WTF Should I Do?

Living in a blue corner of a reliably blue state can be frustrating when looking at the electoral college system which rewards states that seem to have more cows than people.

DemCast is a great outlet for the “WTF can I do?” question that bedevils many of us who would like to engage in this crucial election.

To search for opportunities by state, click here, and choose a (tossup) state you want to have an impact on.

Beer in Dutch (New) Harlem

From the very beginning of Harlem, beer was an essential drink among the European colonists. James Riker notes in “History of Harlem” that:

In 1667 beer was the common beverage in the Dutch Colony. “At vendues, or in making contracts or settlements, its presence was deemed indispensable to the proper transaction of the business. The magistrates when occupying the bench always had beer brought in, running up a score with the tapster at the public charge. Nor did the ordination of elders and deacons, or funeral solemnities, form an exception. At such times wine and other liquors, with pipes and tobacco, were also freely distributed. Families commonly laid in their beer by the quarter and half vat, or barrel. — Much of the beer consumed here (in New Harlem) was brewed by Johannes Vermilye, while the breweries of Daniel Verveelen, Isaac de Forest, and Jacob Kip, at New York, were also patronized.”[4]

There were, however, also laws that attempted to restrict the sale of alcohol to the Lenape people in and around Harlem. This prohibition was signed by Nichols, the English ruler of New York, in 1664

A Warrant to the Magistrates of Harlem for the Prohibition of the sale of strong liquors to Indians. Whereas, I am informed of several abuses that are done and committed by the Indians, occasioned much through the liberty some persons take of selling Strong Liquors unto them; These are to require you that you take special care that none of your Town presume to sell any sort of Strong Liquors or Strong Beer unto any Indian, and if you shall find any person offending therein, that you seize upon such Liquor and bring such person before me, to make answers for the offense. Given under my hand, at Fort James, in New York, this 18th of March, 1664 [1665 N. S.]. RICHARD NICOLLS.

The presence, of course, of this “Prohibition” indicates that “the sale” was in fact, a common practice – common enough to warrant special mention.

Beer was not only regulated, but was also taxed – not only in terms of volume but also in terms of quality. This accusation (against Johannes Verveelen) was for his failure to pay tax on beer:

Most Honorable Heeren, Overseers of this Town: Whereas Johannes Verveelen, ordinary-keeper in this town, did on the 6th February wickedly smuggle one-half vat of good beer; on the i8th April, one vat of good beer and one anker of rum; on the 27th of April, one-half vat of good beer; on the 8th May, one-half vat of good beer; on the 27th May, one-half vat of good beer and one anker of rum; all which is contrary to the existing placards on the subject of smuggling, and by the high magistracy approved. Therefore the plaintiff, ex-officio the preserver of the peace, demands that the defendant be condemned in the penalty of twenty-one hundred guilders, according to the placards, together with the costs of prosecution. The I4th June, 1667, in N. Harlem. Yours, Honorable Heeren, DANIEL, TOURNEUR, Deputy Sheriff.

The tavern of the day was Verveelen’s:

At the comer of the lower street and third crossway, Verveelen’s tavern hung out its sign-board, its site now on the north line of 123d street, 300 feet west of 1st avenue. Well patronized, too, by the lovers of good-cheer and goed bier, this is shown by the frequency with which he supplied his vault with goed bier and klegn bier, Spanish wine and rum

The tavern’s site is where (today) the Wagner Projects are located:

And, I can’t end a piece on beer without mentioning Harlem Hops, Harlem’s amazing 21st century pub at 2268 ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JUNIOR BOULEVARD.

Harlem Hops notes that takeout is now available. They write:

Please check out our menu below and call us at 646-998-3444 We are delivering within a 20 block radius of the bar.

If you’re not in the NYC area but would still like to support us, click on the link to our Swag shop where you will fine some cool Harlem Hops Merchandise and Merchandise Gift cards for purchase. If you want to purchase an in-store gift cards, please click on the In-Store Gift Card link. You can also support by donating to our non-profit organization Harlem Hopes.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and your continued patronage

Team Harlem Hops

2020 Debate Tonight!

A number of HNBA members had a great time in June of 2019 when we joined the first night of the Presidential Primary Debates in Harlem, NYC. Tonight it’s the (first) Election 2020 debate!

Instagram: @newyorkforbiden2020 / Facebook: @newyorkforbiden / Twitter: @newyorkforbiden

Our democracy, humanity, and sanity are on the ballot this November.

#NewYorkStrong #ItsUpToUs

Cemeteries of New York

Most of us are likely aware of the great cemeteries in New York like Woodlawn (straight up the 4 train, and open to the public – dogs permitted after signing a waiver) and Green Wood (Brooklyn), as well as the cemetery ‘belt’ in Queens. You may also be aware of the lost cemeteries like the African Burial Ground (behind City Hall) and our own East Harlem African Burial Ground that is now covered by the abandoned MTA bus depot at 126th and 1st Avenue.

Cemeteries of NYC, however, has not only mapped the ones we’ve all heard of, but countless others that were (or are) burial grounds in the 5 Boroughs:

Zooming into Harlem, I was surprised to see some cemeteries (long gone) that once existed. In particular, note how much of Wards and Randall’s Island were used as potters fields:

In this, zoomed in view, note how there was a cemetery, on both sides of Lexington, between 125/126:

On the map you can click on each of the features to learn more about how many people were/are buried there, and when/if they were transferred to another location at some point:

19th Century Views of East Harlem

Some of the images of East Harlem’s shanty towns that were soon swallowed by the grid and development, are remarkably striking. This one is from 1870:

And is looking at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 117th Street.

This photo (above) is not located, but dated 1894 and called East Harlem Shanty town.

Debate Watch Party

A number of HNBA members had a great time in June of 2019 when we joined the first night of the Presidential Primary Debates in Harlem, NYC. Now it’s time to prepare for the Election 2020 debates!

New York for Biden+Harris has been asked to coordinate an official statewide Debate Watch Party for Tuesday, September 29th at 8pm!

Please share the image and link below far and wide.
Instagram: @newyorkforbiden2020 / Facebook: @newyorkforbiden / Twitter: @newyorkforbiden

We have to move quickly as our democracy, humanity, and sanity are on the ballot this November.

Let’s show the world who we are! #NewYorkStrong #ItsUpToUs

Your Sister in this Movement,

NYS Lead,

New York for Biden+Harris

Elections and Population Density

With the 2020 elections fast approaching, I wanted to share a fantastic visualization that shows population density. The map is fascinating and allows you to really get a sense of major metropolitan areas and the vast (population) deserts that separate them:

In the illustration above you see us, in New York, and the tail of Long Island tapering out to the east. You can probably make out some of the Ohio cities (2020 battlegrounds) and then Detroit up at the top.

Here is a full view of the US:

And you can look at the high resolution image of it all, here:

And to see the incredible urban areas of the Indian subcontinent and east Asia:

Click here:

More on the map, here:

Harlem African Burial Ground Project Put On Hold reports that the Harlem African Burial Ground Project is a victim of the NYC budget crisis stemming from COVID-19. It’s not over, but it has stalled:

The burial ground site has been subjected to a "long tradition of disrespect," with the building atop it being used as a beer garden, army barracks, a movie studio and, most recently, an MTA bus depot.
The burial ground site has been subjected to a “long tradition of disrespect,” with the building atop it being used as a beer garden, army barracks, a movie studio and, most recently, an MTA bus depot. (Google Maps)

HARLEM, NY — A long-planned project to construct a memorial at the site of a historic African burial ground on 126th Street has been put on hold due to the pandemic, a community board leader told members this week.

Angel Mescain, district manager of East Harlem’s Community Board 11, said Wednesday that the city’s Economic Development Corporation has put the project “on pause” like many other development projects across the city, which is facing a $9 billion budget deficit due to the coronavirus.

The project has not been canceled, Mescain told CB11’s Land Use Committee, adding that “they’re just not rolling along the same schedule they had anticipated.”


Harlem Woman Turns 100, Urging Neighbors To Vote, Fill Out Census

From Patch:

Katie Nichson celebrated a century in Harlem on Saturday, commanding her well-wishers to “Get up off your butt and get out and vote!”

“I want people to learn that elections come up not just when there’s number 45 in there,” she said. “No, every time there’s an election, go out and vote, because the community is closer to you than the presidency.”

Community has indeed been the driving force of Nichson’s decades in the neighborhood. A longtime member of Mother AME Zion, she has also served in the neighborhood’s Democratic club since its inception, and is a regular guest at neighborhood community meetings — including one in 2017 where she made news for unloading on Mayor Bill de Blasio over the poor conditions of Harlem’s sidewalks.

Nichson said the importance of civic engagement wasn’t lost on her, as someone born the same year that women — at least some women — were guaranteed the right to vote.

“The fact [is] that at one time, women could not vote,” she said. “Then white women could vote and we couldn’t vote.”

NYC’s Marathon is 50 Years Old

Harlem is often the deciding stretch of the NYC Marathon – where leaders pull away, and dreams are won and shattered. This year, with COVID-19, we are not going to have the NYC Marathon pass through Harlem.


Your 2020 Voting Options in New York

This year, registered voters can vote three ways: By absentee ballot, in-person early voting, or in-person voting on Election Day, November 3, 2020.

All registered voters can request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about COVID-19 for the November 3 election. Signed absentee ballots can be returned to drop boxes without a wait at over 300 locations statewide.

REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT You may return the ballot in any of the following ways:

  1. Put it in the mail ensuring it receives a postmark no later than November 3
  2. Drop it off at an early voting poll site between October 24th and November 1
  3. Drop it off at a poll site on November 3 by 9pm
  4. Drop it off at your County Board of Elections Office starting September 8 until no later than November 3 by 9pm:

Manhattan Absentee Ballot Dropoff Location

200 Varick Street, 10 Fl
New York, NY 10014

Tel1-212-886-2100 Fax1-646-638-2047

 Refer to these instructions on completing your absentee ballot.

25th Precinct Community Council Meeting

From Kioka Jackson, President of the 25th Precinct’s Community Council

Good Afternoon Everyone,
It is my hope that everyone is doing well and I welcome you all back from Summer 2020.  
2020 has been a very peculiar year with a unique set of challenges.  I am sure it has taken a toll over us in different ways.  One of the most amazing things that I have realized is that in times of trouble our community finds a way to come together and take care of one another.  So let me thank all of you for your commitment to the community and for the love of your neighbors.  The saying, “It takes a village” is not just about raising children, in my opinion, it is about creating and sustaining community.  Kudos to you all!! 
Our next Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 6:00PM Via Zoom.  We look forward in having everyone join us.  I will send out an agenda prior to the meeting.  If you have any specific questions or topics that you want to discuss or any presentations please email me at [email protected].  
K. Jackson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: 25th Precinct Community Council Meeting
Time: Sep 16, 2020 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 811 2046 3238
Passcode: 2525PCC

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Meeting ID: 811 2046 3238
Passcode: 5565412

Questions for the Commanding Officer at the 25th Precinct

We asked HNBA members to submit questions they would like Captain Henning to answer today at 7:00 PM at the September HNBA meeting. Here are the questions posed by your neighbors:

What are you and your fellow precinct and department leaders doing to ensure that your officers, most of whom do not live in this neighborhood, have the necessary levels of investment in our communities and connectivity to us as residents to ensure they patrol our streets with the respect we deserve? I think I speak for myself and my neighbors when I say we’re tired of being viewed as “other” by the cops that are supposed to be working for and with us.

Why are NYPD officers not always wearing a mask in the street?

Why is there absolutely no police presence around 6am – 8am in the morning around 125th street and Lexington Avenue?

What is being done about the homeless and drug activity around 125th and Lexington? I’ve never seen it so bad.

What is being done about the homeless and drug activity around 125th and Lexington? I’ve never seen it so bad.

With unrest in the Black community, a horrible lack preparedness to the Coronavirus, and despite that fact Trump is not supported by the majority of New Yorkers, why would the NYPD – which is supposed to be non-partisan – back Trump as President?

The Sergeants Benevolent Association this year has issued declaration of “war” on the Mayor, and appeared with QAnon material in interviews. Understanding SBA is not NYPD, but do officers at the Precinct understand, nonetheless, that these incidents have an impact in some residents’ ability to trust the police?

I’m still seeing a lot of officers without masks. I also notice around 125 and Lex they are often standing around chatting in groups of four, without masks. I asked an officer once why he wasn’t wearing a mask and he told me he was immune. Tried to tell him that was nice but he could still infect someone. He wasn’t particularly interested in hearing that. I’m trying to say “Hello” and be friendly but am not thrilled with the response I’m getting.

There are often groups of people hanging around Madison between 125 and 126, sitting in their cars and playing very loud music. I can’t imagine what the local residents feel about it but I have been told that these are drug dealers and am wondering why the police never seem to do anything about it.

What is your relationship with the MTA officers at the MetroNorth station? There was a fire in my on 125th the other day. The building on fire backed up to my garden (I’m on 126th). I wanted to tell a firefighter that if they needed to get into the rear of the building they could go thru my ground floor apartment. I asked 2 officers how to get that info to the firefighters but the officers just walked away while I was talking to them. They might have been MTA police, didn’t really think to look. But a third officer who was definitely NYPD kept dismissing me and not hearing what I was saying. Finally I got him to tell a firefighter but the whole experience got me angry.

If you are a member of HNBA (Join Here) and would like to join in the conversation tonight, email Shawn for the zoom link.

Sculpture Exhibit on West 132nd Street

A new exhibition of sculpture in a community garden is opening today. Take a mask and walk on over to the gorgeous West 132nd Street Block Association’s Community Garden.

4 international artists have created works that celebrate the theme of ‘Encircle’ and ‘Sanctuary’. All are welcome. Friday + Saturdays, 3:00 – 6:00 PM until October 3rd.

Heart to Heart Concert 2020!

Saturday, September 26, 2020
Starting at 6:00pm EST 
Online from the comfort of your own home! 

Live events are on hold, but, Labor of Love Association will still host the Heart to Heart Concert, New York’s Premiere Event for Authentic Traditional/Contemporary Gospel Music.  
The Labor of Love Ensemble
Brother Alson Farley, Jr
Reverend Vandell Atkins
Elder George Heyward
The Richard Curtis Singers
Hammond Organ greats: Brother Richard Page and Brother Henry Mitchell

This year we’re doing something NEW and EXCITING and CLEVER:
Streaming live into your home on Saturday, September 26th with the music you love, PLUS a high-energy *virtual show* that includes our *new educational initiative* called OXYGEN! (Learn more below)
Fundraising: In lieu of ticket sales, we hope you’ll support our purpose and mission with a donation. Give what you can and make a difference. Your support is deeply appreciated. 
NEW this year…It’s OXYGEN – Just Breathe!  We’re blending some education into the evening that will provide you with resources to sustain and manage YOUR wellness!   We’re honored to have Dr. Sherika Newman, founder of Doctor in the Family, as our featured speaker.  Throughout the evening, she’ll share valuable information about how you can have managed, organized care and break down all the confusion many of us experience getting what we need from our medical partners.   

OXYGEN: It’s as easy as “just breathing”.Plan to have a virtual seat at Heart to Heart Concert & Oxygen!

Donate now!

You won’t want to miss this year’s experience! 

From Amnesty International

The New York Police Department didn’t have a warrant to arrest Derrick “Dwreck” Ingram, a prominent organizer of Black Lives Matter events. So instead, on August 7, they brought dozens of officers, a helicopter, riot gear, and police dogs to his front door, in a five-hour-long siege, attempting to coerce him into leaving his home.

Make no mistake: this is a clear attempt to intimidate Black Lives Matter protesters and chill free speech. The NYPD aimed to mislead Derrick about his rights, threatened to break down his door, attempted to interrogate him without counsel, and stationed dozens of officers in his hallway, on his fire escape, and in positions in and around nearby buildings. The police left onlyafter Derrick livestreamed the events, a large crowd of protesters gathered, and the media began asking questions.

We MUST speak up for everyone’s right to organize and protest without intimidation. Send a message to New York District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to demand that the investigation into the NYPD’s actions against Derrick Ingram and the right to protest is done in a prompt, impartial, independent, and transparent manner.

This wasn’t simply a case of police misuse of power: it was a signal to all would-be protesters. Derrick is a co-founder of Warriors in the Garden, a collective of activists dedicated to non-violent protest propelling social and legislative change. The group was a prominent organizer of Black Lives Matter protests in New York City following George Floyd’s death, and received wide national and international media coverage.

Amnesty International interviewed Derrick for our June 2020 report, The World is Watching, which documents 125 incidents of human rights abuses by police in the U.S. over the course of one week of Black Lives Matter protests. During the interview, he observed that the police seemed to be seeking ways to disrupt Warriors in the Garden events. “They find ways to intimidate and inconvenience us,” he shared with us.

After being the target of the NYPD’s intimidation tactics, Derrick said, “I have never been as frightened, intimidated, and anxious as I was on that day.” The next day, he went to the local police station accompanied by his attorney and a crowd of supporters and allies. He has been charged with two misdemeanors: an alleged assault on an officer by shouting loudly into a megaphone, and obstruction of government administration during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 14.

Even if it weren’t part of a pattern, we’d need to speak up against this police intimidation. But in the past few months, police violations of human rights are regularly documented and watched by millions. It’s impossible to see the NYPD’s conduct as anything other than retaliation against this prominent protester, and we are gravely concerned about the due process Derrick has been and will be afforded. While the District Attorney of New York has just revealed his office has opened an investigation into his case, he must ensure it is prompt, impartial, independent, and transparent. 

Act now: speak up for the right to protest and demand fair and just treatment for Derrick Ingram.

We will continue to speak out in full support of all peaceful protesters in New York, across our country, and around the world.

Thank you for your voice on this important matter.

Denise Bell
Amnesty International USA