State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) addressed an audience of over 200 students and faculty at Queensborough Community College in Bayside last Thursday on “Human Trafficking in Our Own Backyard,” drawing a near-capacity crowd.
The talk was the culminating event of a three-week-long ongoing series of related activities, all part of the college’s Common Read Initiative, inspired this year by the featured text, “The Road to Lost Innocence,” the true story of a Cambodian woman who overcame great obstacles and used her experiences to help others stand up for human rights.
The book, written by Somaly Mam based on her own life of abuse in Cambodian brothels, had become a shared reading experience by some 1,300 students and over 35 faculty members from across academic disciplines.
The senator focused on problems relating to human trafficking which, he indicated, runs rampant along Roosevelt Avenue, particularly between 69th and 112th streets.
So-called chica cards, featuring what Peralta described as “degrading pictures of women,” are commonly distributed in the area, so commonplace that “children trade them like baseball cards.”
Peralta indicated that “many women from around the world are brought to Queens and enslaved. The victims are very afraid,” and sometimes seen by the law as criminals. He pointed out that some members of the taxi industry are known to have been “involved in moving these women along. There are those bad apples that perpetuate this crime.”
He said that often these women who come to this country to live the American dream instead “live that American nightmare.” There is a need, he said, to “toughen laws.”
Few politicians aspire to bring the ambiance of Times Square to their districts, but state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said a stretch of Roosevelt Avenue that has grown saturated with prostitution could use some of the sterilization that transformed Times Square in the 1980s.
While speaking at Queensborough Community College April 3, Peralta described various legislative endeavors to crack down on sex traffickers and prostitution businesses and fund organizations that provide pathways out of the industry for victims.
The senator said afterward he believed recruiting Disney to open a store in Times Square anchored commercial development and ushered in an era of strict policing.
“We don’t need to bring in the big, big box store on Roosevelt Avenue — a mid-size box store,” Peralta said, noting he wanted to “keep the flavor of the mom-and-pop shops” nearby.
But the senator emphasized that wooing Disney took assistance from federal, state and local officials, and he is hoping Mayor Bill de Blasio would join him and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) in scouting for a Roosevelt Avenue anchor.
As Times Square spurned prostitution, the industry migrated along the No. 7 train line, and Peralta said businesses began offering free car service to patrons from midtown to Corona and Jackson Heights.
It took me just an hour and a half to get a fake ID in New York City’s ground zero for the fraudulent document business — Roosevelt Ave. in Queens.
The Jackson Heights neighborhood is the epicenter of fake paper mills — rackets that fuel teenage drinking and identity theft and also create fake green cards and passports that can pose a serious security threat.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens), whose district includes the Roosevelt Ave. area, is reintroducing legislation to crack down on the flourishing illegal industry.
State Senator Jose Peralta today announced that the reward for information leading to the arrest of Brandee Massey’s killer has been doubled, to $12,000, after securing commitments from Food Bazaar Supermarkets, which is contributing $4,000, and Queens Center, which will donate $2,000.
The pregnant Massey was shot the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving in her LeFrak City apartment building. Her baby was later delivered, but died within hours.
On the heels of the murder, Senator Peralta announced he was offering a $2,000 reward for information about the shooting and that he had secured a matching donation from the LeFrak City Organization. Added to the police department’s $2,000, the total reward stood at $6,000. The contributions announced today raise the total to $12,000.
“This community has come together not just to mourn Brandee’s tragic loss, but to help bring justice to her family,” Senator Peralta said. “Food Bazaar Supermarkets and Queens Center have deep roots in this community and understand that the most important thing we can do right now for the Massey family is to help law enforcement bring Brandee’s killer to justice and make whoever is responsible pay for this brutal crime.”
The owners of Food Bazaar Supermarkets said that, “We at Food Bazaar Supermarkets are stunned and saddened to hear about the fatal shooting of Brandee Anastasia Massey and her child. The Food Bazaar Supermarket chain has been a part of this community since 1988 and would like to pledge its support for information leading to the arrest of Brandee’s killer. We are offering $4,000. We hope that this will help those people who know something step forward and help justice be served on behalf of this young woman, her child and her grieving family.
In statement, Queens Center Mall said that, “The Queens Center family extends its deepest condolences to the Massey family. We thank Senator Peralta for his leadership at this difficult time and hope that our contribution to the reward will help bring a measure of consolation to Brandee’s loved ones.”
Anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers, at (800) 577-TIPS, or text to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIPS577. A tipster's cell phone number will not be displayed or traced. A tip can also be submitted online, at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.