Measured response to anti-Asian remark at meeting

The Brooklyn Paper
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One Brooklynite’s racist remark during a Feb. 26 town hall meeting in Dyker Heights on illegally diced-up homes laid bare a racial subtext to the hot-button issue.

“I feel a little uncomfortable with an Asian in the room,” the man yelled, his identity unclear in the crowded room.

Other members of the predominately white crowd expressed — in less stark terms — frustration with a perceived flood of Asian investors snapping up Dyker’s historic homes with cash and dicing them up.

One of a handful of people of Asian descent in the hundreds-strong crowd said the xenophobic remark didn’t shock him, and cautioned against reading too far into it.

“It’s not totally unexpected,” said Mitchell Duong, a Bath Beach resident who owns Momentum Real Estate. “But he doesn’t represent everybody in the room.”

Forging an camaraderie between recent arrivals and long-time residents is a two-way street, Duong said.

“The best way is for more representatives from the Asian community to be included in these types of town halls,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Several white attendees who withheld their names blamed Asian immigrants for a spate of all-cash real estate purchases and illegally sub-divided homes in Bensonhurst. But the phenomenon is not isolated to Asian communities.

Last year, Bensonhurst landlord Vasilios Gerazounis, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide after five Guatemalan immigrants died in a 2010 blaze because they were trapped in a building Gerazounis illegally sub-divided.

And Australian investors have been bank-rolling all-cash purchases in Bedford-Stuyvessant in recent years — contributing to a turbulent housing market, but not necessarily the problem of illegal conversions, said Bay Ridge preservationist Victoria Hofmo.

The anti-Asian remarks that peppered the town hall won’t dissuade Duong and his employees from continuing the real estate firm he opened earlier this year, they said.

“We take a lot of pride in selling homes and meeting the community,” said real estate salesman Addie Sze.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ashamed to be Caucasian from dyker heights says:
You should see some of the passive aggressive comments posted on Nextdoor.

And how many of the Caucasians at the meetings have illegal kitchens in their basements?
March 3, 2015, 4:53 pm
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
the gumbah mooks come out!!!
March 3, 2015, 5 pm
DykerRes from Brooklyn says:
It should be known that the man in the back who yelled out was also intoxicated. It is unfortunate that one person's racist and bigoted remarks are taking away from the bigger picture – that illegal conversions are happening all over Brooklyn and the city, and the fact that they are ILLEGAL and DANGEROUS.
March 3, 2015, 5:02 pm
Anonymous from Brooklyn says:
Agreed with DykerRes. This article seems to be trying to create a race issue where there isn't one. This is everything but a race issue - it doesn't matter what the race of the people who are doing it are, what matters is that their actions of illegally converting homes are destroying our neighborhoods and having a detrimental impact on everyone's quality of life.
March 3, 2015, 5:11 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
blame the U.S. current account deficits and the extremely large U.S. dollar holding of Asian governments. Americans as a whole has been living beyond their means and don't save money anymore. All those U.S. dollars held by foreigners have to turn into physical assets.
March 3, 2015, 6:59 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
It doesn't matter if the majority of illegal conversions are done by asians, whites, or any other definable group. The matter at hand is that they are dangerous, and illegal.
The offhand remark of one drunk is really insignificant to real matter at hand. Law abiding people of any background are interested in stopping flagrant law breakers of any background. The issue is with unsafe and unregulated building.
March 4, 2015, 10:04 am
anony from brooklyn says:
The guy was not drunk. most are talking about it except this one stupid guy yell it out loud and ruined the kx3 party. Dont try to cover it up saying his drunk. He knew exactly what his saying. It was 5% about illegal conversion 95% about how to hurt and scare new owners away. Complainting about neighborhood growth and changes and in the mean time trying to embarass the buildings department. give me a break. i love the building department. I think they are doing a great job with what they have. Imagine they want to set some examples to current new owners to scare future buyers. Isnt that a little gangsterish? Unbelievable people just dont want any change at all regardless if new owners do it legally or not. Its unfortunate stuff like this is happening in 2015 in a neighborhood that started with immigrants. You guys and girls should be ashamed of yourself.
March 4, 2015, 12:56 pm
Mark from Maspeth says:
Look at that. 2 articles in 2 weeks that feature racism. Either the editors or the readers are real pieces of work.
March 4, 2015, 2:22 pm
Joe from Red Hook says:
White people are racist? Not a surprise.
March 5, 2015, 11:30 am
Joe from Bk says:
Leave it to white people to blame everyone else but overlook the problem when their own white peers are doing the same and screwing then even harder.
March 5, 2015, 3:20 pm
Biff from North Bodega Heights says:
Why can't everyone who grew up in Brooklyn move to the North Pole! I hate all of them! They don't belong in my adopted home town! I went to vassar! They're all stupid! And they put mustard on their sammies! Who does that?!?!?!?
March 8, 2015, 5:47 pm

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