Progressive Queens lawmaker puzzled after Democratic Socialists protest at home

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City Councilman and Finance Committee chair Danny Dromm. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Jackson Heights is no stranger to protests and rallies, so it was no surprise that Black Lives Matter has marched through the neighborhood several times following the police-involved killing of George Floyd. On June 18, what appeared to be a BLM rally turned into a protest by members of the Democratic Socialists of America with a surprising target.

A group of more than a hundred protesters broke away from a Travers Park rally and made their way several blocks away to the home of Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm, demanding he do more to defund the NYPD during the upcoming budget negotiations between the City Council and the de Blasio administration.

“I wouldn’t say they were dangerous but they were threatening,” Dromm told QNS. “They stood outside my building and chanted ‘if you don’t come down, we’re coming up.’ I knew they weren’t constituents of mine because they were calling me Daniel. In this neighborhood, everyone calls me Danny.”

The most incongruous aspect to the target of the protest, Dromm said, is that he has been leading them since the early 1990s, not targeted by them.

Dromm is a pioneer of the LGBT rights movement in Queens and organized the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival and he has been at the forefront of the criminal justice reform movement but as Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee, Dromm has felt pressure to defund the NYPD.

He was more than surprised to learn that while they carried BLM banners and signs, this protest was led by members of the Democratic Socialists of America.

“Two of them actually got into my building, came up to the second floor, and got to my door and were banging on it as the chants continued outside but before a porter got rid of them they slipped a DSA-NYC action flier under my door,” Dromm said. “These folks were DSA.”

The ultra-left wing of the progressive movement in western Queens had targeted an elected official whose own political actions align closely with the protestors. On police reform alone, Dromm has been a tireless advocate to reform stop and frisk policies, end solitary confinement and bring transparency to the Rikers Island jail complex.

“I believe this protest was totally inappropriate, violated my privacy, and was probably illegal,” Dromm said. “In many ways, I agree with the protesters’ agenda, so I am miffed at why they would choose to protest an ally. The protest was misguided and cost the Democratic Socialists validity in the eyes of most of my constituents.”

Dromm called on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a star in the DSA movement, to condemn the protest but so far only Brooklyn state Senator Julia Salazar, another DSA boldface name, has questioned the logic of protesting at Dromm’s home.

“I don’t think it’s strategic or constructive to aggressively knock on the door of CM Dromm,” Salazar tweeted. “But I won’t endeavor to speak for the DSA’s 66,000+ members, and a few individuals likewise don’t represent the whole decentralized org.”