Latino organization calls out New York Democrats’ relative silence on imprisoned bodega worker

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The chairman of one of the largest Latino advocacy organizations in the U.S. called out New York State Democrats for what he said has been silence in the face of an unjust prosecution of a New York City bodega worker who killed an assailant in self-defense.

National Association of Latino State Chambers of Commerce Chairman Frank Garcia spoke out to Fox News about the plight of Jose Alba, a sextugenarian employee of a Hamilton Heights bodega who fought back against assailant Austin Simon, killing him.

Garcia joined the chorus of critics of New York County Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is currently prosecuting Alba for murder while being accused of being soft on career criminals amid Manhattan’s crime wave.

Garcia said he appreciated Mayor Eric Adams allowing him to meet with Bragg, but suggested that’s where the assistance of Democratic lawmakers stopped. He underlined he does not want to make the situation a political issue, but added Republicans are generally the ones supporting him and the Latino community at this time.

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Photo illustration of Hochul and Bragg.
(Reuters and Associated Press)

He accused New York Gov. Kathleen Hochul of remaining silent on the issue, adding he has tried to text newly-minted Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado – formerly an upstate U.S. congressman – but has not received any response. 

We feel that the politicians are not listening. And I’m very grateful to the city council; the Republican City councilmembers were the ones that supported us, that not even a Hispanic,” he said, adding former City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., D-Bronx, has been one of the few from that party to offer assistance. Diaz is a longtime fixture in city civics.

Another lawmaker, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, R-Queens, spoke out publicly and called for Bragg to “drop the damn charges” while demanding Hochul use her gubernatorial power to remove him from his post.

“This man is being hung out to dry,” Paladino, one of only 5 Republicans in the 51-member body, said in remarks captured by Fox News.

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A photo of Alvine Bragg embedded in a screenshot of surveillance video obtained by the New York Post showing Jose Alba's deadly confrontation with ex-convict Austin Simon.

A photo of Alvine Bragg embedded in a screenshot of surveillance video obtained by the New York Post showing Jose Alba’s deadly confrontation with ex-convict Austin Simon.
(Barry Williams via Getty/NYPost video)

Garcia later pointed to reporting about Simon’s unnamed girlfriend, who reportedly stabbed Alba during the melee near W. 140 Street.

The girlfriend attempted to purchase a bag of potato chips, but her food-stamp card was declined, leading Alba to rescind the purchase, according to the UK Daily Mail. The enraged woman reportedly ran out of the store, soon after which Simon appeared and the incident occurred.

“The woman that stabbed Jose Alba is still free and it’s not fair that Jose’s in house-arrest. He had a wound, they did not take him to the hospital. It’s just human decency. The criminal’s able to get medical help and our members that pay taxes cannot do that? It’s unacceptable,” Garcia said.

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He went on to comment about accusations Bragg is lax on career criminals while throwing the book at Alba:

“On the flip side of it, you see people stabbing people in the subways, running free after they were taken into custody for 24 hours and then set loose on the streets of New York as part of some criminal justice reform,” he said.

“[This] has people saying, ‘you know what – what is going on?’.”

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