A rally in support for Mayor Mike Spano was interrupted when a group of protestors gathered to condemn racist remarks made by an event attendee the day before.
Jessica Guisto Gordon is the Executive Director of the South Broadway Business Improvement District. This not-for-profit organization promotes local businesses in a small section of Southwest Yonkers by providing supplemental services like marketing and curb cleanup.
On Friday, April 21, Gordon was caught on camera accosting a long-time street vendor. As Gordon was challenging the vendor’s credentials, another Yonkersite began filming and chastising Gordon in return. At points in the contentious exchange, Gordon utters a few remarks that have been deemed racist by some. Trying to shoo the person away, Gordon tells him that “people are going to get hurt because of some tacos.” She then tells him to “go back to where you were before.” The tense exchange only grew in animosity as Gordon then challenges this person’s voting history. Ultimately, it appears that the street vendor’s documents were in order. And thus, Gordon left the scene with some berating her on her way out.
You can watch the video of this incident here.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
HispaNOs for Spano
This viral video of what some have called, “Yonkers’ own Karen” spurred a hastily assembled protest the next day at a rally in support of Mayor Spano where Gordon was in attendance. The event dubbed, “Hispanos for Spano” was held at Punta Agave on 405 S Broadway. The Spano supporters in attendance were greeted by a handful of protestors outside of the event holding makeshift signs reading phrases like, “We Love Street Vendors” and calling out Gordon by name.
While the event was to support Spano, he was not the only politician in attendance. On dueling sides of this event were Majority Leader of the City Council, Tasha Diaz supporting Spano, and her challenger, Hector Santiago, supporting the street vendors. They clearly represented the dichotomy that existed that day of those in power and those being punished under it.
With about 40% of Yonkers being of Hispanic ethnicity, they are a powerful voting bloc. Saturday’s event clearly had the intent to show that Spano garners support from this community, despite being challenged by afro-latina council member Corazon Pineda-Isaac. But, the actions of Spano’s ally, Jessica Gordon, and the protest that followed, may have spoiled that message.
UPDATE: There is now a Change.org petition demanding the removal of Gordon from her current positions.