Brownsville Reacts to Boyland Guilty Verdict
By Mary Alice Miller
An odd combination of sadness and relief washed over Brownsville in response to the announcement that Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. was convicted of 21 charges related to several attempted extortion schemes. Boyland’s bail was revoked and he was remanded into custody immediately after the jury verdict. Boyland, who has represented Brownsville since 2003, faces up to 80 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.
Many community leaders expressed sadness for Boyland and his family.
“The community grieves such a tragic turn to what many have proudly known as a family dynasty which has contributed so much to the residents of Brownsville, Brooklyn for decades. My prayers go out to the Boyland family,” said Deidre Olivera-Douglas, editor in chief of The Brownsville Collective. “I have faith that we can rise above this blight and continue to move this 55th Assembly District in a forwardly progressive direction.”
Several candidates seeking to fill Boyland’s seat also weighed in.
“I truly wish Mr. Boyland and his family well during these difficult times,” said Tony Herbert, community organizer and president of the Brooklyn East chapter of the National Action Network. “As a longtime resident of the 55th Assembly District, it is time for our district to come together. There are a number of pervasive issues that require immediate attention so there is no time to waste, no time to lose.” Herbert added, “Now the residents of the 55th Assembly District will have a chance to elect new leadership to send to Albany to represent them with honesty and integrity.”
Reflecting on his close relationship with the Boyland family and William, Jr. in particular, (Uncle) Roy Antoine said, “I personally know him well. The sad thing about it is he is a young man. He has a young son. It’s sad. Nobody knows what is going to happen to his son. I know he has grandparents and they will take care of him to the best of their ability. But the father figure is something everyone would love to have, now it will be kept away from the young boy. These are my concerns.”
Antoine continued, “We cannot gloat at another man’s demise because we have to look out for each other and pray for each other. I will not gloat because he is just a human being. The unfortunate thing about it is he will probably have time to repent. I pray God that whatever happens he will endure it and come out stronger than he is now.” He added, “I hope this is a lesson to other people in the community who want to run for politics.”
“They have found him guilty so that means that what was being said about him was actually true. He did not represent us properly in Albany and we should be very mindful of what the past has been like for us in our community and how we have suffered under his leadership,” said community activist Anthony (Basheer) Jones. “The community should be prepared to move forward. We should be careful who we now elect to the NYS Assembly. We should be very mindful that we don’t elect people who may have the same agenda and characteristics as Boyland.”
Jones added, “We have to elect someone who has the passion to want to serve the people. Boyland was a legislator, but he passed no bills. We have people who are City Council members and some of them haven’t passed any bills. Whoever we choose for the seat it’s not so much that they have to have a legislative background, but we need somebody who is honest and will serve the people honestly. Let’s identify what the issues are, what they have been and how we intend to move the community forward in the next 30 years.”
“I was very surprised at the verdict, but we did know there was a problem for a long time. It seems that once everything was laid out on the table justice was served. I don’t like to see anyone go to jail but there are repercussions to the things that you do, especially in a neighborhood such as ours that needed leadership and has needs for a lot of things,” said Daniel Goodine, founder of Men Elevating Leadership and a candidate for 55th AD District Leader. “It was sad that we had someone in office that couldn’t understand the dynamics of the community and what is needed. This is the outcome of the schemes that he had to undermine the community. After hearing how he used the seniors, how he was manipulating permits and giving to developers… I believe those developers as well as any politician who allows this to happen need to be arrested. You are pushing people out of a neighborhood that they have history in. Brownsville, as we know it, will never ever be Brownsville again because developers come in and they know they can go to local individuals and boards and get what they need without a fight. This is what my concern is.”
“My heart and prayers go out to his family, his parents, his son. We have to continue to pray for them during this very difficult time,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, chair of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.
But Camara did reflect on the broader issue of yet another Brooklyn district that will have no representation until the beginning of the year unless Gov. Cuomo calls a special election.
“I think this is a personal tragedy for an individual but it becomes a community tragedy in that there is now another additional 120,000 people who will not have a voice in the state democratic process,” said Camara.