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Plea for the Fifth

Plea for the Fifth

Author: Plea for the Fifth

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Grassroots Independent Staten Island Journalism
12 Episodes
St. Pat's for Everyone: How LGBTQ+ Staten Islanders are Creating More Inclusivity by Jacqueline Caruso The Pride Center of Staten Island's St. Pat's for Everyone event is hoping to break up the exclusive legacy of Forest Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade. There were no official in-person St. Patrick's day parades in New York City this year as the State's public health measures still prohibit outdoor gatherings greater than 50 people. Staten Island's Forest Avenue parade, traditionally taking place the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day, was reduced to a St. Patrick's Day themed restaurant crawl leading up to the holiday on March 17. The event is typically one of the largest annual public gatherings on Staten Island, attracting "over 50,000 people per year." The group responsible for organizing the borough's official annual parade – a local chapter of the Irish Catholic fraternal organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians –  did not organize any, in-person or virtual, 2021 programming. While safety protocols may have prevented this year's parade from taking place as usual, they also presented a chance for new opportunities. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Jacqueline Caruso, Produced by Emily Nadal
Local Power Broker for Borough President traveled to D.C. on Day of Capitol Insurrection by Jacqueline Caruso & Sean Ghazala Leticia Remauro, a GOP candidate for Staten Island Borough President with a history of racist remarks, was among a busload of Islanders who traveled to Washington D.C. on January 6. In screenshots from a now-deleted Facebook Live video, Remauro – a 30-year power broker in the borough – broadcast herself from Washington D.C. Remauro, and her fellow passengers, were on their way to Donald Trump’s ‘March to Save America’ rally at the National Mall that preceded the insurrection at The Capitol. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Jacqueline Caruso, Produced by Emily Nadal
Trump is Gone, Fascist Trends are Not by Sean Ghazala 'Trumpism' is only the most recent name for far-right, authoritarian,  ultranationalist movements that first came to prominence a century ago,  during economic hardships triggered by the Great Depression. Countering  fascism, however, remains just as important now that Trump has left  office. The rise of fascist tendencies in our nation should shock all, but will  not be a surprise to some. The legitimacy of democracy in the United  States, which has never provided agency to all, is now disputed. The two  major political parties have disputed outcomes of the presidential  elections, because of Russian interference in the 2016, and false allegations of electoral fraud with ‘Stop the Steal’ in 2020. Disenfranchisement combined with the economic despair experienced in 2020 is fanning the flames of fascism. The data for 2020 is stark; 40 million Americans are at risk of an eviction, 50 million are food-insecure, and job losses globally were four times higher than the 2008 financial crisis. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Sean Ghazala, Produced by Emily Nadal
MLK Tried to Tell Us by Danny O.Z.E While it is true that King championed nonviolent, direct action, and  that his methods required great character, solidarity, and composure,  Americans have, instead, reduced his legacy to one of compromise. King,  however, was not compromising at all. Today we commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Ironically, or maybe not, MLK Day was signed into law by Ronald Reagan, a  president whose administration dealt serious harm to communities of color.  In recent years, celebrations of King’s life have become commonplace  around this time of year. From the circulation of King’s most famous  speech, to releasing articles discussing King’s role in the Civil Rights  Movement, to upholding his legacy as a champion of nonviolence, King’s  legacy becomes ever present nationwide. How has King’s legacy been  curated and discussed, though? And how has the way America commemorated  King brought us to where we are as a nation today? Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Sean Ghazala, Produced by Emily Nadal
How This New App Can Teach You About Forgotten Histories by Chad Small The virtual Staten Island African American Heritage Tour brings Staten Island’s Black History right to your fingertips. This year’s police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd reignited a national conversation about Black people’s place in America and in its history. In Staten  Island, this summer’s activism exposed residents to the borough’s  lesser-known, and often overlooked, Black History. Many people, however,  only learned about the Sandy Ground Settlement. Debbie-Ann Paige,  Staten Island Public Historian and Professional Genealogist, wants  residents to realize that Black History on the Island goes beyond Sandy  Ground. “When I first came back to Staten Island, if you said  African-American History everyone would say, ‘Well, have you spoken to  the people at Sandy Ground?’” she recounted. “While I was working on my  thesis, I realized that there was such a deeper, broader, longer, more  in-depth history of African-Americans on Staten Island.” In order  to excavate these hidden Black histories, Paige, along with Faith  D'Alessandro and the Staten Island Chapter of the Afro-American  Historical and Genealogical Society, created the Staten Island African American Heritage Tour application. The website and mobile application (available in the App Store and Google Play Store)  provide a virtual tour through the noteworthy times and places in  Staten Island’s Black History. The app leads you through two tours: the  Gateway to Freedom Driving tour along the former Underground Railroad  route, and a virtual tour that provides a survey of Black historical  points of interest on Staten Island. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Sean Ghazala, Produced by Emily Nadal
North Shore Communities Unite to Provide Holiday Cheer by Valeriana Dema Local organizations team up to better serve their communities through a series of toy drive giveaways. Nine-year old Zayquan Davis had a feeling he was going to win big at  Park Hill’s Winter Wonderland Toy Drive Giveaway. Before arriving, he  told his mother that he thought he would win a TV. Sure enough, his  raffle number was called. “I was shocked when I saw him running over to the other side,” said his mother, Monica Davis. “I felt really good and thankful,” beamed the younger Davis. “It has been a blessed day.”‌‌ The Davis children each received toys along with the raffle prize, a  32-inch smart TV. Other raffle prizes included bicycles, scooters,  laptops, and PlayStations. From December 12 to 20, four Winter Wonderland events were organized on the North Shore through collaboration between Urban Hope NYC, Uncle Chase Foundation, Brothers Care, Inc., and K Woods Foundation.  Children in Stapleton, Mariners Harbor, West Brighton, and Park Hill  received toys that were fundraised for and donated by community members  as well as by Toys for Tots and the Teddy Atlas Foundation. Baby food, diapers, wipes, coats, hats, gloves, and other winter clothing were also donated and distributed. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Sean Ghazala, Produced by Emily Nadal
A Collective Demand for Pandemic Relief by Sean Ghazala A coalition of Staten Island groups including La Colmena, the Pride Center of Staten Island, and CWA Local 1102 launched a campaign Friday, December 11, to demand collective economic security through federal COVID-19 relief. The letter calling for “the swift passage of a comprehensive COVID relief bill before the end of the year,” comes as cases are surging locally, and the Island has seen the highest one-day increase since April. The coalition’s campaign for federal COVID-19 relief was launched by Move Forward Staten Island, a non-partisan organization focused on advancing social justice issues in the community through civic engagement, education, grassroots organizing, and policy advocacy. The campaign was initially a statement in opposition of the Proud Boys involvement at the Mac’s Public House Rally. The rally was alarming for its presence of the far-right, neo-fascist Proud Boys, its disregard of COVID-19 public health guidelines, and that congresswoman-elect Nicole Malliotakis was among the supporters who gathered at Mac’s to declare her support. In her December 10 appearance on NY1, Malliotakis pointed to the Supreme Court’s overturning of New York State attendance caps at religious services as confirming the coronavirus mandates were “arbitrary decisions by our governor." Seeking to counter the individualistic pursuits of rally attendees, the coalition is demanding COVID relief for collective health and economic security. “So many of our neighbors are hurting which is why it’s so important for us to quickly pass a relief bill” Julienne Verdi, director of Move Forward Staten Island, and a owner and Principal Attorney at J. Verdi Law, LLC said. “The best way to support our small businesses is by keeping the pressure on to pass a relief bill before year’s end and by all of us doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while we wait for widespread vaccination.” In the congresswoman-elect’s appearance on NY1, the day before the relief campaign’s launch,  Malliotakis called on the current congress to pass relief immediately. When asked if Malliotakis had expressed her support for their letter, Verdi said “we have not heard from Congresswoman-Elect Malliotakis [but] would certainly welcome her support of our efforts.” Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Sean Ghazala, Produced by Emily Nadal
Sandy Ground and the Continued Gentrification of Staten Island's Communities of Color by Chad Small On August 1, a relatively new Young Leaders of Staten Island (YLSI) led the first annual “Path of Liberation” march along Staten Island’s former Underground Railroad route, beginning at the often forgotten Sandy Ground Settlement. “Sandy  Ground is the oldest continuously inhabited free black settlement in  the United States of America, but needs to be further recognized as  such,” said Kevin Walton of YLSI. “Prior to the Path of Liberation march  most people on Staten Island did not know about the existence of Sandy  Ground, or the rich history and truth that makes it what it is.” That August march spurred borough-wide calls for NYC civics curricula to include mention of Sandy Ground. Given  Sandy Ground’s importance to local – and national – Black History, it’s  peculiar that almost no Black people currently live near the settlement. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read & Produced by Emily Nadal
"Business as Usual" - A Cartoon by Xprexions Find more work from Xprexions on Instagram. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Produced by Emily Nadal
“Where is the outcry?”: Staten Island’s Deafening Silence on Forced Sterilizations by Alia Danilo On September 14, 2020 whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC), a Georgia ICE facility, reported that a doctor at the facility has been performing forced sterilizations on detained migrants, specifically removing all or parts of people’s uteruses. The disturbing reports of non-consensual sterilizations were quickly overshadowed in the following days with news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. But people of color on Staten Island have not forgotten; they are organizing to defend their reproductive rights and asking all Staten Islanders, regardless of color, party, and creed, to join the fight. The twenty-seven-page long complaint filed by Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, details the negligence and intentional medical mal-practice concerning the health and safety of detainees. ICDC has been ignoring CDC COVID-19 guidelines and violated ICE’s own Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) for medical care. Detainees are not given adequate PPE, are crammed in spaces where social distancing is impossible, and are delayed or refused medical care and testing when they show symptoms of COVID-19. Even though medical negligence is the norm, the ICDC still makes an effort to perpetrate acts of violence against immigrant bodies by performing unnecessary and non-consensual sterilizations. The complaint reports that detainees have been sent for procedures for symptoms such as heavy bleeding, which usually does not necessitate a hysterectomy. Wooten stated that the ICDC and cooperating gynecologist do not fully inform the women of the procedures and said that, “they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going.” One woman ended up with a hysterectomy because the doctor “accidentally” removed the wrong ovary and then had to remove the cystic one. “The hysterectomy issue is one of the most aggressive tortures against women of color today in America,” said Staten Island resident and advocate, Jennifer Gray-Brumskine. “Just imagine someone taking your whole uterus out, nothing wrong with it, and you can’t have kids anymore for the rest of your life simply because you are poor, simply because you’re a woman of color.” Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Jacqueline Caruso, Produced by Emily Nadal
'Privilege' and Representation at Staten Island High Schools by Valeriana Dema New Dorp Assistant Principal Deborah Morse-Cunningham received national news coverage in June after sharing a racist and classist post on her Facebook page. Although not explicitly referring to race, the post shared by Morse-Cunningham invokes welfare stereotypes that have been historically directed towards Black people. Nearly 35,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Assistant Principal’s immediate removal. Soon after Morse-Cunningham’s post gained public attention, the Equity  Alliance of Staten Island (EASI) penned an open letter emphasizing that,  “the racial tension that exists on Staten Island is not new.” The  collective’s letter goes on to say, “most damaging is that these are  accepted practices and a way of life in our schools causing horrendous  educational injustices and failures throughout our school system.” On July 2, EASI held a virtual press conference condemning the post and providing a platform for students and parents of color to express their concerns. During the conference, TJ Butler, a New Dorp High School student who graduated this June, said, “When you look at the island, there is not a lot of African Americans going to New Dorp.” Only ten percent of New Dorp’s student body is Black.  Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Valeriana Dema, Produced by Emily Nadal
Greetings by Michael R. O'Brien Plea for the Fifth aims to empower Staten Islanders by providing a new media platform for our borough. There are many stories that often do not get the coverage they deserve, and we are here to change that. We will broaden the kind of coverage Staten Island typically receives by including and uplifting voices that are frequently unheard. Unlike what our name may suggest, we are not using our 5th Amendment right to remain silent. We are here to tell the overlooked stories about the fifth, and often forgotten, borough. A borough that is caricatured in pop culture, and is considered socially and politically conservative. Staten Island has gone too long without diversity in their news coverage. Plea for the Fifth will expand our stories to reflect the growing communities of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Plea for the Fifth will celebrate all the Island has to offer, and we aim to represent the full spectrum of the Island’s voices and viewpoints. Plea For the Fifth will be a place where you’ll find relevant and meaningful articles and opinions. Our commentary aspires to hold those in power, on both sides of the aisle, accountable. We will address civic issues ranging from transportation to housing, to equity, to workers’ rights. We’ll track movements for social, racial, gender, and ecological rights. Staten Island has a long tradition of speaking out against oppression, calling back to the protests sparked by the killing of Eric Garner in 2014, and that history continued this summer when thousands marched to protest against police brutality. Activists walked together in unity down Hylan Boulevard to the 122nd NYPD Precinct after the killing of George Floyd in what was possibly the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of Staten Island. Days later, on June 7th, an even larger crowd of 1,800 people gathered on the South Shore to march to the 123rd Precinct for the same message of racial justice. We will use our first amendment rights as journalists to support the rights of those protesting to create meaningful change on the Island. Read more at PFT5 jingle by Patrick Meagher, Read by Michael R. O'Brien, Sean Ghazala, and Jacqueline Caruso, Produced by Emily Nadal
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