De Blasio Holds Education Town Hall In Queens

Originally published in the Gotham Gazette.

On Thursday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio held his second traditional town hall, this time taking questions at a school in Jackson Heights, Queens. De Blasio was hosted by City Council Member Danny Dromm, a de Blasio ally whom the mayor has worked with on education policy, the municipal ID legislation, and more. Dromm is the chair of the Council’s education committee and warmly introduced both de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

Dromm, de Blasio, and Fariña highlighted policies of the administration, including universal pre-kindergarten, community schools, and expansion of computer science courses. They also lauded a new approach to struggling schools and to respecting teachers.

Audience members queried de Blasio and company on school overcrowding, a major issues in Queens, as well as charter schools, parent engagement, and school safety policies – often asking questions through a critical frame. De Blasio handled the questions well, showing strong command of policy and deferring to Fariña as needed.

When pushed at one point on charter schools, de Blasio said: “We’ll work with anyone. Our job is to lift up every school. Parents in some cases are looking for a different option because they don’t have faith in their neighborhood school, that is not an acceptable state of affairs. That is why we plan to entirely change this school system.”

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Mayor de Blasio to Hold Town Hall on Education in Jackson Heights Thursday

By Bill Parry

Originally published in the Times Ledger on November 11, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a town hall meeting on education Thursday at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina, several DOE officials and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the Council’s Education Committee, are expected to attend.

The auditorium at the school, located at 77-02 37th Ave., has a capacity of only 300. City Hall spokesman Wiley Norville suggested that residents call Dromm’s office at 718-803-6373 to get their name on a guest list.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and after opening remarks at 7 p.m. the mayor will start a question-and-answer period. There will also be staff on hand to provide information and assist families with casework.

This will be the mayor’s second town hall meeting since he took office in 2014.

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Democrat Dromm Visits Republican Club

September 30, 2015

Originally published by the Queens Gazette

Democratic City Council Member Daniel Dromm (Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) poses with members of the America’s Mayor Republican Club, including leader Myrna Littlewort and Club President Ray Hummel at their meeting in Jackson Heights.

Democratic City Council Member Daniel Dromm (Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) poses with members of the America’s Mayor Republican Club, including leader Myrna Littlewort and Club President Ray Hummel at their meeting in Jackson Heights.

Democratic City Council Member Daniel Dromm (Jackson HeightsElmhurst) recently spoke to members of the America’s Mayor Republican Club at Community Methodist Church in Jackson Heights, where he addressed a host of topics ranging from the city budget to quality of life issues affecting his district.

“All of these club members are my friends, neighbors and constituents,” said Dromm. “I greatly appreciate their input and concern for Jackson HeightsElmhurst and beyond. I am pleased to have been invited to speak with them and discuss ways in which we can serve the community together.”

Dromm is proud to have a very good working relationship with Republican District Leader Myrna Littlewort, a long-time member and founder of America’s Mayor Republican Club who also serves on Community Board 4 Queens. Dromm spoke at the club’s monthly meeting at Littlewort’s and Club President Ray Hummel’s request.

“Republicans or Democrats – it doesn’t matter,” Dromm said. “People have many shared interests and as a Council Member for all the people, I want to address their needs. It was a great evening!”

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Calls To Close Down Rikers Island Are Getting Louder

A New York City Council member wants to talk about “abolishing” the jail “completely.”

Christopher Mathias
National Reporter, The Huffington Post

Posted: 09/09/2015 02:12 PM EDT

NEW YORK — Tear down Rikers Island.

That idea — to close one of the country’s largest jail complexes — has in recent months inspired op-eds, protest signs and a hashtag. On Wednesday, the idea got the endorsement of a New York City lawmaker.

“Ultimately, what we should really be talking about is abolishing Rikers Island completely,” City Council member Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) told reporters outside City Hall in lower Manhattan.

CREDIT: WILLIAM ALATRISTE/NYC COUNCIL City Council member Daniel Dromm (D-Queens)

CREDIT: WILLIAM ALATRISTE/NYC COUNCIL
City Council member Daniel Dromm (D-Queens)

Dromm, who was speaking at a rally against a measure to limit visitors to Rikers, explained that the biggest problem facing the jail complex is the sheer density of people on the island.

A daily average of 11,000 inmates — the majority of whom are pretrial detainees, and the rest of whom are serving sentences of less than one year — are packed into 10 jail facilities on the 400-acre island, along with 9,000 correction employees and 1,500 civilian administrators.

“I don’t have a plan, per se, written to abolish Rikers Island at this point, but what we do know about Rikers Island is that because of the large numbers of people that are there, that’s a major factor in terms of the violence that occurs,” Dromm said. “So if we could break that down and spread it out, we’d be in a much better position in terms of reducing violent attacks.”

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13:  Aerial view of Rikers Island.  (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 13: Aerial view of Rikers Island. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

This idea — to disperse New York City’s inmate population across different facilities — was floated in an editorial last month by The Marshall Project’s Neil Barsky.

“If our courts were speedier, our bail system not so rigged against the poor and our mental health and drug rehabilitation programs properly funded, Rikers and other jails might be manageable,” Barsky wrote in his column, which also appeared in The New York Times. “Instead, Rikers and big city jails around the country have become notorious dumping grounds for the impoverished, the addicted and the mentally ill.”

Indeed, about 38 percent of inmates on Rikers have some form of mental illness, and the mentally ill population on the island surpasses that of New York state’s 24 psychiatric hospitals combined.

“The reality is that the only way to transform Rikers is to destroy it; it needs to be permanently closed,” Barsky’s column continued. “The buildings are crumbling. The guard culture of prisoner abuse and the gang culture of violence are ingrained. The complex is New York’s Guantánamo Bay: a secluded island, beyond the gaze of watchdogs, where the Constitution is no guide. It is a place that has outlived its usefulness.”

Martin Horn, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction and now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has also called for Rikers to be closed.

“The city must move away from its reliance on Rikers Island,” Horn wrote in a June editorial for The Marshall Project. “Jails should be close to the communities they serve and the courthouses where prisoners’ cases are heard. It requires political courage for the city to address these issues and bring sanity to the jails. It will take money and leadership. There is no alternative, because our jails are a reflection of our collective conscience, and if they remain as they are, the fault is ours.”

Rikers has been plagued by scandal, corruption, violence and sometimes death since jail facilities were first established there some 80 years ago.

But there’s been a recent groundswell of support in New York for bringing big changes to the island, especially after a scathing U.S. Justice Department report last year that described the “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force” by guards against teenage inmates there.

Similarly, the story of Kalief Browder — the young man from the Bronx who spent three years at Rikers awaiting trial on robbery charges that were ultimately dismissed — shocked the country, and inspired Mayor Bill de Blasio to implement reforms to the city’s bail system, which is what kept Browder locked up in the first place.

Browder, who was starved and beaten by guards and assaulted by fellow inmates, and who spent an accumulated and torturous two years in solitary confinement, took his own life in June. He was 22. His family blamed his time on Rikers for his suicide.

CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER MATHIAS/THE HUFFINGTON POST Flowers are scattered across a photo of Kalief Browder, who took his own life in June at the age of 22.

CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER MATHIAS/THE HUFFINGTON POST
Flowers are scattered across a photo of Kalief Browder, who took his own life in June at the age of 22.

Since taking office last year, de Blasio has worked with Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte to introduce a series of sweeping reforms for Rikers: curtailing the use of solitary confinement (and abolishing it for inmates under 21), introducing supervised release programs for inmates, restricting the use of force by guards, keeping better records and installing thousands more surveillance cameras around the jail, among other changes.

Additionally, the City Council is setting up a bail fund for low-level defendants.

But horror stories about the conditions at Rikers persist, and for leading prison reform advocates like Glenn Martin, president of JustLeadershipUSA — an organization that aims to reduce America’s prison population by half — serious change is long overdue.

In a statement to The Huffington Post Wednesday, Martin said that “increasingly, and especially over the last six [to] eight months, the demand to #CloseRikers — a demand put forth by JLUSA on day one of the de Blasio Administration — is becoming normalized in some elite spaces.”

Martin called these developments “exciting,” but added that one need only recall the previous failed efforts to close Rikers — under former Mayors Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg — to understand that without community engagement and support, the goal is “impossible.”

“With so much attention on Rikers, with growing discussions about solutions, we have a unique opportunity to #CloseRikers,” Martin said. “Without question, closing Rikers would serve to advance justice and human rights in New York City. And the profound symbolism of closing the nation’s largest jail complex would serve to charge and energize the broader movement to end mass incarceration.”

Martin added that there are many questions that still need to be answered.

“Will more community supervision be used, and can this reduce the population enough to close Rikers?” he said. “Or will new facilities have to be built? And if so, will they build new facilities in Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn (and face the same NIMBY’ism [not-in-my-backyard] that stopped the last effort), or build a single new facility in Staten Island (and face the same NIMBYism)? Will reducing racial disparities and addressing the legacy of abuse be part of the plan to #CloseRikers? What role will bail reform play in the overall effort? And what will become of Rikers Island once the corrections facility is closed?”

Dromm said Wednesday that he has no immediate plans to introduce legislation that would abolish Rikers, but that he is working on a series of bills to make further reforms there.

“The level of understanding among all the council members [has] grown, and I think that there is a tremendous amount of support for further reforms at Rikers Island,” Dromm said, when asked if his colleagues also supported closing the jail. “And we’re going to see that probably in some of the pieces of legislation that are coming out.”

Last month, another City Council member, Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), tweeted a link to Barsky’s op-ed at The New York Times.

In a statement to HuffPost, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said Wednesday that “there have been a number of big, long-term ideas floated to reform the city’s jail system.”

“Right now, Commissioner Ponte is undertaking dramatic reforms to create a safer and more secure jail each day,” the spokeswoman continued, “including ending punitive segregation for 16 and 17-year-olds, launching a new housing tool to separate the most violent inmates, and tripling the number of security cameras on the Island.”

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Jackson Heights Post: Anti-gay fliers are being distributed in Jackson Heights

By Jackson Heights Post

Photo Credit: Jackson Heights Post

By Michael Florio

Anti-gay fliers were distributed throughout sections of Jackson Heights over the weekend.

On Monday some could still be found on car windows along 82nd Street near the intersection of 34th Avenue.

The fliers, written in English and Spanish, quote Romans 1:18-32, which in part reads:

“Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error… deserve to die.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm, a key figure in the LGBT movement, said it was disturbing that the fliers were being distributed.

“It is deplorable and disgusting,” he said. “It’s wrong and needs to be condemned.”

Dromm said he was surprised to learn that the fliers had been distributed in Jackson Heights, a diverse and inclusive neighborhood. However, he said that there are still some people living in the community who are anti LGBT.

“It is frightening when you first see stuff like this,” Dromm said. “However, I, and all gay people, have learned to live with this hatred.”

Dromm said it is important that residents speak out against these acts.

“We have to teach that love is a good thing,” he said. “We have to eradicate this hatred against gay people.”

He added that the use of religion against gay people has been a huge problem for centuries.

Reports about the fliers were first posted on Jackson Heights Life, a neighborhood forum.

One user, Superclam, wrote that the fliers were placed under every apartment door in his building. He wrote that he didn’t read past the first couple of sentences after realizing what it was.

Dromm received two complaints from constituents who were disturbed by the fliers. He forwarded the complaints to the Commanding Officer at the 115th Precinct, who told Dromm that officers would investigate the matter.

However, Dromm said legally he does not believe anything can be done. His understanding is the biggest punishment for those distributing the fliers is a littering ticket if they are caught in the act.

Read more here.

Photo Credit: Jackson Heights Post

Photo Credit: Jackson Heights Post

Times Ledger: Dromm has boro’s best Council attendance

By Sadef Ali Kully

The gold star for best City Council attendance record for Queens elected officials goes to Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), a former public school teacher, and the worst attendance record goes to Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), according to the latest City Council records.

Since January 2014, the official start time of a City Council member under the de Blasio administration, Dromm has had a total of three absences to date, while Wills has had a total of 48 absences to date.

The second best attendance record, after Dromm’s, belongs to Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), who has had a total of four absences. The Queens Council member with the second-largest number of absences was Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), many of which were due to a sick leave she took last October.

The absences counted include excused, sick-leave, bereavement and scheduling-conflict-related absences.

Seven Queens City Council members out of 13 had fewer than 10 absences.Those with more than 10 absences averaged an estimated 23 days of absence from January 2014 through July 23.

Here is a list for the rest of Queens City Council members with the number of absences: Costa Constanides (D-Astoria) 11; Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) 8; Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) 21; Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) 22; Peter Koo (D-Flushing) 6; I. Daneek Miller (D-St.Albans) 9; Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) 16; Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) 8; and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) had six absences.

A City Council source said during the months of July and August hearings and meetings slow down, which is usually after the budget agreement between the mayor’s office and the City Council, but there is no official vacation shutdown.

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DNAinfo: Landmarks Dept. Delays Vote on Jackson Heights Historic District Addition

 The corner of 37th Avenue and 85th Street in Jackson Heights, where the owner filed to build a building on the roof.

By Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — Developers behind a controversial bid to construct apartments above a one-story building in the Historic District presented their plan to theLandmarks Preservation Commission for the first time on Tuesday — and were told to come back at a later date with more information.

Charles Knight, a project manager from Architects Studio PC, showed renderings for the planned four-story addition on top of 84-11 37th Ave., in Jackson Heights’ Historic District, at the Manhattan hearing.

Developers have presented the plan to Community Board 3 five times in two years, they said, but after the board unanimously voted against it in April, developers decided to present to Landmarks for the first time, they said.

Dozens of residents showed up to oppose the project, armed with letters, printouts of emails and petitions, with more than 1,000 signatures. Critics who spoke out at Tuesday’s hearing —  including Councilman Danny Dromm, local real estate agent and neighborhood historian Daniel Karatzas, Community Board 3 members and longtime residents — warned the construction plan is out of character for the area.

“The Commission should honor the vision of the original planners of the Jackson Heights community, the intent of the 1993 Landmark designation, and the broad community opposition to this plan,” Dromm said.

Officials from the Landmarks Preservation Commission suggested the developers bring more information about other multi-story buildings in the area to a future hearing.

Many were curious about the original intent for the low-density commercial strip of 37th Avenue, part of the planned community designed and built by the Queensboro Corporation.

They also suggested the commissioners visit Jackson Heights’ historic district to observe other tall buildings in the area.

After the hearing, which lasted hours, many residents said they felt relieved at how everything went, despite not having a resolution.

“It’s a moral victory,” CB 3 member Edwin Westley said.

The date of the next public hearing has not been scheduled yet, officials said.

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International Business Times: Kalief Browder Suicide: Did Solitary Confinement Kill Him? Advocates On The ‘Torture’ Of Juvenile Detainees At Rikers Island

Kalief2

By Barbara Herman

When New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm first visited Rikers Island three years ago, he entered a cell to get a sense of what it was like to be detained there. It was the same kind of jail cell Kalief Browder was thrown into in 2010, at age 16, after being accused of stealing a backpack.

Although Browder was never convicted, and maintained until the end that he didn’t do it, he spent three years at the notorious New York jail, two in solitary confinement, awaiting trial because his parents couldn’t afford his bail. He attempted suicide several times there. His charges were dismissed — without a trial — and he was released on May 29, 2013, by a judge known for dismissing cases that had been backlogged for years. And even though he was beginning to get his life back together at age 22 and had celebrity advocates including Jay Z and Rosie O’Donnell, Browder committed suicide on Saturday, a tragic coda to a life whose story was powerfully reported by Jennifer Gonnerman of the New Yorker.

It’s hard not to connect his suicide directly with the psychological fallout of being incarcerated for three years in an adult facility, with regular beatings caught on surveillance video by guards and other inmates, and spending two years in solitary confinement. Juan Méndez, of the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, has said unequivocally that juvenile solitary confinement is torture.

“For adolescent inmates, Rikers Island is broken,” U.S. attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara said at a news conference after looking into the conditions for male detainees at Rikers in August. “It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort, a place where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries, where beatings are routine while accountability is rare.”

After the Justice Department gave a scathing review of what they called a “culture of violence” there, Dromm was able to get a bill passed he’d failed to with the Bloomberg administration which called for transparency at Rikers. Last August, the New York City Council approved the bill, which requires corrections officials to publish regular reports posted on the Department of Corrections website about who is in solitary confinement in city jails and at Rikers Island.

And in September, Rikers Island announced it was eliminating solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old detainees. Many questions remain about whether or not the system should be incarcerating 16-year-olds at all, often for minor crimes, or if solitary confinement has a place in the U.S. in the 21st century.

Charles Dickens Meets Guantanamo Bay

“It was horrible,” Dromm told International Business Times regarding his brief jail cell visit at Rikers Island. “I still get emotional when I think about what I saw. The conditions Kalief must have endured is hard to describe.”

“It was claustrophobic. It smelled like urine. There was graffiti on the walls and the paint was peeling,” said Dromm. “The bed was filled with dirt, grease, grime, and the blanket was covered with mildew and mold. And this was what they were willing to show me! With one small window and locked doors — I couldn’t imagine spending 23 hours a day there. Imagine being stuck in your bathroom alone for 23 hours a day.”

Although the official word is that detainees can leave their cell for one hour a day, Dromm said 24 hours a day is often the reality for juvenile detainees in solitary confinement. According to Dromm, corrections officers often try to wake detainees at 4 a.m. for their one hour of recreation time, and they often choose to continue sleeping instead. Dromm said he would rather use “detainee” than “inmate,” since Browder, like many other juveniles at Rikers, was there awaiting trial and should have been considered innocent until proven guilty.

The effects of solitary confinement on the human mind have been studied extensively.

Dr. Rami Kaminski, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, has worked with those housed in solitary confinement. “It’s a form of sensory deprivation,” he told IBTimes. “There’s noise, but no interaction with a human voice. That can be extremely scary. We get our reality check from other people.”

Symptoms, some of which show up within hours, include: visual and auditory hallucinations; paranoid thought; regressive breakdowns that cause detainees to throw feces or lay in a fetal position. “It can leave people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They develop panic disorders, claustrophobia,” said Kaminski. “Solitary confinement should not exist. Crowd control doesn’t have to be brutal force. In general, our penal system needs to find cues on how to handle inmates with behavioral psychologists rather than the Spanish Inquisition.”

“Being home is way better than being in jail,” Browder told Gonnerman when she saw him last. “But in my mind right now, I feel like I’m still in jail, because I’m still feeling the side effects from what happened in there.”

Raise The Age

Any day now, a bill might pass in the assembly in Albany, New York that ends the automatic prosecution of 16-to-17-year-olds, raising the age someone can be considered an adult to 18.

New York and North Carolina are the only states that prosecute all youth as adults when they’re 16 years old. In 2013, over 33,000 16-and 17-year-olds were arrested as adults in New York State. And young people housed in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than if they’re housed in juvenile detention centers, according to Raise the Age, which raises awareness about the issue of the incarceration of young people in adult facilities.

For Angelo Pinto of Correctional Association of New York , founded in 1844, who advocates for juveniles in the system, being “tough on crime” doesn’t always yield the intended results.

“Years of research shows that putting a young person in an adult system increases their chances exponentially of ‘recidivating’ or reentering the system,” Pinto told IBTimes. “Brain development research has indicated that the brain doesn’t reach significant development until the age of 25. They’re still in the formative stages. What we’re saying when we put a 16-year-olds in with adults, is: We’re going to take you out of the community and put you in a hyperviolent, restrictive environment, and we expect you not to commit any crimes when you get out.”

For Browder, solitary confinement punctuated by hyperviolence, indefinitely imposed, made him turn violence against himself long after he got out, in spite of all the support he got after his case made headlines.

“Rikers should be shut down completely,” said Dromm. “But 16 – to-18-year-olds, they shouldn’t be there. It’s an easy first step for the administration to take. The torture Kalief endured could have an impact if it’s imprinted in people’s minds. Here’s a 16 year-old-kid, accused of a crime he insisted to his own detriment he didn’t commit. The government didn’t even have a witness against him. I say all New Yorkers are responsible for Kalief’s death. We have a moral obligation to speak up.”

Read more here.

Times Ledger: Dromm’s long battle started Queens Pride

By Bill Parry

When the Queens Pride Parade steps off in Jackson Heights at noon Sunday, memories of the first march 23 years ago will flood back for the event’s founder, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). The award-winning public school teacher at PS 199 turned activist for his LGBT community believes the world has changed since 1993.

“There were police on the rooftops with helicopters circling above 37th Avenue,” Dromm said. “Nobody knew what to expect that day. It was the first time it was done outside of Manhattan and people thought I was crazy.”

Dromm became a notable figure after the gay-bashing murder of Julio Rivera in 1990 that led to candlelight vigils, marches and new gay-rights groups in Jackson Heights. Then came a public battle between Dromm and the District 24 board over using the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum in public schools in 1992. Dromm fought Board President Mary Cummins to use the guide to teach children to respect and appreciate gay people.

That battle turned ugly when Dromm accused the board of creating an atmosphere of intimidation after the members would not accept three pages in the guide because they were contrary to family values.

“Those were some very tumultuous years,” Dromm said. “I received many death threats and I needed a police escort for nearly five years. I even had an order of protection against one individual.”

Many of his supporters in the Jackson Heights LBGT community were not sure the parade was a good idea.

“These were all people who marched every year in Manhattan and they didn’t think it was a good idea to march in Queens,” he said. “They thought it was too close to home.”

That first year more than 10,000 bystanders showed up. Now it’s the second largest Pride celebration in New York City, drawing crowds of 40,000 spectators each year.

“I just believed we had to bring the movement outside Manhattan to where we live,” Dromm said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will serve as grand marshal, along with health care provider APICHA Community Health Center, of the parade that will carry the theme; “Pride-Strength-Unity” as it follows the lavender line down 37th Avenue, from 89th Street to 75th Street. A street festival with more than a hundred vendors will take place at 75th Street and 37th Road and there will be performances on two stages, including CeCe Peniston with her hit “Finally” and other songs from the Festival Stage.

“This year I’m marching with an added sense of pride as an Irish-American gay man,” Dromm said. “To see where we started to where we are now gives me a tremendous feeling, but then you add in what was accomplished in Ireland on May 22, when the population voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. I just never thought I’d live this long to see that we were right all along.”

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Queens Gazette: De Blasio, APICHA Chosen As Pride Parade Grand Marshals


Mayor Bill de Blasio (r.) marches in the 2014 Queens Pride Parade alongside Queens Pride founder and Councilman Daniel Dromm (l.). De Blasio was the first mayor to march in the parade in its 23-year history and will serve as the 2015 Grand Marshal. Multi- Platinum winner CeCe Peniston is the headlining entertainer.

Queens Pride will celebrate the 23rd Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, June 7 in Jackson Heights. “This year’s theme, ‘Pride – Strength – Unity’ highlights the diversity that is Queens. Queens has the largest number of language/ethnic groups in the whole USA. Despite this linguistic and cultural vastness, we all come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue to work towards further advancements” said Alan Reiff, Co-Chair, Queens Pride.

The parade’s Grand Marshals will include Mayor Bill de Blasio and APICHA Health Center. De Blasio was the first Mayor to march in a Queens Pride Parade (2014), as well as having a strong stance on increasing LGBT rights and inclusion in the city. Multi-Platinum singer CeCe Peniston will headline the festival celebrating the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community in Queens.

Councilman Daniel Dromm said,“When I founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago, I was hopeful that we would increase the visibility of the LGBT community in Queens in a positive and impactful way. Having the Mayor of the City of New York as our Grand Marshal shows just how far we have come. The Mayor’s presence is an acknowledgment that the LGBT community in Queens and throughout the city is visible, welcome and included. I’m very proud of all the people who pour countless volunteer hours into making this event so special every year. I look forward to many more years of this celebration of LGBT pride in Queens.”

Read more here.