Tag Archive | "Shaukat Hamdani"

Ethnic America Goes to the Polls

Reporters from the New York Torch visited polling places in the New York City and Jersey City area to ask first-time voters from ethnic communities about their experiences, opinions and hopes for America.

Click on the pictures to know their stories.

Reporting by Mea Ashley, Yvonne Bang, Magdalene Castro, William Denselow, Shaukat Hamdani, Colleen McKown, Michael Orr, MaryAlice Parks, Nia Phillips, Griselda Ramirez, Rebecca Sanchez and Charlotte Stafford.
Edited by Jay Devineni, Lorelai Germain, Stephen Jiwanmall, Ntshepeng Motema and Christina Thorne.
Complied by Dhiya Kuriakose.

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Cancer Patient Makes it to the Polls

Gladys Kamara, a 56-year-old woman with cancer, said that not even her deteriorating health would keep her from the polls. Healthcare, she said, is one of the reasons she is so adamant to vote.

Reporting by Shaukat Hamdani

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Voting in Staten Island

Multilingual voting signs lined the walls and fence outside the P.S. 57 Hubert H. Humphrey school in Clifton, Staten Island to guide the voters to the ballot inside the school. The area around the school, sometimes referred to as “Little Liberia,” is a mix of several different ethnic communities but it mostly consists of people from Western Africa.

Standing outside the mandatory 100 feet radius designated a “No Electioneering” zone,  Chrisida Howard  distributed pamphlets in support of Democratic candidates and explained to passers-by   how to properly fill in the ballot, regardless of who they were voting for. “Voting,” she said, “is everyone’s right.”

Shaukat Hamdani was there to capture her story.

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[VIDEO] Africans in Central Harlem support Obama

Popular polls are showing that the race to the White House will go down the wire. For New York’s African population the support is more one-sided. Africans living in central Harlem are making it clear who has their support. Ntshepeng Motema has the story.

Edited and produced by Shaukat Hamdani


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Nightmare commute between Manhattan and Brooklyn for thousands

By Shaukat Hamdani

Brooklynites are notoriously tough characters, but the post-Sandy traffic mess got to many of them. “Nightmarish transfer” and “I ain’t doing this tomorrow” were just a few comments passed by thousands of commuters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as they waited in line for a special shuttle bus to Manhattan on Thursday.

Hurricane Sandy had stuck New York City earlier in the week and had sent the public transport system into chaos. While limited service had resumed across the city by Thursday there was still no subway between Brooklyn and Manhattan. To add too that the New York state government, fearing a gridlock in the City, had announced that only cars with carpool would be allowed to cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan through the bridges.

This meant a lot of people would be using the free shuttle service from multiple locations in Brooklyn to Manhattan to get to work. The scene at the Barclays Center confirmed that notion. It took me around three and half hours to get from South Beach, Staten Island to Columbia University. The major point of delay was at the new Barclays Center where I had to wait for more than an hour to get onto the bus. The line extended a full circle around the stadium and three-quarters of the way back.

The huge line frustrated many commuters who were already getting late for work.  A man who identified himself only as Victor was commuting from Bay Ridge Brooklyn to 59th Street in Manhattan. “I am about to give up on the line, I am frustrated” Victor, 41, exclaimed. But he understood the situation that the MTA was facing. “What they gonna do, their trains are flooded,” Victor added. He arrived in his car but he was not allowed to cross the Manhattan Bridge because he was alone. The police were only allowing cars with three or more people to pass. Victor made sure he had pictures to show his boss. “When my boss asks me why are you so late, I can show them to him and say this is why,” Victor joked.

Another frustrated commuter was overheard regretting that he hadn’t thought of picking up  “ two random people” and driven over the bridge.

Most people in the line patiently, or impatiently, waited their turn, others tried to push ahead or cut the line. This lead to some explosive situations with a lot of colorful language being exchanged between the annoyed travelers. Eventually more police and MTA officials had to be deployed to ensure that people do not skip in front of the lines.

While the chaos and increased travel time was bothering many commuters, Dayshawne Sullivan said that he expected this to happen. “You can get mad but you know it was going to happen when the hurricane came,” said Sullivan, 22.  Sullivan was commuting from New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn to Grand Central station. He wasn’t happy about the wait, but he did express appreciation for the MTA’s decision to waive the fare for Thursday and Friday.

“It shows consideration for the city’s people and it’s their way of saying sorry,” Sullivan said. “ They are saying go through this and you can ride the bus for free.”



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Staten Island Resident Swims During Sandy Surge to Save His Life

by Shaukat Hamdani

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Arrochar and South Beach neighborhoods of Staten Island assessed the damage, both in property and human life, but they also had their share of miraculous escapes and survivors.  Roy Millington, 53, was the talk of Father Capadanno Blvd.  after he swam from his house to the home of his friends a couple of houses down to escape the surge of water coming from the Atlantic Ocean.

Millington had just gotten back from work around 5:30 Monday evening when he started to notice that the water around his house was rising fast. He lived in a basement apartment and hurried to the first floor. Millington said that he could see the waves coming and did not want to risk being stuck in the house so he swam to his friends home which was higher up. Despite having impressed his neighbors, Millington was humble about his feat.

“I love to swim, I am from Guyana, that’s my hobby,” joked Millington.

While Millington escaped on his own, many who were trapped during the storm were saved by New York City police and fire officers.  Logan Amos, 25, was evacuated by the police from his home on Doty Avenue, just off Father Capadanno Blvd. Amos recalls that around 8:30 p.m. Monday night he began to notice that the water was rising fast and he realized that he was in trouble. Amos and his family began gathering important objects to salvage and also started dialing 911. Amos said that while it took several hours for him to get in touch with the 911 operators he is glad that help eventually came by 1:30 a.m. “I thought I would drown in my home,” Amos said.

Despite being in a mandatory evacuation zone Amos said he does not regret not heeding the evacuation warning because he was able to salvage a lot of important stuff by staying back. However he does admit that he and his family had underestimated Sandy and almost paid the price for it. “Everyone thought it was going to be like Irene,” Amos said, “boy were we wrong.”


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Sandy causes Destruction near South Beach, Staten Island

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Soccer: More than just a game for Liberians

The winner’s trophy on display

by Shaukat Hamdani, Liberian Beat Reporter —

Staten Island’s Liberian community is abuzz over the upcoming rematch of its soccer league’s championship match. But the game represents far more than a typical finale, several Liberians said. The league is the glue that unites this community scarred by an ethnic civil war.

The Staten Island Liberian County League has come a long way since it was founded in 1997. While eight teams are from Staten Island, the league now also has one team from Newark, New Jersey and one from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sulaiman Tunis, the founder of the Staten Island Liberian County League, said he began the league after kids from the community came to him in the summer of 1997 and said that they were getting bored and needed a soccer league.

However this league is not just about keeping teenagers and young adults out of boredom in the summers, but it also plays two very important social roles according to several members of the Liberian community. It keeps kids off the streets, which also reduces the crime rate, and it also unites the Liberian community.

“Kids are always in the streets selling drugs, but at this particular time they will suspend whatever they are doing and concentrate on the soccer league,” Tunis said.

He also mentions that gun violence has been an issue in the community, with kids shooting one another.

“But while we (are) doing this, they will stop all of that and concentrate on the game. Then a period of time will pass, without no crime report to the police force,” Tunis added.

Spectators enjoying the game

Many of the members of the Liberian community left their homeland because of two ethnic civil wars back home. Several members of the Liberian community agree that soccer is doing a good job in uniting the Liberian community and defusing tension between people.

Teah Jackson, who graduated from college in 2008 with a college degree in accounting and is a member of the Staten Island Liberian Community Association, plays in the league, and he emphasized the importance of soccer in the community.

“Soccer is a big help to our community, to our people, our country,” said Jackson. “Soccer eases your problem, because when you come on the field, you put all that stress on the soccer ball, instead of putting it on somebody. So we use soccer to create peace, we use soccer to create family.”But soccer serving a role as a unifying source is not something exclusive to the Liberian community of Staten Island.“Even when the civil war went on in Liberia, this is one of the sources that were used to bring them together, to unite them,” said Tunis, speaking of the importance of soccer.

Tunis also added that the soccer field is a place where friendships between members of the Staten Island Liberian community begin and continue.

A festive atmosphere surrounded the original championship match on September 3rd. Music blared from the sidelines at the Stapleton playground as a crowd of over 200 Liberians from different ethnic backgrounds gathered to watch the match, a sign that soccer transcends the conflicts at home. The game pitted Staten Island’s Grand Gedeh against Lofa, of Newark. The crowd exuded passion, shouting at the refs and giving informal play-by-play commentary.

Melvin Saah, goalkeeper for Grand Gedeh, makes a crucial save

Still, the soccer game was fiercely contested. It ended in a controversial 1-1 draw after  Grand Gedeh equalized in injury time. Lofa players complained that the game should have been over before the equalizing goal, but the result stood, forcing a rematch scheduled for Sunday.

This time the captain of Grand Gedeh, Charles Dukley, is confident of victory. “The team from Jersey had really good players, but my team wasn’t totally ready, because couple of my players were injured,” Dukley said. “But this coming game I have confidence in my team that we are going to win.”

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