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Young lawyer wants Sen. Jesse Hamilton’s job

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A young Brooklyn lawyer of Caribbean roots has his eyes set on replacing Sen. Jesse Hamilton in the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Zellnor Myrie, 31 — whose late grand-parents hailed from San Antonio, Westmoreland, Jamaica, and parents from Costa Rica — tells Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, that “our community is at a crossroads, and we need a real Democrat in Albany to fight for us.

“Our immigrants — the lifeblood of this community — are walking around in fear; afraid to go to work, afraid to go to school and afraid to go to the hospital out of fear of deportation,” said Myrie, who was born and raised in Brooklyn after his parents, Marcelina Cummings and Mel Myre, migrated from Costa Rica 40 years ago.

“This is a disgrace, and we have a duty as a community of immigrants to stand up for them,” added Myrie, who was trained at Fordham Law School and has announced his candidacy to replace Hamilton.

“We can pass the Liberty Act, which would give every immigrant facing deportation a lawyer, and the DREAM Act, which would allow children who were born in another country, but who were raised in New York, to get financial aid to go to college,” he continued. “These are common sense protections that have passed in the Assembly every year, but which meet their demise in the Republican-IDC controlled Senate.”

Myrie — who was introduced to the community two Sundays ago at a “Women Celebrating Women” Awards ceremony at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, organized by the Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA) by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke — said the community is also facing a housing crisis.

“It is the civil rights issue of our generation,” he said. “Homelessness is up; and homeownership is down. Evictions are up; rent-stabilized units down. Buildings are going up; and affordable housing is going down. Tax breaks for developers are up; paychecks for the working class are down. We can’t afford to keep doing business as usual, not in this district.”

He said there are currently more than 50,000 rent-regulated apartments in the 20th Senatorial District, including the apartment that he grew up in.

“As it did for my mother, each of those apartments amounts to a chance for a family to achieve its version of the American dream,” he said. “Each of those apartments is a foundation on which a successful life may be built. It doesn’t take a lawyer — or a scholar — or a study — to see how important this is, both to families struggling to make ends meet, and to the larger community around them.

“Without secure housing, lives are upended; children are moved from school to school; and neighborhoods lose their sense of continuity,” Myrie said. “With rent regulation, people have the chance to thrive.

“It is exactly why I’m calling for a vast expansion of rent-regulation, our greatest source of affordable housing,” he added. “Over the past 40 years, tens of thousands of rent-regulated units have been returned to market because of laws written by the real estate lobby and the politicians they have bought off.

“It’s why I’m not taking a single dollar from real estate special interest groups and why I’m running an aggressive campaign centered on housing,” Myrie assured. “People’s lives are being destroyed by policies like preferential rent, vacancy bonuses and tax breaks that favor big developers over small homeowners.”

He said now is not the time for “lukewarm New York Democrats to be cozying up to wealthy developers, who have a tendency to see right through the needs of the lower classes.

“Nor is it the time to abandon those who would most benefit from our assistance,” he added. “And yet, my opponent has aligned himself with the state’s Republicans, showing us exactly where his sympathies lie.”

Stating schools in the 20th Senatorial District are owed US$36 million dollars from the state, Myrie said he will fight “to get our children what they deserve.

“Our NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) facilities are in disrepair; I will fight for adequate funding,” he said. “Our public hospitals only get three percent of the funding allocated for the whole state; I will fight to correct this injustice.

“And our families are making the choice between putting food on the table or paying a medical bill; I will fight to pass universal healthcare,” he added. “All of these policies are in the hands of the state senate; a state senate controlled by Republicans and fake Democrats like my opponent who give them the keys of control.

“Enough is enough. Next year, many of our housing laws will be renewed; it is a unique opportunity for us to pass laws that will have a generational impact,” Myrie continued. “We need elected officials coming to that table with clean hands — not one foot in and the other one out.”

He said after his parents moved to Crown Heights 40 years ago, they worked in factories; his father in a sponge factory and his mother in a textile factory.

He said his dad would go on to become a special educations teacher and proud member of UFT for the past 17 years. His mom would go on to own a jewelry shop on Flatbush and Hawthorne.

Myrie said his family moved from Washington and Montgomery to Maple and Flatbush in Brooklyn, when he was five, and that he attended P.S. 161 for elementary and middle school (back when it was the Crown School for Law and Journalism), Brooklyn Tech for high school, then undergraduate and graduate school at Fordham University, where he also earned his Master’s in Urban Studies.

Afterwards, Myrie said he worked as a legislative director in the City Council where, among other bills, he helped draft and pass the Tenant Bill of Rights.

At the Council, he said he also worked on bills to make buildings greener, provide computers for non-profits, increase transparency in the reporting of hate crimes, and reduce the city’s cooperation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

After leaving the Council, Myrie said he became chair of his Neighborhood Advisory Board where, through community organizing, he helped secure nearly US$400,000 in federal funding for job training, after school programming and tenant protection.

At Cornell Law School, Myrie said he served as student body president, an editor on the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, a constitutional law instructor in prison, and a pro bono scholar – a position that allowed him to take the New York Bar during his last semester in exchange for working full-time at Justice 360, a criminal justice reform organization.

After law school, Myrie said he joined an unidentified prestigious international law firm in Manhattan.

“I still remained committed to public service, however,” he said, disclosing that he provided over 600 hours of pro bono service to immigrants seeking asylum, victims of police brutality and illegal stop-and-frisks, special education students not receiving services from the Department of Education, and victims of domestic violence.

“I also remained committed to my community as a member of the neighborhood advisory board, junior board for the Legal Aid Society, and president of my tenant’s association,” he added.

“The Republicans who control the senate are strong Trump supporters. This is who my opponent has allowed to make the laws for the people of Flatbush and Crown Heights,” Myrie claimed.

“It is unacceptab­le,” he continued. “I’m a real Democrat who will work with the rest of my Democratic colleagues in Brooklyn — all of whom vote with Democrats — to get our communities what they deserve.”

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Wayne Andre from Crown Hts says:
Zellnor is a token for the white led gentrification Community, all his volunteers are white, he has not done anything from Brooklyn, don't be fooled, he worked for a Republican Councilman from the Bronx. He is a carpetbagger who is bad for the black community.
March 29, 3 pm
Jane Williams says:
I a a senior who has lived in BK my whole life, I have not seen Zellnor at one community meeting. Senator Hamilton is always doing good for the seniors, he send me a bday card every year, my own kids don't send me a bday card, it's the little things why I am a supporter of Senator Jesse Hamilton. He helped me so much
March 29, 3:03 pm
Pat Moore from Crown Hts says:
I am a big fan of Senator Jesse Hamilton. He assisted me with a immigration case for my daughter, he provided me with free lega services and we can stay in the country as one family. I don't care about party politics, I care about elected officials who take care of my family and friends.
March 29, 3:06 pm
The Black Panther from Wakanda says:
Senator Hamilton I got your back, Zellnor is trying to take our vibranium. He is supported by colonizers who are pushing ppl out of BK, Senator we will rise above Zellnor and his racist friends
March 29, 3:09 pm
Sherma Douglass from East Flatbush says:
News Flash, when the hurricanes took apart the Caribbean Senator Hamilton started the Caribbean Relief Project, sending items and food all over the Caribbean, his opponent Zellnor was no where to be found, he has not done anything to improve the quality of life of Caribbeans.
March 29, 3:27 pm
Laurie Lane says:
Zellnor is a hypocrite, he worked for the most conservative City Councilman who is Anti Woman: https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/hamilton-challenger-ties-anti-lbgtq-anti-abortion-city-councilman/
March 30, 5:24 am
Eamel Jean from Lefferts Gardes says:
I hope we are woke enough to read between the lines, he did not mention one thing he has done in Brooklyn for the community, he lives in the Bronx and served on the Neighborhood Advisory Board there, not in Brooklyn. He does not have a record of leading the community in Brooklyn, don't believe his press release. This lawyer is like most lawyers, out to con you.
March 30, 7:38 am
Captain America from From Nowhere and Everywhere says:
Black Panther I am down with you and Senator Hamilton, who is this guy and what world is he from? We never saw him at any Avenger or community meetings in Brooklyn. He was sent by Thanos and the Anti IDC outsiders with WFP and AQE. Come May the story begins....
March 30, 7:45 am
Lefferts Garden Resident from Lefferts Garden says:
Zellnor grew up in Prospect Lefferts Garden, and his mother is a small business owner in Flatbush. He knows and is good for the community and he cares about the people in it.
March 30, 8:01 am
Eamel Jean from Lefferts Gardens says:
Senator Hamilton's opponent has not done anything for the Brownsville, East Flatbush or LG communities, how has he led the Central Brooklyn community? he is a outsider and he is bringing in gentrifiers with him. Stop it.
March 30, 9:04 am
Ernest Skinner from Flatbush says:
Jesse Hamilton is a TRAITOR to the Democratic Party. He is an opportunist who is lacking in principle. He is betraying his other loyal Democratic colleagues by aligning himself with a non- Black Bronx legislator who has been accused of sexual misconduct.Klein found it repugnant that legislators of color had risen in the ranks and were being rewarded for their hard work by securing leadership positions in the Democratic party and hence in the Senate. Recognizing that there were a few unprincipled legislators who were not willing to put in the time to craft a legislative record of accomplishments, he did what Mayor Bloomberg did in the City Council when he wanted to overturn Term Limits by offering them pieces of silver in exchange for caucusing with the Republicans. Jesse and other weak minded, greedy legislators eagerly bit at the bait. In the last election, Democrats won enough seats to control the Senate and set the progressive agenda which they ran on. A BLACK woman, Andrea Stewart Cousins, would have had the honor of leading the Senate! But no, Traitor Jesse sided with Klein, his white overlord, to deny her and US that signal honor. THOSE ARE THE FACTS!! This is not about what few things Jesse has done that is note worthy. THIS IS ABOUT HONOR, HONESTY, BLACK PRIDE, AND SELF RESPECT. When will we ever learn? Some people are making the claim that some of Myrie's supporters are White. They are CONSTITUENTS! And since Jesse is comfortable with a white master, what difference does it make?
March 30, 12:16 pm
Eamel Jean from Lefferts Gardens says:
Please do not listen to Ernest Skinner, he is the same person who said black don't protest because they "prefer to stay home and watch TV”, Here is the article: https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/black-activists-back-hamilton-dispute-allegations-dont-participate/

Mr. Skinner must of not heard of Black Lives Matters of the NAACP. He is a the one working for a Democratic establishment that does not put black people in leadership positions.
March 30, 1:36 pm
MT from Bed Stuy says:
Oh Please Mr. Skinner I worked with you before, you are all talk, we started a non violence program and you guys never called me back to follow up. Because you call someone traitor look at yourself, you are the one that said black people are lazy, get out of here with that
March 30, 1:38 pm
MT from Bed Stuy says:
Ernest if you want to talk about FACTS, there are 31 Republicans with 1 Simcha Felder that equals 32 votes for Republics, with or without the IDC they have the majority. He is not denying any anything, that is fact and public record, you spreading lies.
March 30, 1:40 pm
Laurie Lane says:
"We would be fools to not recognize participation is greatly lacking in communities of color relative to the white community,” This is a quote from Ernest Skinner about black people not participating.

Read article to learn more about Skinner: https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/black-activists-back-hamilton-dispute-allegations-dont-participate/

Has he heard of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, BAJI, Black Lives Matter, HCC just to name a few, we are the reason why Democrats are in office but we not participate. Come on brother Skinner.
March 30, 1:55 pm
Blake Morris from Flatbush says:
I have fought with Senators Savino and Hamilton on FB for months. The IDC and including them have said the IDC only exists because Sen. Felder votes for the Republican conference to lead the state senate.
The IDC claims they have no choice but to power share with Republicans.
I am running for state senate in 17th District against Felder and will support the Senate Democratic Conference Leadership.
I have asked Sen. Hamilton's office, since I am now in the race will he support me over Sen. Felder. I am waiting for a response.
I ask everyone to ask ALL IDC members if they will support Blake Morris in the 17th Senate District against Felder. According to IDC logic the answer should be a fast and resounding YES!
If not, then you need to ask why not?
Please visit BlakeMorris17, like, and donate.
This is a dawn of a new day.
March 30, 11:20 pm
SC says:
Mr. Hamilton’s reaction to attacks is to insult, shout racism and bully. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I look forward to a competitive race for the district 20 seat. We deserve better.
March 31, 7:49 pm
Ras Omeil from Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights says:
Blessed love. on Young lawyer wants Sen. Jesse Hamilton’s, its a democracy that majority rule so RISE UP. Let's not forget 400 years of African American "Arrival", before USA, in 2019 from 1619 that is link to Genesis 15 v13. New York State started 1776, United States of America started 1776,CITY OF NEW YORK started 1625.
The vote should be on who will fight for reparation from Slavery from the 3 named entity as it's ref in Genesis 15 v14.
May 18, 4:45 pm

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