Yock targeted in Special Forces assault

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

Yes, we too have covert operations; special forces that work undercover, out of the eyes of the public. Case in point, the Phoenix Bank Maneuver. This derelict building was almost unnoticed on Washington (East) for decades, second floor empty except for the pigeons, squatters who whitewash their surroundings. They enter and exit through broken windows, such is the condition of the building. A gentleman out of town owned it and wanted to dump it. You will remember that Andy Damiani offered to buy it and his offer was accepted. However, our Special Forces were flown in. The City wanted that decrepit historic relic to become a museum for a people that originated in Africa. Quite suddenly Mr. Damiani’s check was returned.

Surely it was a coincidence that the City later purchased it from a Mr. Jackson, at a much higher price than Damiani offered. But being the gentleman he is Mr. Damiani merely chalked it up to his experiences as a landlord. Councilman Brown had had his way and progress could now be made toward transforming this gem into a museum to honor black history. But there was another obstacle in the path, Mr. Yuen’s chicken-take-out, and he still had a three-year verbal lease on the premises. What to do? Easy, city Special Forces were ordered on a dangerous mission; take him out. You must remember that what I write on this subject is merely opinion, but methinks the Health Department and Inspection Department were also part of that special task force.

Who currently owns the building? The city of Suffolk does and is responsible for its deplorable condition, responsible for cleaning up the pigeon’s mess. The landlord is always responsible, not the tenant. The landlord should plug the windows and clean up the pigeon poop less it become a hazard to the public purchasing chicken yock. But, in spite of a three-year lease, the place was boarded up. It has been the custom for building and health inspectors to list the items that need to be corrected, serve warning, and allow time for corrective measures. Nope, he was boarded up. Mr. Yuen, who speaks no English, is also too polite, too old, too uninformed, and unequipped to take on the City.

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He is at great risk to lose his livelihood if another place of business cannot be found in the vicinity of his customers, but nearby landlords with space available have already turned him down. And if the intimidation of inspectors couldn’t force him out they figure they have an ace up the sleeve they can play – they must tear up his sidewalk to install underground wires. It is doubtful, however, that this would deter his chicken yock buyers.

These shenanigans may not be the American way but on the surface it appears to be the Suffolk way. Remember the fish market? If you are in the way of city plans, lookout!

Perhaps city officials will sleep better if they now help Mr. Yuen solve his problem. Someone should jump on his side; things are pretty well lined up against the old man.

If I were a member of the black community I’d be raising hell two ways. One reason would be for shafting the old Chinese gentleman. The other is for expecting us to settle for this small salvageable building, and this location, to honor our History and Heritage. Should it be on East Washington, because many of us live in that area? How about a sign over the door reading &uot;Colored Only.&uot; Almost half of Suffolk citizens are African-Americans and if there is to be a museum let it be where the all those tourists will visit it.

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Now that Oprah has given birth to Dr. Phil, hordes of citizens show up on TV daily badly in need of common sense. Most people don’t have a clue about what’s wrong with their puzzling situation. Others know what to do but don’t have what it takes to &uot;just do it.&uot; Only Dr. Phil can turn things around. Are we becoming a nation of weak-minded people unable to think for ourselves, but a television guru can cure our ills with a tongue-lashing? Phil reminds me of that preacher who with a push on the forehead can cure a believer’s hemorrhoids.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald