2011-11-23 / Features

Astoria Community Says Enough Is Enough

BY JASON D. ANTOS


(L. to r.); Astoria Civic Association President Paul Halvatzis, Ed Babor representing Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Tony Meloni of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. met concerned area residents about recent incidents of groping, car vandalism and even attempted rape in Astoria. 
Photos Jason D. Antos (L. to r.); Astoria Civic Association President Paul Halvatzis, Ed Babor representing Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Tony Meloni of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. met concerned area residents about recent incidents of groping, car vandalism and even attempted rape in Astoria. Photos Jason D. Antos Fed up with incidents of groping, car vandalism and even attempted rape, community leaders and activists met to discuss new crime fighting initiatives to create a safer environment in Astoria.

At the morning meeting on November 16 elected officials, including state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Ed Babor representing Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, District Leader Costa Constantinides, Astoria Civic Association President Paul Halvatzis and Tony Meloni of the New York Anti-Crime Agency fielded questions and concerns about a recent string of crimes. The meeting was held at the offices of Gianaris and Simotas at 21-77 31st St. in Astoria.


Concerned residents of Astoria expressed their outrage at the recent outbreak of crime in the neighborhood. Concerned residents of Astoria expressed their outrage at the recent outbreak of crime in the neighborhood. The most recent incident of groping occurred at Broadway and 31st Street and the inappropriate touching of a young girl by an unknown man at the Steinway Library near 31st Street and Broadway and also an attempted rape on 21st Street.

“We must do everything in our power to combat the recent uncharacteristic crime wave in our community,” Gianaris said. “Protecting small businesses that rush to aid someone in distress will increase the safe havens available to crime victims and make our streets safer.”

Gianaris is introducing legislation that expands the Good Samaritan laws so it will pertain to local businesses and non-profits acting as safe havens to individuals who feel at risk or victimized. The measure would not hold organizations offering themselves as safe havens liable for damages or injuries that may have occurred while helping a victim.

Simotas commended the Astoria community for taking a united stand against crime in the neighborhood, and announced that she is introducing new legislation to increase sentences for certain sex crimes and close legal loopholes that allow sex offenders to avoid facing serious penalties.

“Astoria is one of the best neighborhoods in New York to raise a family, and we will not allow a few deplorable individuals - especially those who prey on women and children - to threaten that,” Simotas said. “It’s important that we use every resource at our disposal, including passing tougher laws, to send a message that we will not tolerate these types of acts in our community and criminals will be held accountable.”

Following an incident in September when an unknown man inappropriately touched a young girl, the three elected officials worked together to introduce a bill that protects children from predators. The legislation establishes the crime of forcible touching of a child less than 13 years of age as a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

“This is all very disturbing to me and guaranteed it is going to stop,” said Vallone.

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