Monday, July 29, 2013

59 Year-Old Resident of Elliot Chelsea Houses Physically Attacked by City Council Candidate Corey Johnson and Campaign Manager

The following is a press release from the Chelsea Midtown Democratic Club, and reproduced as it was received.

July 29, 2013

The head of the Chelsea Midtown Democratic Club reported today that on Friday evening Thomas Johnson, a 59 year-old resident of the Elliot Chelsea housing projects, who was helping distribute a fact sheet for the club, was physically attacked by City Council candidate Corey Johnson and his campaign manager while another staffer for the campaign waited outside.

On July 26th, 2013, Gene Glaberman, President of the Chelsea Midtown Democrats (CMD) and former board member of the Penn South Co-op, and Velma Murphy Hill, Executive Vice President of the CMD, former assistant to the President of the United Federation of Teachers, civil rights activist and labor leader, wrote a response to a letter distributed the prior week by Mr. Johnson’s supporters. The July 26th letter was a fact check on the previously circulated letter and reposted newspaper articles addressing Corey Johnson's work as a real estate executive, his ties to Mayor Bloomberg and his absence in the fight for St. Vincent’s Hospital.  Attached is a copy of the letter. [See CMD Johnson Facts 1, and CMD Johnson Facts 2]

On Friday, July 27th, at about 2:00 PM, Thomas Johnson, a fifty-nine year old living in the Elliott Chelsea Houses, a development of the New York City Housing Authority, agreed to help distribute the letter in the Penn South co-op. At about 4:00 PM Thomas called to indicate that he had been accosted by a man who told him that he could not distribute the material he was given. The man was menacing and threatened to take and destroy the flyers.

"Thomas Johnson was very shaken up,"  said Velma Hill. "I told him to come back to my apartment so we could talk. I called our president, Eugene Glaberman, who informed me that Corey Johnson has called him earlier that day. He said that Corey was unhinged and abusive--crying and shouting that the letter was filled with lies. He said he thought Gene was his friend but now he would never talk to him again.

"Gene and I tried to comfort Thomas and told him not to return to the co-op and finish the distribution until later when someone would accompany him."  Thomas decided he would go home to the Elliott Chelsea Housing development. At the time, he had no idea that the man who had accosted him in Penn South was the campaign manager of City Council Candidate Corey Johnson.

"At about 8:30 that same evening, I received yet another distraught call from Thomas, who informed me that he had been followed into the NYCHA development by three men, including the one that had threatened him earlier." 

Thomas Johnson didn’t know at the time that the other two men were City Council Candidate Corey Johnson and another campaign worker. "He told me the men confronted him on the 3rd floor of the building, menacing and shouting at him.  They threw him against the wall and Corey Johnson punched him in the chest. He then told Thomas that they were going to call the police and get him arrested, and that the police would believe them and not Thomas. I was shocked to hear this but before I could ask more, Thomas said that the police had arrived and the phone went dead. Gene and I immediately rushed to the Senior Citizen’s building on 27th Drive between 9th and 10th avenues and saw Thomas being interviewed by Sergeant Bufanto and officer Dove of the 10th Precinct."

"Thomas said that the police made him face the wall with his face, hands and arms up against the building because they had been told that he had a weapon. He did not have a weapon and no weapon was found. Corey Johnson and two other men were on the opposite side of the street. Thomas was visibly shaken and we assured him that no harm would come to him. He identified Corey Johnson as the attacker who punched him in the chest. He also identified one of the other men as the man who accosted him in the Penn South Co-op. We later found out that the man who was so menacing in Penn South was Corey Johnson’s campaign manager, Robert John Jordan."

"This incident has left all of us shaken," said Eugene Glaberman, President of the Chelsea Midtown Democrats. "Thomas and our club have every right to distribute political information, just as Corey Johnson does, without fear of physical or verbal attack.  It is shocking that a candidate for elected office would conduct himself this way. No one should be attacking seniors in our community, and these young men, including Corey Johnson, have shown they do not have the temperament necessary for elected office. Violence is never an option, even when you disagree with someone, and freedom of speech and expression must be something our elected leaders protect, not physically threaten."

Velma Hill
Eugene Glaberman

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