NYC called for funding to be stopped for a group whose representative was spreading anti-Asian hatred

A Queens Pole is calling on the city council to stop funding a progressive advocacy group that is raking in millions of dollars in taxpayer money after a convicted sex offender representing the nonprofit was implicated in a racist tirade against Asians during a public hearing.

“VOCAL-NY is a recipient of taxpayer money from the City and as such I believe the City Council should uphold it at a higher level,” Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) wrote in a letter to council spokeswoman Adrienne Adams on Friday.

“They’ve received nearly $3 million since 2014. We cannot allow taxpayer money to be used to fund groups that engage in such radical and deplorable rhetoric.”

Douglas Powell, an ex-convict linked to Vocal-NY, voiced his racial hatred as he testified for more than three minutes at a hearing before the council’s Civil Rights Committee on Thursday to support a controversial law that, if passed, would pass That would bar landlords from conducting criminal background checks on tenants.

Douglas Powell vented his racial hatred while testifying at a hearing.
Douglas Powell vented his racial hatred while testifying at a hearing.
New York City Council

Nantasha Williams (D-Queens), the committee chair, and other pole and council staff chairing the session were unable to stop him or even object to the comments.

Powell, who is black, insisted the bill is about “race — it’s about black people” — and then ridiculed the testimony of two Asian women who opposed the bill minutes earlier.

“Did you see those Asians who were just talking?” he said. “I live in Rego Park now. This is the most racist neighborhood I’ve ever been to and there’s nothing but Asians…

“If you walk into a store, they will follow you like you’re preparing to steal something,” Powell added. “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.”

Holden called on the council to “stop all funding for VOCAL-NY until they sever ties with Mr. Powell and other radical racists.” He also said members of the group “should be required to complete awareness and anti-bias training before receiving future City Council funding.”

Since 2014, the council has given VOCAL-NY more than $2.8 million to support their drug treatment programs and other progressive causes that help low-income New Yorkers, records show. The nonprofit received nearly $1.6 million in city commissions separately.

“This is the hate speech fueling anti-Asian hate crimes." Yiatin Chu tweeted.
“This is the hate speech fueling anti-Asian hate crimes,” Yiatin Chu tweeted.
New York City Council

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 dismiss the 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, one of the speakers referred to by Powell. “This is the hate speech fueling anti-Asian hate crimes. And our chosen ones were silent.”

Speaker Adams and VOCAL-NY representatives did not immediately return messages on Saturday.

Adams, who was not at the hearing when Powell testified, issued a statement Friday calling his comments “inappropriate and unacceptable in council chambers and everywhere.”

Williams issued a belated statement on Friday on Twitter saying “racism and discrimination hurt us all in different ways, and responding with similar rhetoric is never the answer”—without explicitly naming Powell or his group.

“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 said. NYC called for funding to be stopped for a group whose representative was spreading anti-Asian hatred


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