Come Sunday, Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights will be the newest battleground in the ongoing clash between the Working Families Party/progressive Democrats, and the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of eight breakaway Democrats that have formed a ruling coalition with the majority Republican chamber.
That’s when the WFP will kick off the 2018 campaign season with a major rally between 1-3 p.m. at the school, 1650 Bedford Avenue.
“First we’ll hear from our U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a leader in the fight for single payer healthcare and taking money out of politics, including boldly rejecting all corporate PAC money. Since she has been in the US Senate, she has being working to bring justice to men and women who are victims of harassment or assault, whether in the military, on college campuses and most recently in the halls of Congress,” read the invite sent out to WFP members and progressive Democrats.
“Next we’ll hear from the progressive challengers to the IDC—a group of eight turncoat Democrats who empower Republican senate leadership. This is the first time these insurgent candidates will share a stage, so join us to hear them discuss the progressive agenda they will advance in 2018 and beyond,” the invite concludes.
Not to be outdone, State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) one of the three black or Hispanic members of the IDC, along with Crown Heights Democratic Assembly District Leader Geoffrey Davis, and a number of noted community and education activists of color will hold a ‘Black Minds Matter Rally,’ also slated for 1 p.m. in front of the school, 1638 Bedford Avenue.
Among these groups and people include the Lay the Guns Down Foundation, the National Action Network, the United Against Violence Task Force; Bertha Lewis, the Founder and President of the Black Institute; Norelda Cotterel, PTA Executive Board member of the Medgar Evers College Preparatory School; Karlene Joseph, of the P.S. 235 PTA; Paul Muhammad, from the Nation of Islam; and Shemene Minter, Elliot Graham Tenant Association.
Hamilton is in the eye of the storm regarding the IDC/WFP dust-up. The lawmaker is known for bringing forth a number of legislative proposals as well initiatives and strong constituent services to his district.
But to the progressive wing of the party and the WFP, Hamilton is a turncoat who is seen as a Trump supporter because of his willingness to work across the aisle with Republicans.
The differences between the two schools of thought has become increasingly bitter with Hamilton and Kings County Politics (for covering Hamilton and its own bipartisan editorial views of stressing ideas over ideology) receiving some hate and racist emails and other correspondences.
WFP Brooklyn Spokesperson Dom Leon-Davis firstly clarified that Gillibrand’s attendance has nothing to do with the IDC controversy.
“We anticipate the [WFP] State Committee will be voting to endorse her [Gillibrand] right before the rally and she will be speaking to accept the endorsement, and not in connection with the WFP expected endorsements of challengers to the IDC candidates,” said Leon-Davis.
Leon-Davis said the WFP has not approved of any negative or racist attacks on Hamilton.
“That’s not how we operate,” said Leon-Davis, who is black. “The allegations of racism are completely unfounded. This is not an issue of race, but of Senator Hamilton and the IDC for too long have been working hand in hand in with Republicans and against the progressive policies that New Yorkers deserve.”