statement only serves to further a political agenda while further dividing a community in need of bridges and trust of our elected officials.”
“Unsubstantiated suggestions that 42 members of Queens Community Board 4 are racists, xenophobes, share Ms. Darby’s point of view, and is the basis for requesting additional safety improvement studies along 111th Street are themselves shockingly inappropriate coming from a elected official. #altenativefacts,” he continued.
Ferreras-Copeland responded on Facebook to Vargas’ comment, writing “ Let me be crystal clear: I called her statement “racist” and “xenophobic”. Not her, nor other community board members. I look forward to working with you and other board members to resolve this urgent issue. As one of the three elected officials responsible for appointing the members of this board, it is my duty to respond when our community is attacked.”
Vargas later wrote “Defending a community does not require attacking that same community.”
I was raised in the Rego Park veterans housing project.
It was torn down to build Lafrak apartments complex. Moved to Corona at age 5. 104-59 41st Ave. Went to P.S.19 then to P.S. 16 which was down the block. Newtown High later on. I think Ann Darby must have been around my time. If it was then you have to know how life was back then. Example, I lived in a home with a back yard, played with children of parents from veteran’s of WW2. Dad was a taxi driver, mom a nurse. Stick ball, Howdy Doody show on T.V. and came home at dark. My one family home is no longer. It was knocked down and a new four family home is in its place. No back yard, parking on other side of the street on certain days, and windows on other homes have bars on them. So when Ms. Darby speaks maybe she is thinking of the past. How it was then and what she sees now. I’d give her a little bit of slack.
Aiming to stir up racial tension is whacked & if you read the article – the agenda is evident. So much on this — thus makes me think the woman never said it!
Ewww get your glasses on.
That definitely is not racist. Whats wrong with people today, much to quick to yell about race
Not racist but your now sexist
K.f.c, no way,i d like some J.F.C. for lunch. Fingerlicking good!!!
I support Ann Darby 1000% and would have liked to see a more politically correct statement, that said it is a near death wish to be a non Latino in a Latino neighborhood and disagree with them, even elected officials and powerful Latino officials can become hateful and corrupt defending other Latinos without any regard for non Latino God given rights, destroying good people’s lives without pause or remorse. Don’t live in these neighborhoods and disagree with them about anything and not have surveillance and body cameras on. Lie detector proof.
Ferreras-Copeland should talk more about her federal grand jury testimony in the trial of her former boss Hyrem Monserat and the deal she made to stay out of jail and to get elected.
I am Caucasian. I was born here in the U.S.
I ride my bike almost everywhere in NYC.
Sometimes it’s faster than cars and mass transit!
It keeps me in good shape! It does not pollute the environment!
I say let’s not deport ppl! Let’s get rid of more cars!
Yay for bike lanes!!!
DNAInfo has more on this, including additional comments from Darby:
“Pfoser Darby doubled down on the comments when reached by phone Wednesday, saying she was sharing her observations with the community over bike lanes already installed on Queens Boulevard.
“I see who goes by and who doesn’t, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone,” she said — adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been “picked up by ICE [Immigrations Customs Enforcement.]”
“It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don’t know, I didn’t speak to them,” she added.
When asked how she could tell someone’s immigration status from afar, she said it’s “observation and logic.”
“You can kind of tell, especially sometimes the way they dress,” she said, adding later that it’s obvious if “someone speaks only Chinese.”
J.f.c.is hot, but i dont think thats racist. Little too sensitive
Freedom of speech applies to everyone!! Even if you do not agree with what she said she has a right to say it. Whenever someone says something you don’t like,the first thing you call them is racist,even when it doesn’t apply. Learn a new word and give that one a rest!
If anyone was calling for her to be jailed over this comment, I’d say that was inappropriate. But freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from people thinking you’re a racist when you make racist comments, and it doesn’t mean you get appointed to serve on an community board. If she wants to continue making comments like this, she can take a soapbox to a streetcorner.
So since she doesn’t want a bike lane and only illegal immigrants ride in bike lanes can I run her over on my bike since in not an illgal immigrant and I ride bikes more than I drive ? Downloaded her pic onto phone home screen on the hunt lol.
Yea I dislike everyone equally cheers mate. If I knew who u were I would buy you a beer but wouldnt enjoy doing it lol.
Sunnyside Post, can you get a hold of the tape? I’d love to see what the quote was in its entirety.
this is what I don’t understand? Is there only one race of Illegal immigrants? I would assume that there are Illegal Immigrants of lots of countries living in Jackson Heights. As for Xenophobia, maybe or maybe she just thinks there is a difference between Legal and Illegal Immigrants and wants suspected “illegals” to get their day in court and prove they are not breaking the law by living here. As for me I dislike everyone…. just makes things easier..