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Husband eyed in wife’s death

Eddie Coello, an ex-NYPD officer, was taken into custody Tuesday after his estranged wife’s lifeless body was found in Yorktown last week.

According to his lawyer, Coello has not been arrested and is still pledging his innocence.

Tina Adovasio, a Bronx resident, disappeared on March 11. According to police the couple had a history of domestic violence and she had wanted a separation. Officials determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. The body also showed blunt trauma to the chest and head.

Adovasio, a mother of four, was buried Tuesday in Mahopac. The Wall Street Journal

Posted in Newswire0 Comments

Immigrants hope for an even better DREAM

When Melissa Garcia Velez started attending Lehman College last fall, she knew her dream of becoming a social worker might he harder to obtain than her fellow classmates.

“I’m an undocumented student,” said Garcia Velez, 18 who lives in Richmond Hill, Queens.  Unless new federal legislation is passed, she will not be able to use her degree in the United States after graduation.

Garcia Velez’ mother immigrated to the U.S. first, looking for a better life and worked as a waitress, babysitter and house cleaner, “whatever she was able to get a hold of to help us back in Colombia,” said Garcia Velez, who immigrated in 2001 at the age of eight with a family friend.

The college student attended public school and learned English as a second language.

Garcia Velez is vice president and co-founder of the Dream Team, a student-run group at the college for students to come together and talk about the Dream Act, a currently defeated piece of legislation that could open up the gateway for undocumented students to become legal citizens.

The Dream Act was the central topic at the immigration conference this week at Lehman College at Lehman’s Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies.  The proposed legislation also known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, is a bill that would give undocumented young people who entered the United States under age 16 the opportunity to obtain legal status through two years or either military service or college.

The Dream Act did not win enough votes in 2010 to overcome a filibuster and is currently stuck in the U.S. Senate.  Still, it energized students at colleges and university campuses around the country, many of whom say they are not giving up on the legislation.

Since the fall, the Dream Team at Lehman has grown from 10 to 25 student members.  “I felt a lot of people joined because they wanted to,” said Garcia Velez.  “They are young people, they have a vision of creating change.”

New York State senator Charles Schumer is currently working on passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform that would tighten border security, mandate all undocumented immigrants to register with the government and create a biometric-based employer verification system.

“Schumer’s proposal, it gives a limited pathway to a small select group of people that are here,” said Alfonso Gonzalez, a political science professor at the college who emigrated from Mexico. “The Schumer plan will not address the causes of immigration.”

Gonzalez, says that despite the recent setbacks in implementing new immigration policy, change will come.  “Every year more and more Latino youth become eligible to vote,” he said during the conference.  “Those youth are going to become long term agents for change.”

Linda Green, director of the Center for Latin American studies at the University of Arizona and associate professor of anthropology said that despite its defeat, the Dream Act has succeeded in mobilizing young people.

But Green does have concerns about the bill in its current form.  She is worried that students who can’t afford college would choose to go into the military first to earn their college tuition.  “It sets migrants up as fodder for us,” she said.

Liliana Yanez, an immigration specialist who works with CUNY Law School students at the Immigration and Refugee Rights Clinic said that advocates of the measure should be conscious of those it might exclude.  Though Yanez supports the Dream Act, she hopes the terms will be re-negotiated. “The Dream Act to me seems like crumbs,” she said.

According to Yanez, minimal military enlistment for new recruits is eight years.  She’s concerned that the Dream Act would set up a “pipeline” for the military. “Whose going to be serving in the military?” she said, “a lot of people who don’t want to serve?”

Yanez also spoke in favor of repealing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which expanded crimes, forcing mandatory detention on immigrants caught jumping turnstiles or pretty theft.

“Human rights are not just something that happens in far away places, it starts at home,” said Victoria Sanford, chairwoman of the center.  “For our community immigration is a human rights issue.”  The center bridges the school with its past – 65 years ago, the United Nations Security Council met in the U.S. for the first time inside the college’s gymnasium.  During the meeting, the council started to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For Lehman College’s Dream Team formal legislation can’t come soon enough.  “We want to be considered human in the legal sense,” said Garcia Velez.  “We don’t want to be in the shadows anymore.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Education, Former Featured, Front Page, Politics0 Comments

Local artist captures borough’s “hidden stories”

Artist Carol Sun explains the meaning behind her work. Photo by: April Warren

By April Warren

Growing up in the Kingsbridge and Fordham sections of the Bronx during the late 1960s wasn’t always easy for Carol Sun, the daughter of immigrants from Shanghai.  Street fighting and name calling often reminded her that not too many of her neighbors shared her Asian-American ancestry.

“There was a lot of racism, a lot of people had a lot of hostility because of the Vietnam War,” said Sun, 52, an art teacher at the Bronx High School for the Visual Arts, explaining her Chinese background was sometimes mistaken for Vietnamese.  “It was kind of intense, but I survived my childhood.”

Sun, an artist in her own right, uses images from her childhood in her art.  Samples of her work can be found in the stained glass artwork at the 167th Street subway station where scenes from the New York Botanical Garden, Orchard Beach and Van Cortlandt Park are pieced together from memory.

Sun’s latest work inspired by the borough can be found at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in the exhibition “Urban Archives: Happy Together,” which opened last year and has now been extended to June 6.  The space is the only contemporary fine art museum in the Bronx and will celebrate its 40th anniversary later this year.

The museum’s charter indicates the organization’s commitment to displaying artwork by artists with Asian, Latin American and African ancestry, a reflection of the borough’s immigrant roots, according to the museum’s program director Sergio Bessa.

First conceptualized in 1971 in a nearby courthouse rotunda, the museum later moved into a neighborhood synagogue.  The current 16,000 sq ft. museum space opened in October of 2006 on Grand Concourse.

For decades, the museum has reached out to local artists and the community through various programs ranging from curatorial practices to public art opportunities and legal issues associated with the profession.  One program, which launches this year, will send 15 artists abroad to set up community-based art projects in countries such as China, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Kenya, Turkey and the Philippines.

“We are not a community center but I think the Bronx is very proud of its network of grassroots organizations,” Bessa said.

The museum also focuses on bringing the appreciation of art to the borough’s youth.  Specifically, a Teen Council program allows students to make art through videos and participate in other events.  In addition, the museum partnered with P.S. 73 to form a curriculum where third and fourth graders visit the space eight times per year to learn about art and what archiving entails – a process the museum staff likens to archiving baseball cards.

“We are interested in offering an alternative model for kids to engage in culture,” Bessa said.  “A lot of kids in the Bronx come from families who aren’t aware of what museums are.”

To attract youth, the museum has held exhibitions on hip-hop and other cultural related topics such as film and theater over the years.  It has also worked with artist Sun’s academic home, the Bronx High School for the Visual Arts in order to show students what career opportunities are available for artists after graduation.

Sun’s career has no doubt been influence by the borough she grew up in – and it’s helped her artistic vision in the classroom and at the easel.

“I like lost or hidden stories,” said Sun of her artwork.  “Things that are overlooked in the mainstream.”

Sun, who now lives in Brooklyn, received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Cooper Union and a Masters of Fine Art from Vermont College.

The background of her new artwork hanging in the museum is a large strip of wallpaper displaying various scenes, often referred to as a “toile” that is common in French wallpaper. Instead, Sun’s is a “Bronx toile” depicting indigenous birds taking flight, weeds growing up through fence links and a scene from the Grand Concourse.

The second layer of the piece is a series of plates, which Sun has collected for years.  Each plate has been customized with something from her world, including a cartoon painting of Felix the Cat, a plush toy she once collected from a fast food restaurant and fence links on another.  A pair of plates next to each other, show the components of a chain lock for the inside of an apartment door.  She titled this piece of the artwork, “Marriage.”  “If you have one side without the other side its kind of useless,” Sun explained.

For Sun, the museum serves more than one purpose.

“I love the museum, said Sun.  “It serves a very important role in the Bronx community and certainly in the art community, showcasing artists that are not part of the mainstream.”

“Urban Archives: Happy Together” is on display through June 6.  The museum is open Thursday through Sunday and admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for children up to age 6.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, The Bronx Beat1 Comment

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