Schools opened and closed in the second half of 2020 and so did restaurant dining rooms. Legends were lost. And NYPD detectives reminded all that they never let go of even an 18-year-old murder case.
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) on July 6 called on Mayor de Blasio to fire NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea after Shea blamed Covid-19, new bail reform laws and the emptying out of jails for a 130 percent increase in shootings for the month of June as opposed to June 2019. The NYPD announced that through June murder in the city was up 23.1 percent compared to 2019. Through June 30, there was a 46 percent spike in citywide shooting incidents.
Mayor de Blasio announced the first plan for reopening schools hinged on the idea that most students would only attend in-person classes one to three days a week. Later in the month he pulled back, saying no plan would be unveiled until September.
De Blasio announced July 9 that street fairs, concerts, parades and other events large enough to require a city permit were canceled for the summer. Press conferences and some political protests would be exempted.
The city on July 10 unveiled a bench dedicated to the memory of Aamir Griffin at the Baisley Park Houses. Aamir, 14, was shot and killed on Oct. 26, 2019 as he played basketball on the housing complex’s playground court. The bench looks over toward the court, and includes a sculpture of a basketball crafted from a bowling ball.
Gov. Cuomo on July 16 issued an executive order halting all sales of alcoholic beverages at bars and restaurants in New York City unless a customer is also buying food. Some enterprising bar owners with typical New York City ingenuity began selling $1 packages of “Cuomo Chips.” The governor, not seeing the humor, ordered that the food must be “substantial.” While the state never really got around to defining the term, bars could still be fined for violating it.
On July 17, two days before the sixth anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, a law banning police officers from using the chokehold that killed him was signed into law, included as part of an NYPD Accountability Package.
Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis in May sparked nationwide protests, attended a gun violence rally in St. Albans’ Roy Wilkins Park. While Floyd did not address the rally, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and Erica Ford, founder of the anti-violence group Life Camp, did.
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) locked up the Democratic nomination for borough president on July 21 when his last remaining opponent, former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, conceded.
The group 100 Suits unveiled a program that provides weekly hot meals for seniors in the Rochdale Village Apartments. Grants also allowed the program to hire a number of teenagers in a summer when the city drastically cut its Summer Youth Employment Program.
Bartlett Dairy, a food distribution company that began in Queens with one milk delivery truck in 1963, purchased 6.15 acres of land near John F. Kennedy International Airport at 161-02 Rockaway Blvd. to begin constructing its new headquarters. It is expected to create 165 jobs.
Hundreds of volunteers turned up on Jamaica Avenue on July 30 to paint a Black Lives Matter mural between 150th and 153rd streets, right in front of the Rufus King Manor Museum to the north. The section of road was co-named Black Lives Matter Way.
Tropical Storm Isaias tore through Queens on Aug. 4 with heavy rains and winds that approached 70 miles per hour at JFK. A Briarwood man was killed when a falling tree crushed the van he was sitting in. More than 49,000 borough residents lost electricity. Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio led a chorus of those criticizing Con Edison’s response.
More than 160 people donated to a blood drive on Aug. 6 and 7 for shooting victim Malachi Capers that was organized by the NYPD’s 105th Precinct and the Detectives’ Endowment Association. Capers, of Hollis, was shot outside a Laurelton deli on July 27.
Correction Officer John Jeff, 28, was shot and killed in Jamaica in the early morning hours of Aug. 15, reportedly after leaving a party. He was shot 11 times.
Two men were charged with the 2002 murder of Jason Mizell, better known as DJ Jam Master Jay of the hip-hop pioneers Run DMC, in a federal indictment unsealed on Aug. 17. Karl Jordan Jr., 36, and Ronald Washington, 56, were charged with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder. Mizell was shot in the head in a Jamaica recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002. Jordan and Washington could face the death penalty if convicted.
Claire Shulman, the first woman to hold the post of Queens borough president, died Aug. 16 at her home at age 94 following a bout with cancer. Shulman, who served from 1986 to 2002, was deputy borough president under Donald Manes and ascended to the office in 1986 when Manes committed suicide while a target of a corruption investigation. Shulman in 2013 told the Chronicle that she proud of what was achieved on her watch, including getting more seats for public schools; establishing or improving major cultural institutions in Queens such as the Queens Museum, the Queens Zoo and the New York Hall of Science; and the expanded Queens Hospital Center.
A gun buyback on Aug. 15 at the Greater Springfield Community Church in South Jamaica resulted in 117 firearms being removed from circulation. It was sponsored by the NYPD and the office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
In a letter to City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg dated Aug. 26, Councilmembers Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), along with state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), asked for the rerouting of a nearly one-mile busway planned for Jamaica Avenue between Sutphin Boulevard and 168th Street. The electeds, community and business leaders believe the route would be more effective one block south on bus-laden Archer Avenue.
Tom Seaver, the baseball Hall of Famer considered the greatest New York Met in team history, passed away Aug. 31 at age 75. Seaver died from complications of Lewy body dementia and Covid-19.
Eleven members of the FDNY who were assigned to Queens were among the 27 added to the department’s memorial wall dedicated to those who died from illnesses caused by work at the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. The ceremony took place in Brooklyn on Sept. 9. They included Firefighters Robert Gless and John O’Brien of Engine Co. 329 in the Rockaways; Capt. Robert Collis of Engine Co. 304 in Queens Village; auto mechanic James Sottile of a department repair shop in Long Island City; Firefighter Joseph Losinno of Engine Co. 302 in Jamaica: Firefighter Roger Espinal of Engine Co. 320 in Flushing; Firefighter Clifford DiMuro of Ladder Co. 137 in Rockaway Park; Firefighter Brian Casse of Engine Co. 294 in Richmond Hill; Lt. Paul Deo Jr. of Engine Co. 317 in St. Albans; Lt. Kevin Dunn of Engine Co. 251 in Glen Oaks; and Firefighter Paul Greco of Squad 270 in Richmond Hill.
New York Mets fans rejoiced on Sept. 14 when it was announced that hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen had reached a deal to purchase the club from the Wilpon family for more than $2.4 billion. The sale would be approved by Major League Baseball owners in November.
The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market in the Bronx, one of the largest distributors of food in the city, donated nearly two tons of fresh fruit and vegetables to a pop-up food pantry on Sept. 15 organized by Councilman Miller’s office and the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church on Merrick Boulevard.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Sept. 19 began what was planned as a six-week shutdown of E train between the Jamaica Center station at Parsons Boulevard-Archer Avenue and the Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue-JFK station to replace more than a mile of track and more than 7,800 feet of third rail. The project would be completed early.
On Sept. 22, the old Public School 48 at 155-02 108 Ave. in South Jamaica was designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The school, designed by Walter Martin and opened in 1936, is now P75Q.
The NYPD named Capt. Igor Pinkhasov as the new commanding officer of the 105th Precinct, which has its headquarters on 222nd Street in Queens Village. His previous command was Transit District 11 in the Bronx, headquartered at the Yankee Stadium subway complex. He replaced Inspector Neteis Gilbert, who was transferred to the Detective Division at 1 Police Plaza.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn on Sept. 27 visited St. Clement Pope on 123rd Avenue in Jamaica, to rededicate the recently renovated church and consecrate the new altar. The church was founded in 1908.
On Sept. 30, indoor dining was once again allowed at New York City restaurants for the first time since March. Seating capacity was limited to 25 percent. Masks and social distancing still were required and dining establishments had rigid rules for ventilation, contact tracing and separation between tables. Restaurateurs still wondered it if would be enough to save many of the businesses on the edge.
Mayor de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) and state Attorney General Letitia James were among the dignitaries on hand Oct. 3 when the city officially renamed Merrick Boulevard for the Rev. Floyd Flake. Flake, 75, has been pastor of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral since 1976 and was a congressman from 1987 to 1997. The congregation has grown from 1,400 when the Los Angeles native was appointed pastor to more than 23,000 today.
Suffolk Construction was awarded the contract for the three-year, $91 million renovation of the Jamaica Armory at the corner of 168th Street and 93rd Avenue. The 1933 structure is home to the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 258th Field Artillery and the 442nd Military Police Co. The project includes a 41,000-square-foot addition and restoration of the 140,000-square-foot facility.
A 24-year-old parolee wanted for the shooting of four people on Sept. 20 was killed Oct. 8 in a shootout with NYPD detectives from the Queens Warrant Squad and officers from the 113th Precinct. Tyran Dent was approached as he left a house in Springfield Gardens and then led officers on a chase of almost a mile before he struck a car. He ran through several yards and attempted to carjack another vehicle before being confronted by officers. He was shot after firing one of two handguns in his possession. Body camera footage released in November shows officers repeatedly ordering him to drop his weapons before shots were fired.
Gov. Cuomo signed a law naming Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Junteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union troops landed in Texas, the last state to learn that the Civil War was over and all slaves were free. It took place more than two months after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant forced the Confederates to surrender at Appomattox, Va.
NYPD Detective Tanya Duhaney of Patrol Borough Queens South and formerly of the 113th Precinct was honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy for her efforts to secure food for the elderly of Southeast Queens during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Archie Spigner, the first African-American to represent Queens on the City Council and a titan in Queens Democratic politics for decades, died Oct. 29. He was 92. Spigner, a South Carolina native and Addisleigh Park resident, was a protegee of Guy R. Brewer. He served on the Council from 1974 to 1992 and ultimately ascended to Brewer’s place as the elder statesman of Southeast Queens politics. His advice and endorsement were sought by any Democrat in the area seriously seeking to run for office. He also kept active — and vocal — in all civic issues of any importance.
Lancman resigned his Council seat effective Nov. 4 to accept a new state post as special counsel for ratepayer protection after being appointed by Gov. Cuomo. Lancman, 51, represents the interests of residential and commercial customers of regulated electric, gas, water and telecommunications companies.
Two pedestrians died on Oct. 30 when an SUV jumped the curb at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and 164th Street. Yuiang Cong, 65, lived on Henley Road in Jamaica Hills. Jashanty Cole, 8, lived on 134th Avenue on Jamaica. Jashanty had just left the Jimmy Jazz clothing store with her family after buying a birthday present for her brother.
Former 31st District Councilman Donovan Richards cruised to election as the new Queens borough president on Nov. 4. He got 67.3 percent of the vote. Republican Joann Ariola earned 30.6 percent and Dao Yin of his own Red Dragon Party received 2.1 percent.
Officials from the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica confirmed that the city’s DOT had agreed to place speed bumps on 116th Avenue and Farmers Boulevard in sections that have been susceptible to speeding. The announcement came exactly one month after the problem areas were brought up by residents at the October meeting of the 113th Precinct Community Council.
Amaury Abreau, an officer assigned to the 113th Precinct, was arrested Oct. 9 on federal charges accusing him of using his expertise and an NYPD computer to assist a drug ring with ties to the Dominican Republic. Allegations date back to 2016. Deputy Inspector Brian Bohannon, commanding officer of the precinct, said Abreau had been assigned to the precinct four months.
After many fits and starts with reopening schools, de Blasio closed all of them to in-person learning as of Nov. 19.
David Dinkins, the Manhattan borough president and career public servant who took down the legendary Mayor Ed Koch in 1989 and then defeated former U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani to become the city’s first African-American mayor, died at his home on Nov. 23. He was 93 years old. Dinkins won on a platform of New York being a “gorgeous mosaic” affirming the hopes and aspirations of all. But he also presided over City Hall during some of the city’s most troublesome times, including the Crown Heights riots, the Korean grocery store boycott, AIDS, the crack epidemic and record high crime rates. He still only narrowly lost to Giuliani in their rematch in 1993.
Officers Christopher Wells and Joseph Murphy of the 105th Precinct were shot and wounded Nov. 24 while helping a domestic violence victim remove belongings from her Springfield Gardens home when the woman’s husband burst in shooting. Wells, who suffered a broken femur, and Murphy, with bullet wounds to both hands, returned fire, killing Rondell Goppy, 41. Both officers were released from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Thanksgiving.
Meeks was elected chairman of the prestigious and influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, replacing Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) who lost a primary in September.
The first vaccines for Covid-19 arrived in Queens, with Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the first Covid-19 vaccination in the U.S. on Dec. 14, a day the hospital’s staff deemed “V-Day.” Healthcare workers were prioritized in the first round of vaccinations.
Councilman Miller reiterated his call for the city to re-examine the new bus lanes along a 6.4-mile stretch of Merrick Boulevard, saying they have led to overzealous enforcement while solving none of the transportation, traffic or business needs that he and others have brought to the attention of the city’s DOT.
Cuomo again vetoed a bill introduced by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park), aimed at using only clean replacement fill in Jamaica Bay.
Cuomo, citing increased positive Covid-19 tests, ordered an end to indoor dining again as of Dec. 14, though by the state’s own numbers bars and restaurants are responsible for only 1.4 percent of the new cases since the fall. Cuomo cited the city’s density as an important factor.
Ingris Coronado, 46, a program manager with the South Queens Park Association, which operates Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, pleaded guilty in federal court on Dec, 11 to stealing “tens of thousands of dollars” with false invoices and falsified worker time sheets.
New York City Deputy Sheriffs on Dec. 21 broke up what they termed an illegal bottle club with more than 160 revelers on 243rd Street in Rosedale. Summonses were issued for building and fire code violations, the lack of a liquor license and violations of Covid-19 regulations.