Perez confirmed that this was the first Tuesday since the mobile soup kitchen began five years ago that it was unable to serve its Tuesday morning breakfast at the corner of 69th and Broadway. The Soup Kitchen was relocated 7 blocks away to the corner of 69th Street and Woodside Ave.
Roberto Menesses, president of Day Laborers United, a day laborer advocacy group, says the day’s events were typical of a broad pattern of police harassment. He had got word of the anti-day laborer protest, and in an email blast the night before had called for a counter-rally. When asked about failure of any demonstrators to show up, Menesses gestured to the police, “Thats your anti-immigrant protest right there,” he said.
Perez he could not explain why the demonstrators chose a Tuesday morning. ” Its sad, ” he said, “we only come once a week. I could understand if we were destroying the neighborhood,” he said. “We just come for a little while, feed whoever is hungry, do some social services and we leave,” he added.
However, the demonstration failed to materialize. The NYPD officers at the scene refused to comment.
Hart Park has been a longtime flash point between some local residents who complain that large number of men gather around the park, and the day laborers who who congregate in search for a job. 17 months into the economic downturn, Byrnes says that she has seen the number of meals she serves at her only Queens stop increase by 40-45%.
The Indypendent will continue to follow this story.
For more of the Indypendent’s coverage read “Its No Walk in the Park for Day Laborers” by Karen Yi and Jaisal Noor.