Tag: Rudy Guiliani

JHISN Newsletter 10/07/2023

Dear friends,

We debated whether to bring this week’s story to you. Would we be amplifying Curtis Sliwa’s vicious, cynical politics by reporting on them? Should readers who have never heard of Sliwa be introduced to him here?

Ultimately we decided that this was an important story to share. We offer a summary look at the anti-immigrant movement that Sliwa, with his billionaire-funded bullhorn, is trying to build in NYC. Some of you may remember Sliwa as the failed Republican nominee in the last mayoral race. Today, anointing himself the “mayor in exile,” he hopes to use anti-immigrant resentment and fear in his next run for mayor. We also want to situate Sliwa’s (limited) popularity in the context of the growing traction of conservative and anti-immigrant politics in the city. So. Read with caution. Read with care. And help us build immigrant justice movements strong enough to make this story irrelevant.

Curtis Sliwa and 77 WABC—Spearheading NYC’s Anti-Migrant Protests

“They don’t have enough handcuffs. They don’t have enough cops. They don’t have enough cars. We’re going to be here 24/7/365 and the illegals are not gonna want to come here. They should stay in Manhattan.” —Curtis Sliwa at the former Island Shores Senior Living facility (9/19/2023)

If you were in New York City in the 1980s, you probably knew Curtis Sliwa as the red beret-wearing Guardian Angel claiming to “protect” subway riders. If you listened to talk radio in the 1990s, you knew him as a regular co-host on WABC. If you were here in 2021, you’ll remember him as the Republican candidate for Mayor. Now, using the radio platform of 77 WABC, Sliwa’s latest incarnation is as the chief organizer and promoter of protests against migrant asylum seekers,  thinly veiled as opposition to the shelters that house them. 

A regular feature of Sliwa’s broadcasts is verbal attacks on Mayor Adams for his ineptitude as a mayor, his fancy suits, his enjoyment of NYC’s nightlife, and his policies towards migrants arriving in the city. At the end of August, in an intensification of those attacks, Sliwa organized a loud rally in front of Gracie Mansion. He declared that asylum seekers should be housed at Rikers Island until they are granted working papers. Immigrant justice counter-protesters from Rise and Resist denounced Sliwa for his hate-filled rhetoric.

Sliwa is on right-wing radio for hours each day. He is a regular guest at 7:05 a.m. on 77 WABC’s Sid Rosenberg & Friends morning show. He then hosts his own midday show (with Anthony Weiner as his foil). Sliwa also produces a stream of  Minicasts and Rip and Read podcasts. Hectoring listeners at the top of his voice, he recycles half-truths and baldfaced lies about migrants, characterizing legal asylum seekers as an invasion of “illegal aliens” who have deliberately decided to come to NYC for the freebies. Sliwa’s daily screeds imply that “fighting age men” seeking US asylum are at best a danger to citizen children and women and, at worst, terrorists in disguise.

77 WABC is the third-largest talk radio station in NYC. It was purchased in 2021 by billionaire John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Media. Catsimatidis is best known as the owner of the New York supermarket chain Gristedes, but Red Apple Group also owns United Refining in Pennsylvania and real estate in New York and elsewhere. Catsimatidis’ Republican credentials are very strong. His daughter, Andrea, is chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party (and married to the grandson of Richard Nixon). His son John and wife Margo are numbers three and four of the 22 Party vice presidents. 77 WABC hosts shows for other right-wing Republicans including Bill O’Reilly, Sid Rosenberg, Rudy Guiliani, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Guiliani, and Jeanine Piro, and offers a perfect vehicle for Sliwa’s return to political prominence.

During August and September, Sliwa organized, promoted, and attended protests against temporary shelters for asylum seekers in Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Protests targeted the former Creedmore Psychiatric Center, the former Catholic girls school, St. John Villa Academy, the former Island Shores Senior Living Facility in Midland Beach, the unused Floyd Bennett Field, and Overlook Manor, a former college dorm in Riverdale. Despite Sliwa’s claims that people have been forced out of these places to accommodate migrants, each was already vacated and/or sold before the city identified them as possible sites for migrant shelters.

Creedmore, in Queens, was Sliwa’s first target. On August 8, hundreds of people waving signs reading “Save Our Neighborhood” and “Americans Over Migrants” turned out to protest a tent city being built on Creedmore’s parking lot. Sliwa returned to another Creedmore protest a week later and was arrested when he refused a police order to move out of the road.

Much of Sliwa’s activism has been in Staten Island. Sliwa appeared at a preemptive protest at the Midland Beach facility organized by artist Scott LoBaido before it was certain the facility would be a shelter for migrants. A week later a larger protest was held at the same site with LoBaido and Newsmax television’s John Tabacco as speakers. 

At least eleven Staten Island electeds—including some Democrats— wrote to Mayor Adams and Comptroller Brad Lander asking them to refuse to make the Midland Beach facility a migrant shelter. Nevertheless, a contract was signed. When the first bus of migrants arrived at night on September 19, Sliwa led protesters who blocked the streets. They shouted, “You’re not welcome,” You’re illegal” and argued with the large police presence. Ten were arrested and Sliwa threatened more protests to come. Several dozen protesters returned the very next day.

On August 28, Sliwa led a protest rally attended by hundreds at Staten Island’s St. John Villa Academy, expected to house up to 300 migrants. Representative Nicole Malliotakis and Borough President Vito Fossella also attended and spoke in opposition to the shelter. Sliwa returned to St. John Villa on September 5, where he threatened to shut down all the bridges to the island. After several Staten Island lawmakers filed suit to prohibit the shelter, a judge ruled that the right to shelter was “an anachronistic relic from the past,” and issued an injunction preventing the city from using the school to house migrants. Although the city is appealing, Sliwa organized hundreds of residents in a “victory rally.” He warned that the court decision was only a “part-time victory,” and the “war could resume at any moment.” He also proclaimed, “You won this battle here, but the bigger battle is in Midland Beach.’’

On his podcast, Sliwa called for “the mother of all rallies at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field on September 14. He claimed there were going to be “7,500 single able-bodied young men, illegal aliens with no jobs and nothing to do” housed in tents on a flood plain, implying that these will be dangerous people. “This is our battle for our neighborhoods, for our children, for our grandparents. For your equity.” Sliwa’s anti-migrant rhetoric as well as sharp attacks on the mayor were recorded at the rally. Bolstering the protest, a dozen lawmakers filed suit on September 19 to block the use of Floyd Bennett Field to shelter asylum seekers, arguing that it is an improper use of federal parkland. While some claim to worry about the migrants being housed on a known floodplain, protesters’ signs and comments indicate instead a focus on the false allegations that the migrants are illegal.

At the end of September, Sliwa turned his attention to Overlook Manor in Riverdale (planned as a residence for migrant families). He organized 75 residents of nearby Waldo Gardens to protest, claiming the building is an unused college dorm on campus. In fact, it is not on campus and is no longer connected to the college, having been sold in May 2022 to Stagg Group, an affordable housing developer. When met by a 50-person counter-demonstration at his September 24th rally, Sliwa said:

 “If you look at the demographics of both groups, on the one side, the pro-migrant group. They’re young progressive socialists for the most part. [On the other], these guys, senior citizens, many of them first-generation immigrants from Russia, Eastern Europe, who fled communism.” 

Let’s be clear: Mayor Adams bears a lot of responsibility for the current antagonism against the shelters by failing to talk to local politicians and community leaders before announcing plans affecting their neighborhoods. The initial outcry in May after he sent migrants, unannounced, to a Westchester community apparently did not improve his communication skills. Lack of dialogue with affected communities creates political space for the demagogues stoking people’s anti-immigrant fears, despite how misplaced and often racist those fears are. And people like Curtis Sliwa take full advantage, preying on and amplifying those fears to their political advantage.



In solidarity and with collective care,

Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network (JHISN)


Follow @JHSolidarity on Facebook and Twitter and share this newsletter with friends, families, neighbors, networks, and colleagues so they can subscribe and receive news from JHISN. 



JHISN Newsletter 12/17/2022

Dear friends,

We offer you this week two articles focused on people of Asian descent in New York City, where the Asian community numbers over 1.5 million residents. We take a look at the shifting political affiliations of Asian-American New Yorkers, as the Republican party makes inroads with promises of ‘law and order’ for a community targeted by growing anti-Asian violence. And we briefly introduce you to a recent series of public podcasts, featuring the voices and storytelling of people of Asian descent here in Queens.  

As the winter solstice and longest night of the year approaches, we wish you the seeds of new beginnings–and the warmth of local solidarity.

Newsletter highlights:
  1. Rise of conservatism among Asian New Yorkers?
  2. Queens Library podcasts: local histories of Asian immigration

1. Conservative Asian Mobilization Alarms NYC Democrats

Conservatives are gaining influence in a number of Asian American communities in New York City. This rightward shift has significantly impacted recent elections in the city, shocking a Democratic Party leadership that some accuse of taking the fast-growing Asian vote for granted. 

A conservative trend, particularly among recent Chinese American immigrants, was clearly evident in the 2020 mayoral contest. Hundreds of mostly-Asian voting districts—including many in Flushing and Elmhurst—voted for Republican Curtis Sliwa over Eric Adams, often by substantial margins. Although Adams still prevailed overall in mainly-Asian precincts, the Democratic margin of victory in those neighborhoods was cut in half compared to the De Blasio margin in 2017. 

This trend continued during the latest midterm elections. Asian American voters, actively courted by Republicans, contributed to right-wing candidate Lee Zeldin’s unexpectedly strong challenge to Kathy Hochul. Crossover Asian votes in Brooklyn and Queens helped flip House seats to the Republicans. An aggressive campaign by Lester Chang—a conservative Republican endorsed by the likes of Rudy Guiliani—unseated Peter Abbate, a Brooklyn Democrat who had been in the State Assembly since 1986.

The electoral trend is just one manifestation of the energetic grassroots mobilization and organizing happening among local Asian American conservatives. For example, a demonstration protesting a center for homeless people in Sunset Park drew about 1,000 conservative opponents; similar protests have happened in Flushing. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACA), a conservative group with satellite offices in Elmhurst and Flushing, is at the forefront of Republican-supported campaigns to prevent changes in the gifted-and-talented programs in city schools, which have largely excluded Black and Latinx students. Characterized by an unquestioning pro-police stance, CACA also led a movement against the prosecution of police officer Peter Liang, son of Chinese immigrants, after he fatally shot Akai Gurley in the stairway of a NYCHA building in 2014. A number of the Asian activists spearheading these campaigns are registered Democrats, but are now openly speaking about their lack of party loyalty and the possibility of becoming Republicans.

There have always been conservative trends among immigrants—sometimes based on religion, political experiences in their home countries, or simply class interests. But the failure of Democratic elected officials to make convincing progress on issues critical to Asian Americans seems to have enabled conservatives to gain a wider audience. The Republican Party has moved quickly into the vacuum, just as it has with some Latinx voters.

Among the key issues exploited by the Republicans are the twin dangers of street crime and anti-Asian violence. Racist violence against Asian Americans in New York continues at a very high level, and the unfocused and divided response by Democratic leaders hasn’t improved things. For instance, efforts by New York Democrats to ramp up community mental health systems and remove potentially violent people from the streets are of questionable value, highly controversial, disorganized, and have resulted in no practical improvement for Asian communities so far. Even the funds meant to generate new community-based public relations campaigns opposing anti-Asian hate have fallen into a black hole, with no public announcement of recipients and no accountability from the city.

On the other hand, Sliwa’s Guardian Angels set up well-publicized street patrols in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Bay Ridge, Flushing, Middle Village, and other neighborhoods, promising to protect Asian residents. Even though the patrols were more performative than substantive, they were at least a visible street-level response. For some Asian Americans living in constant fear, the Republican program of harsh policing and “law and order” may seem like a possible way out, even though they are aware of the Trump administration’s role in whipping up anti-Asian hate. 

Asian Americans are also being courted by the Right on the issue of affirmative action in jobs and education. During the recent midterm campaign, Asian New Yorkers received mailings attacking Joe Biden and the Democrats for supporting affirmative action, which was characterized as discrimination against Asians as well as whites. One flyer mailed to JH residents came from the America First Legal Foundation, founded by notorious anti-immigrant white nationalist and Trump advisor, Stephen Miller. Conservative groups have also initiated well-publicized national lawsuits, sometimes involving Asian plaintiffs, aiming to overturn affirmative action at universities.

Prominent Asian Democrats express frustration that their party isn’t maintaining strong, active relationships with Asian communities. When the disappointing results of the 2022 New York midterms started rolling in, Congresswoman Grace Meng angrily tweeted, “Our party better start giving more of a shit about #aapi voters and communities.” But more promises and a better campaign organization aren’t likely to change the current slippage to Republicans. Democrats will have to come up with practical solutions to Asian American concerns and follow through on their pledges if they want to keep their current majority among local Asian voters.

Nevertheless, there are some positive countertrends for Democrats. Taiwanese immigrant Iwen Chu just became the first Asian American woman elected to the NY State Senate. She ran a progressive campaign, listed on both the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines, in a Brooklyn district that is 46% Asian. In our local City Council District 25, three Asian Americans emerged as leading vote-getters in the Democratic primary, with progressive candidate Shekar Krishnan eventually prevailing. A new survey from the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) shows that there is strong sentiment in favor of racial diversity and desegregation in education among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and parents. Nationally, Asian Americans continue to vote Democratic by a significant margin; this might eventually help weaken the conservative electoral organizing here.

An entirely different model of Asian American politics is exemplified by CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. Rather than starting with electoral politics, CAAAV works from the bottom up to build bases among working-class and poor Asians living in Queens and Manhattan housing projects. They organize residents to protect each other and improve their conditions, insisting on close collaboration with African American, Latinx, and Native activists.

“Rarely do public institutions and government care about what happens to us. They think of our well-being as an afterthought. They speak pretty words but fail to give us what we need. In many cases, these institutions contribute to our harm. We know that Asian, Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities face the same threats, and that these forces against us grow more powerful when we fight against each other…. These conditions are why we must fight and organize for resources to make our lives safer. We respond to anti-Asian violence by organizing with our neighbors to fight for true safety for the working class every single daysafe housing, dignified work and the right to live without fear.” CAAAV


2. Asian Voices Animate Queens Memory Project (QMP) Podcasts 

“Listening back to all eight episodes, I realize we’ve created a multi-lingual memory book that speaks to how far we’ve come as a borough. And how far we still have to go.”  J. Faye Yuan, Queens Memory Curator, Season 3 Episode 10, “Things That Brought Us Together” 

We urge our readers to check out the wonderful podcast series, featuring stories from neighbors of Asian descent, produced by Queens Memory Project (QMP) and the Queens Library. All ten episodes of the new Season 3, “Our Major Minor Voices,” center the voices, histories, and personal narratives of Asian and Asian-Americans in Queens. Thoughtfully curated and skillfully produced, the series is a gem for all kinds of local listeners: from long-standing members of Asian communities to newcomers to Jackson Heights. Eight of the ten episodes are bilingual, featuring the many languages of Queens including Nepali, Bangla, Korean, Mandarin, Hindi, Tagalog, and Tibetan. 

Three public events were held in Jackson Heights to launch three different podcast episodes with special resonance for our neighborhood. To mark the release of Episode 9, “The Greatest Inheritance,” featuring the stories of two New Yorkers from Bangladesh, a live celebration of Bengali poetry, music, and dance was held last June on 34th Avenue and the Open Street.  

 In a borough where one in four residents identifies as Asian American, the podcasts’ local histories of “minoritized” communities are a major contribution. Listen, explore, learn, and enjoy.  



In solidarity and with collective care,

Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network (JHISN)


Follow @JHSolidarity on Facebook and Twitter and share this newsletter with friends, families, neighbors, networks, and colleagues so they can subscribe and receive news from JHISN.