Senator Simcha Felder (Borough Park, Midwood,Kensington, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, Gravesend) yesterday shrugged off more than a dozen Jews Against Trump protestors who rallied in front of his Avenue J district office in an effort to force him to caucus with Democrats in the upcoming legislative session in Albany.
Felder, a registered Democrat, also carried the Republican and Conservative ballot line in last month’s state senate elections, and has again said he will caucus with the Senate Republicans as he has done for the past four years.
Making the matter all the more maddening for Senate Democrats is they now technically have a majority 32 members of the 63-member body, but of those 32 members, seven are part of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference and then there’s Felder.
“We are concerned about the Senator’s choice to caucus with the Republicans again. The Senate Republicans and the Republicans of New York are a direct danger to our neighbors, to ourselves, and we really have to have a unified front against Trump,” said Protestor Elana Levin who helped deliver a letter to Felder’s office that 66 district constituents and 136 Jewish Brooklynites at-large signed.
The letter noted that due to Trump’s campaign rhetoric that encouraged white supremacy and anti-Semitism, while also vilifying immigrants, Muslims, and communities of color, it is more critical than ever to take a stand against intolerance.
“At this political moment, when New York Republicans have embraced Donald Trump’s platform, the only hope to make that stand in New York is for you [Felder] to re-join the Democratic Caucus and ensure that our state embodies the values of welcoming, tolerance, and equal rights for all,” the letter stated.
Levin, who lives in the Sunset Park end of the district, connected the dots between the federal and state relationship by in mentioning how Assembly Republicans are currently suing the City to get a list of resident immigrants who hold IDNYC city identification cards.
“It’s clear to me that the purpose of that is so that they can more easily deport my neighbors and that’s terrifying. As Jewish people we know what happens when people start making list of people who are outsiders to them,” said Levin, adding she shudders to think what will happen if Donald Trump gets his hands on the list of IDNYC cardholders.
Felder was not in the office so the group met with and delivered the letter to his Communications Director Yehudah Meth. Afterward, they returned to the street where they picketed in front of his office, holding up signs reading, “Jews Against Trump.”
This prompted others on the Avenue to admonish the protestors. “This is outrageous,” said one woman. “I’m a Jew who is for Trump, and what you’re doing is disgusting.”
Following the brouhaha, Meth releases a statement from Felder.
“I have to do what’s best for my constituents. While I appreciate that some of my constituents may feel differently, I have also found that the majority of those who have contacted me about who I caucus with are not disappointed by my decision,” said Felder.
“This has nothing to do with President-Elect Trump. For the last four years, I’ve caucused with the Republicans because, irrespective of party affiliation, I never give up on trying to do what’s best for the people I represent. Parties are not a religion. I won’t be intimidated by those who feel differently,” he added.