Approximately 300 people turned up for Tuesday night’s Community Board 15 meeting, where opponents of a Sheepshead Bay mosque were expected to seek the board’s support.
Sheepshead Bites couldn’t make it to the meeting, but we asked GerritsenBeach.net (GB.net) to check it out for us and we’ve also picked up additional details from attendees and board members.
From attendee reports, we’ve learned that of the nearly 300 people who came out, 75 percent were in support of the mosque. GB.net writes, “There was nothing really to report other than this was a show of force. A lot of people who may or may not be from the area in question supporting the mosque.”
Chairperson Theresa Scavo kept the meeting orderly, and even though the issue was not on the agenda they permitted all who asked a chance to speak. In flyers and e-mails, opponents of the religious institution haven’t changed their focus from issues of parking, traffic, and security, but they’ve found a new threat in the group’s ties to the Muslim American Society – a national organization that some say is attempting to establish an Islamic state in the United States. However, only one person spoke out against the mosque at the meeting, focusing on parking problems.
Apparently there were a lot of reporters present, but it doesn’t appear many stories have come out of the meeting. GB.net offers an explanation:
When it came time for the public session, where everyone can speak. Very few spoke and those that did there were no “fireworks” or “gotcha” moments just mostly rational people speaking their mind. A few speakers decided to speak in support of the mosque, one person who spoke out against the mosque and one guy who made no sense at all (turns out he’s running for some office). As usual, Theresa Scavo does an excellent job at keeping the meeting moving and keeping the crowd civil. Her classic “Excuse Me!” keeps everyone civil.
Overall, the board stood by its position that it has no role in the matter. As all authorities have agreed, the mosque owns the property and can build a religious institution and community facility on the land “as of right” – meaning without further approval.
Community Board 15 is rumored to have earned high marks from Councilman Lew Fidler (the only pol in attendance), and several of the more level-headed residents, for keeping perspective on the issue and running an orderly meeting.
Sheepshead Bites has to agree that we’ve been very proud of our board and our civic groups for refusing to fall into a race-baiting battle, and instead focusing on the legal boundaries of what can and can’t be done. At almost every turn, these organizations have shown a resolve to uphold American (and New York) ideals of diversity and tolerance for which the laws were created.
Here are a few videos GB.net shot for us: