• October 18, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Honk, honk — rally targets speeders

Woodhaven Blvd. drivers get a late-night reminder to slow down

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:30 am

Long after dark, when the traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard dies down and the speed of cars picks up, drivers last Friday got a surprise.

More than 20 people lined the traffic median strips at 91st Avenue waving signs that said a man had been killed three weeks earlier crossing the boulevard at that spot and asking them to slow down.

It was an unusual protest, if only for the hour that it began, 11 p.m.

The demonstration was as grassroots as it gets, organized by Woodhaven civic activist Ed Wendell with his friends and neighbors following the death of a 56-year-old Dunkin’ Donuts worker who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the early morning hours of July 25.

The strategic protest was staged at the spot where Sivananaintha Perumal, a native of India who had left his family behind to work in America more than decade ago, was killed.

When the traffic lights on the boulevard turned red, the protesters walked onto the crosswalk and silently held their signs up for stopped motorists to see.

“The car was going 92 mph,” read one of the protest signs.

“Speed kills people like us,” read another.

The protesters scurried back to safety before the lights changed back to green.

“The cars are flying at that hour,” said Wendell. “It’s a scary place to be.”

The size of the group was purposefully kept to a minimum, said Wendell, because of the possible dangers.

“I was worried about too many people going out onto the boulevard at one time,” he said.

While some drivers at that hour seemed surprised to see the protesters, said Wendell, “most people just sat there.

“A lot of people who went by beeped. And there were a few jerks,” he said, who made a show of gunning their motors and pulling away quickly when the traffic light changed.

“We’re going to do it again, definitely,” said Wendell.

“Next time, I’d like to do it at 4 or 5 in the morning,” he said. “That’s when you will catch a lot of people” with the message to slow down.

He added that the demonstrators hoped city officials would kick up traffic enforcement during the late hours.

“If they just scheduled an officer to be here twice a week at that hour, they’d catch a bunch of people,” Wendell said.

“I bet those flashing lights of someone getting pulled over would set an example for all the other drivers.”

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