Queens Community Board Member's Remarks About Immigrants Shock Neighborhood - NBC New York

Queens Community Board Member's Remarks About Immigrants Shock Neighborhood

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    Community Board's Remarks on Immigrants Stun Neighborhood

    Controversy is brewing in Corona, Queens, over comments a community board member made about the people using proposed bike lanes. People are demanding she step down. Ray Villeda reports.

    (Published Thursday, March 2, 2017)

    A remark made by a Queens community board member at a recent meeting about bicycle lanes has sparked a firestorm of criticism, with many calling for her to step down. 

    Ann Pfoser Darby, a member of Community Board 4 in Corona for decades, was at a transportation meeting Tuesday night to discuss bike lanes on 111th Street. She allegedly made a comment about illegal immigrants being the main group using bike lanes.

    Juan Restrepo, a member of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, was at the meeting and says he heard her make the disparaging remark. 

    "She essentially said that once Trump was in office, these bike lanes won't serve a purpose anymore, because the people who use them are immigrants, are all going to be deported because there won't be anyone to ride them anymore," he said. 

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    Restrepo was stunned.

    "How do you react to something like that? This is someone who is on a community board, meant to represent the community," he said. 

    Darby doubled down on her comments to News 4 over the phone Wednesday.

    "They were telling me, ICE is going through Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, so when ICE goes through, logistically speaking, they're not going to have people using bike lanes," she said. 

    As for how she can tell who's here legally: "Well, I use certain kinds of dress, the people I know use certain kind of dress. If different people wear different kids of dress, you know they're different kinds of people." 

    "I'm a realist, not a racist," she said. "I speak the truth." 

    In a statement to News 4, Board Chair Damian Vargas said, "This board member's comment is solely her opinion and does not reflect the opinion or values of Community Board 4. Apologies were given to those members of the public who were present. 

    "Community Board 4 welcomes the free expression of diverse viewpoints as it is essential to effectively represent communities as diverse as Corona and Elmhurst. However, we will not tolerate disrespectful or disparaging comments about any member of any community," Vargas said.

    Vargas says the community board leaders will investigate and work with elected officials to determine a proper course of action. 

    Queens Borough President Melinda Katz told News 4, "These types of comments from public servants are never acceptable." 

    Community board members are reappointed every two years by the borough president. Darby is up for reappointment this month. Katz will announce her decisions on all Queens Community Board appointments and reappointments by the end of the month.  

    Darby's neighbor, who calls New York home after moving here from China, says she's a good neighbor.

    "I know she has opinions but I don't comment on her opinions," she said. 

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