Dyker Heights

Protesters demand Donovan act on DACA, racism

GOP congressman is target of ‘Patriotism over Partisanship’ rally

September 7, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Demonstrators gather outside U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan’s office in Dyker Heights at the start of the “Patriotism over Partisanship” rally. Photos courtesy of Courtney Scott
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Protesters from both the Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island sides of U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan’s congressional district held a Labor Day rally outside the Republican lawmaker’s Dyker Heights office demanding that he take action on a variety of issues ranging from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to racism to President Donald trump’s tax returns.

The rally, organized by Fight Back Bay Ridge and Staten Island Women Who March, was dubbed “Patriotism over Partisanship” and attracted more than 60 protesters, according to organizers.

“Patriotism comes in many forms and we want to see our elected official show that by speaking out in favor presidential transparency, by standing up when hard-working constituents face unjust deportations, by supporting voter reform, by backing bipartisan legislation like H.R. 305, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act and H. R. 669, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act. These are simple steps, we are not asking too much,” Fight Back Bay Ridge member Amir Shani said in a statement.

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The rally’s participants who gathered outside Donovan’s office at 7308 13th Ave. on Monday morning heard from a series of speakers who discussed topics such as DACA, the dangers of nuclear escalation and threats to the free press, among other issues.

The office was closed on Monday in observance of Labor Day.

One woman, Sherien Shady, spoke about her husband Wael Kassem, who is currently being detained by federal immigration agents and is facing deportation.

Another speaker, Kenneth Shelton of Black Lives Matter, discussed institutional racism.

The speakers included Tara Currie from Brooklyn for Peace; Lorie Honor from Staten Island Women Who March; Sherien Shady; Henry Stewart from Hey Ridge; Sophia Ellman-Golan from the Women’s March; Jam Hanas from Resist Here; Nicole Hunt from Brooklyn Voter Alliance; Maria Hernandez and Favio Ramirez-Caminatti from El Centro Staten Island; Mike Santangelo from Peace Action; and Ed Josey from NAACP Staten Island.

Donovan represents New York’s 11th Congressional District, a seat that covers the entire borough of Staten Island and takes in all or parts of several Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Gravesend.

Lorie Honor, co-founder of Staten Island Women Who March, said the congressional district is crying out for leadership. “I wish somebody was here instead of us. I wish somebody we could trust was here to do their job,” she said.

While the rally had a serious purpose, it did have lighthearted moments, according to the organizers.

The event featured a “There Goes the Constitution” quiz in which contestants competed for prizes. There was also an acoustic guitar performance by Staten Islander Gary Moore. Protesters created a paper chain on which they wrote messages to Donovan and left them behind at his office. There was also a voter registration drive at the rally.

A spokesperson for Donovan defended the lawmaker.

“Patriotism over partisanship means working collaboratively in the best interests of our country. Congressman Donovan has worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure health care for 9/11 first responders and ensure New York City has funding to defend against terror attacks. Hopefully, the organizers also call on their fellow Democrats to focus on achieving results rather than scoring political points against the president,” the spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.


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