The Brooklyn Democratic Party is embroiled in a civil war after its leader suggested whiter neighborhoods in the borough are not shouldering their fair share of migrant shelters.
City Councilman Justin Brannan likened Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairwoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn to his “MAGA Republican” opponent, Ari Kagan, after Bichotte Hermelyn’s race comments last week.
The party chairwoman’s statement specifically mentioned the Fort Hamilton Army base and the Bay Ridge neighborhood in Brannan’s district.
“The recent statement from the Brooklyn Democratic boss regarding the migrant crisis was unsolicited, unhelpful and divisive,” Brannan raged The Post on Sunday.
“On this issue, she speaks for herself; she certainly doesn’t speak for the entire Brooklyn Democratic Party because her tactics appear no different than the constant fear-mongering by my MAGA Republican opponent, Ari Kagan,” Brannan said. “During a time like this, this type of divide and conquer demagoguery is unacceptable no matter which party you belong to.”
Kagan, a Democrat-turned-Republican city councilman, is running against Brannan in a reconfigured district that includes the Fort Hamilton Army base and Bay Ridge.
“Our compassion is endless, but our resources are not,” Brannan said. “Managing and financing an international migrant crisis is the responsibility of the federal government, not New York City taxpayers.
Endlessly sheltering migrants here is not the answer.
“Instead, we must focus our collective efforts on expanding TPS [temporary protective status] eligibility and allowing asylees to work so they can become self-sufficient and contribute to our economy by paying taxes,” he said.
“This crisis calls for unflappable leaders with a compassionate plan, not wild, panicked,
scattershot suggestions. Instead of singling out communities, pitting Brooklyn neighborhoods
against each other and engaging in thinly veiled class warfare, Democrats should all be focused
on solutions to help migrants get on their own two feet and relieve New York City from the
weight of this intentional humanitarian crisis,” Brannan said.
“This is no time to play politics. Democrats need to stand up to other Democrats when they are wrong,” he said.
But Bichotte Hermelyn stood her ground Sunday, saying lower income, minority communities in Brooklyn have shouldered a disproportionate number of housing shelters — both before and after the migrant crisis.
“It is disappointing that my Democratic colleague and senior City Council leader Justin Brannan, who has stood with the City Council Progressive Caucus and with Democrats throughout New York on embracing the migrants and asylum seekers, has misconstrued our call for equitable help on a citywide issue that requires aid from all neighborhoods,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, who also is a state assemblywoman.
“The Brooklyn Democratic Party has been consistently messaging the concerns of elected officials and party members on the disparities in migrant aid,” she said. “Low income communities and communities of color have been shouldering the brunt of shelters for years, far before the migrant crisis, and this exacerbates a longstanding issue.
“The overwhelming feedback from our Democratic Party members pointed out that communities such as Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton and Brooklyn Heights have yet to see a shelter, while low-income communities with massive inequities are overwhelmed with them,” she added.
The party leader said she and other Brooklyn Democrats “have been outspoken critics of MAGA Republicans and are working nonstop to defeat their divisive and intolerant candidates in the elections as we work to solve this crisis.
“I look forward to working together with my fellow Democrat Justin Brannan in supporting the migrants and making sure they are housed safely in places like Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn Heights, Manhattan Beach and others that as of today have no shelters and can spare the resources,” the party chief said.
Brannan also accused Kagan of lying about his position on the use of the Fort Hamilton Army base as a migrant shelter in a campaign text.
“Justin Brannan wants the city to consider using Fort Hamilton as a shelter,” the political text says. “We must secure the border, not house unknown individuals on military bases. Vote Brannan out on November 7. Paid for by Ari 2023.”
Brannan said he didn’t advocate use of the Fort Hamilton base — Bichotte did — and it’s never been under consideration.
“Fort Hamilton Army Base in my district – the only active-duty military installation in New York
City – is not being used to house migrants. I’ve spoken directly with representatives from the
Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, and it was never even on the table,” Brannan said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office confirmed to The Post recently that Fort Hamilton was never offered by the federal government as a potential site for asylum seekers.
Kagan on Sunday defended his attack against Brannan, insisting his Democratic rival has never publicly declared opposition to shelters in the district.
“Brannan has never said, “I oppose migrant shelters in the district.’ I have,” Kagan said. “He wants to have have it both ways.”