More evidence that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has compared himself to Martin Luther King as a civil rights activist, supports closet racist policies that have lead to more segregated schools, the disappearing black teacher, and entire beach communities of people of color who do not have lifeguards and are threatened with summonses and arrest by Parks Dept. police if they should venture to put a toe in the water.
Message from NYC Parks Dept. head Adrienne Benepe:
Hey people of color: OK to sit on a crowded beach, but don't go in the water.
Here is an excerpt from a letter to Parks Dept. head Adrienne Benepe by Jeanne Dupont, who leads the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance:
The population in these areas are polar opposites; Neponsit has a population of .02% minorities, where Far Rockaway has a 98% minority population. This cannot continue, as this is racial discrimination and could put the Parks Department in serious danger of legal action if it were investigated further.
Here's Jeanne's entire letter:
Please register your complaint that Far Rockaway needs its lifeguards every day, not just on the weekends. Visit 106 Headquarters for Lifeguards at Beach 106th Street on the boardwalk, call (718) 318-4000 extension 0, or call 311.
July 8, 2008
Mr. Adrian Benepe
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
16 West 61st Street
New York, NY 10023
Dear Commissioner Benepe,
As you know, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance has been working to encourage the public to use their waterfront through programs and activities that are so desperately needed in the Rockaway community. But it is difficult to watch as much of our work is undone by PEP patrol officers who chase the public off their beaches in search of an ‘open’ beach with lifeguards.
Last year in our local paper, you ‘Pledged a Commitment’ to the Rockaway community. But since that time little has changed and we still have no “Learn to Swim” or local “Lifeguard Training” programs anywhere in the Rockaways and the lifeguard recruiting process does not seem to be getting the numbers of lifeguards required to keep our beaches safe.
As it stands now, certain beaches are extremely well staffed for the privileged few, while other beaches in Rockaway are extremely underserved; putting the public at risk and overextending the lifeguards themselves.
For the past two weekends the beachfront at Beach 25th Street in the Rockaways has had well over 500 people each day, and no lifeguard at all during the week. This beach is adjacent to one of the largest populations of people on the peninsula, exceeding 25,000 residents and yet there is only 1 lifeguard stand for miles of public waterfront all the way to Beach 74th Street.
This seems extremely unjust given the fact that areas on the far western end of the Peninsula like Neponsit, have more than 21 lifeguards; 7 stands, 100 yards apart for less than 2,000 residents in an area with no public boardwalk, parking by permit only, and no access to public transit. This would seem to be a “private beach” paid for with public resources that are required to serve seven miles of public waterfront.
There is a drastic contrast in services provided between City Council District 31 and 32; two districts that lie adjacent to one another along the same waterfront. City Council District 31 presently has only 4 lifeguard stands from Beach
It is also important to note that the population in these areas are polar opposites; Neponsit has a population of .02% minorities, where Far Rockaway has a 98% minority population. This cannot continue, as this is racial discrimination and could put the Parks Department in serious danger of legal action if it were investigated further.
To address the present shortage on the Eastern end, I would ask that the Parks Department in the very least, have lifeguards all week long at the 1 stand at Beach 25th Street and consider designating more stands along the beaches from Beach 25th Street to Beach 38th Street, to ensure the publics safety and emergency back up for the lifeguards that are stationed there.
Additionally, NYC legislation should to be revised, as it is in all other US coastal states to have a “swim at you own risk” policy. By doing this the city would reduce their risk of lawsuits and could use the funds, presently used for PEP officers to hire certified lifeguards, so we can have more ‘open’ swimmable beaches and less harassment to the public who deserve the right to use their waterfront.
I would be interested in speaking with you further about these issues. If you would like to meet to discuss how some of these things might be resolved, I can be reached 917 975-5623.
Thank you for your time.
Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
Councilman Joseph Addabbo
Steve Cooper, Frank Ave Civic of Edgemere
Richard George, Beachside Bungalow Preservation Assoc.
Phil Karmel/ Bryan Cave LLC
Congressman Gregory Meeks
Les Paultre. Rockaway Beachside Neighborhood Assoc.
Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer
Councilman James Sanders
State Senator Malcolm Smith
Barbara Smith, Deerfield Civic Assoc.
Assemblywoman Michele Titus