A convicted sex offender was allowed to openly spit anti-Asian bigotry at a public hearing at the city council this week, with no hindrance or objection from the Pols who chaired the session.
Douglas Powell, an ex-convict affiliated with left-wing advocacy group Vocal-NY, spat out his racist hatred Thursday while saying he supports a proposed city law that would bar landlords from conducting criminal background checks on potential renters.
Powell spoke after two Asian women and two white women testified against the legislation, citing public safety concerns for other renters and small landlords.
“This isn’t about crime — it’s about race, it’s about black people,” Powell replied during the hearing, conducted by the council’s Civil Rights Committee, deriding previous speakers’ testimony against the law as “garbage.
“Did you see how the Asians were just talking?” he said.
“I live in Rego Park now. This is the most racist neighborhood I’ve ever been to and it’s all Asians.
“If you go into a store, they will follow you as if you were preparing to steal something. They don’t want black people living in black neighborhoods. Because it’s not their neighborhood, because they’re from China, they’re from Hong Kong. We from New York,” Powell said.
No council member tried to interrupt him or address his hate speech during the session.
Powell, 59, is listed as a Level 2 sex offender with a Rego Park address following a 2008 conviction of attempted criminal sex activity with a victim under the age of 15, according to the state sex offender registry. He received a 30-month sentence for the crime, the register says.
Asian-American activists and leaders were furious that council members did not censure Powell’s anti-Asian slurs during the hearing.
“I went as I said and this man meant me and @susanleenyc.” tweeted Asian Wave Alliance President Yiatin Chu. “This is the hate speech fueling anti-Asian hate crimes. And our chosen ones were silent.”
“Can you imagine if he said the same thing about black people, Hispanics, or Jewish people? Our chosen ones would keep quiet and carry on as if nothing racist had happened!” she raged.
Activist Susan Lee, who testified with Chu at the hearing, tweeted: “What this man said today about me and @ycinnewyork was not testimony.
“It was HATE SPEECHs that can incite violence in the Asian community,” she wrote.
“How can @CMNantashaW allow this to happen at her community hearing?” Lee tweeted, referring to Queens Councilwoman Nantasha Williams, Chair of the Civil Rights Committee, who chaired the hearing on the bill. “@NYCCouncil, did that happen in your chamber where you legislate?”
State Senator John Liu (D-Queens), who recently told The Post he had received anti-Asian voice messages, said: “We are all New Yorkers, no matter where we live or where we’re from.
“Regardless of your stance on the legislation at hand, these comments aimed at Asians on the floor of the council chambers were absolutely racist and unacceptable and must be condemned.”
Queens Councilwoman Sandra Ung, who was not at the hearing, tweeted“Comments at today’s @NYCCouncil hearing attacking Asian Americans were racist and divisive.
“Racial attacks like this have no place in our city, let alone council chambers, and should be condemned by all. @VOCALNewYork,” said Ung.
Ung’s tweet received a belated Response from City Council spokeswoman Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), who was also absent from Thursday night’s session.
“The remarks made at today’s hearings are inappropriate and unacceptable in Council Chambers and elsewhere,” Adams wrote. “There is never an excuse for such harmful language, and we must not be divided in believing that justice comes from harming others.”
Williams, who was scathingly criticized by Lee and others for not immediately rebuking Powell’s bigoted remarks, issued a belated statement on Friday on Twitter.
“Regarding yesterday’s hearing on fair opportunities for housing: racism and discrimination hurt us all in different ways and responding with similar rhetoric is never the solution,” said the councilwoman.
“As a black woman, a member of one of the most hated and disrespected communities on the planet, I know personally how deeply hurtful language can be to our progress as a people and personal safety,” she wrote. “The prejudices against Asian communities, Black communities and those involved in justice are a product of systemic racism that we must oppose.”
Noting that in May she held a hearing highlighting hate crimes in Asia, she said: “Our liberation is rooted in each other’s freedoms, so I condemn all hateful comments directed at any community.”
The council’s bill is sponsored by Manhattan Alderman Keith Powers, who was present at the meeting but later insisted to The Post that he was not in the hearing room when Powell made the anti-Asian remarks.
“I’ve been away a few times [speakers] and returned as [Powell] came to an end”
Powers told the Post. “I believe aside from the chairman in person, some members were watching from afar.”
powers tweeted after the session“I’ll be crystal clear – no one should go into the @NYCCouncil chambers saying hate speech.”
Powell wore a Vocal NY T-shirt to the hearing. The left group confirmed that he was a volunteer with the organization. He was listed as an activist for the homeless.
“The language we heard was unacceptable and we apologize for the damage it caused,” the advocacy group said.
Still, a Vocal-NY spokesman said the group will not cut ties with Powell.
“VOCAL-NY will continue to work with this leader and our entire membership to eliminate the racism and prejudice that is holding us all back,” the group said. “We don’t throw people away or fire them because of their mistakes – we work with everyone so we can create a future that works for all of us.”
Powell had no immediate comment on Vocal-NY.
Queens Councilman Robert Holden attended the meeting virtually, but his representative later told The Post that police had not heard Powell’s racist comments.
Holden tweeted shortly after the meeting: “Americans from Asia are just as New Yorkers as everyone else.
“This despicable racist should be condemned at all costs. I hope @VOCALNewYork will sever ties with anyone making such racist hate speech. Disgusting,” Holden wrote.
Rep. Grace Meng, who also did not attend the hearing, retweeted Holden’s statement and added: “@BobHoldenNYC and I actually agree on this. This language is totally unnecessary, divisive and hurtful.”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/convicted-sex-offender-spews-anti-asian-slurs-during-nyc-council-meeting/ Convicted sex offender spits out anti-Asian slurs during New York City Council meeting