A Thursday, May 10 Bay Ridge Democrats meeting featuring gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon was met by opposition from local Republicans, the lot of them vocally standing with State Senator Marty Golden – who is currently being challenged by two Dems – as well as Nixon’s recent remarks on marijuana.
Nixon told Forbes magazine, “Now that cannabis is exploding as an industry, we have to make sure that those communities that have been harmed and devastated by marijuana arrests get the first shot at this industry.”
She went on to say, “We [must] prioritize them in terms of licenses. It’s a form of reparations.”
Protesters called the candidate’s claims “divisive” and “racist.” They also called out the group inside – some of whom they called “fascists” – for “bull[ying] a venue into cancelling a Brooklyn GOP event with Sebastian Gorka as well as NRA events.”
They made those feelings clear from outside the Bridgeview Diner, where the Bay Ridge Dems’ meetings are typically held.
Diane Atkins, a member of the Brooklyn GOP who organized the protest, said her motive in so doing was “two-fold.” She objected, she said to the remarks made by Nixon (who, she acknowledged “tried to clarify and backtrack”) because, “I thought it was insulting to African American people and to people who have family members with a substance abuse issue.
“It’s something you see often on the left,” Atkins continued. “They take groups of people, minorities and sort of relegate them to perpetual victimhood because it serves their purposes politically.”
In addition, Atkins objected to what she called “bullying tactics” on the part of progressives previously used against venues that had agreed to host an event planned by the Friends of the NRA as well as the Brooklyn GOP gala, whose headliner was supposed to be controversial right winger Sebastian Gorka.
“Democrats in Bay Ridge are hyper-partisan, hyper-vigilant in their efforts to squash our freedom of assembly on the right,” Atkins contended. “There has to be room for both opinions. You can express opposition but if you literally obstruct freedom to assemble, that’s where you’re drawing a line. The bottom line is if Democrats want to invite controversial speakers, they we need to be respected when we want to have others.”
Former Council candidate John Quaglione expressed his disappointment that the organization had allowed Nixon to speak.
“Last night proved that democracy is alive and well in Bay Ridge, with folks protesting outside the Bay Ridge Democrats meeting at the Bridgeview Diner,” he told this paper. “I commend those who gathered to stand up against the appearance of gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, in light of her divisive comments that marijuana could be ‘form of reparations.’ In the wake of these remarks, the failure of the Bay Ridge Democrats to cancel her appearance and hold her accountable for her comments is disturbing.”
However, Bay Ridge Democrats President Chris McCreight stood by the group’s decision to invite Nixon, who is primarying incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, and who drew a record crowd at the monthly meeting.
“Bay Ridge Democrats are fired up! Last night, we had one of our biggest crowds ever who heard from candidates running for a variety of positions from district leader to governor,” he said. “The rally outside to support Senator Marty Golden and the GOP’s attempt to bring a neo-Nazi to Bay Ridge only served as a counterpoint to the positive change Democrats are seeking this year.”
Nixon touched on the idea of divisiveness at the meeting, calling on Cuomo to do more for the city’s immigrants. “In this time of Donald Trump’s divide and conquer, it’s more important than ever that we show the country and we show the world that New Yorkers can come together and lead,” she said.
The Bay Ridge Dems, McCreight added, have not yet endorsed any candidates, though, their recommendations are coming.
“Our club will endorse a full-slate of candidates in June and will work tirelessly to get them elected,” McCreight told this paper.
Additional reporting contributed by Helen Klein