July in Review

July in Review

Our online concert series is here!

Queen Blizzy is the first performer of PFT5's online concert series featuring six amazing local artists.

Produced by Valeriana Dema; Videographer: Kasson Colon-Mangin; Audio Engineer: Kenneth Paul Graham

A women wearing all black wirh a leopard print headwrap and gold scarf singing to a girl in a pink t-shirt. PFT5's logo in partially visible in the background.
Queen Blizzy and Legacy Garner, Eric Garner's youngest daughter performing Killer Cops live for PFT5.

Watch Queen Blizzy's complete live performance followed by an intimate interview on our Youtube channel.

Head over to our Instagram page to watch Queen Blizzy's live performance of her song Killer Cops. The song was inspired by the murder of Eric Garner on Bay Steet in Staten Island on 7/17/2014. Garner was murdered by NYPD's Danny Pantaleo in one of the countless acts of police-sanctioned violence against black lives.

A black women wearing a black shirt with a leopard print headwrap and golden scarf.
Photograph of Queen Blizzy from her interview with PFT5.

Don't miss it! Be sure to FOLLOW US on Instagram. LIKE & SUBSCRIBE to our Youtube channel!

Allow us to introduce ourselves:

PFT5 is a grassroots news and media outlet based out of Staten Island, N.Y. The organization is a cooperative(co-op). At its inception, PFT5 founder Sean Ghazala envisioned it as a tool for making change possible in existing conditions – for its readers and its workers.

A man in a red t-shirt and cardigan embracing a child, his nephew on a couch. The child is wearing a black shirt and is holding a loptop.
Sean Ghazala with his Nephew.

PFT5 member Candy Mantilla further discusses the co-op with founding member Sean Ghazala.

Candy: Hi Sean, thank you for speaking with me. What is Plea for the Fifth and how was the project born?

Sean: Hey Candy,... The site went live on December 1, 2020, with the objective of building a platform for delivering different coverage of local Staten Island stories than what’s seen on mainstream media outlets.

I think it’s imperative that we educate our people in order to overcome oppression and news and media should be tools for this process. We want our readers to feel energized and ready to act. Not scared and helpless.

Candy: Can you describe one event that shaped your conviction to establish PFT5?

Sean: During Occupy Wall Street (OWS) I was working as a Park Ranger at the African Burial Ground National Monument. For me, it was difficult to separate the two. The oppressive force of a racist capitalist system made possible the largest black burial site in the world and those same forces fueled the OWS movement.

Candy: What is grassroots? What is a co-op? How do PFT5's values align with each of these concepts?

Sean: As I see it, grassroots is an attempt to become organized but tends to be very disorganized because a lot of the work happens individually. There are people who do good groundwork but if it’s not documented people can act like it didn’t happen. Our grassroots looks like creating a space where the scattered groundwork can be organized.

It was important that PFT5 be established as a co-op, its member-owned and member-controlled. Our members are people of the communities we are writing about and for. This structure allowed us to collectively form principles around what we care about as an organization and residents of Staten Island.

Candy: Discuss some of the challenges you’ve faced while building PFT5 and some of the lessons learned in the process.

Sean: It’s difficult to develop an entity that tries to oppose capitalistic values in a capitalistic state and there isn’t a blueprint we can follow. We’re doing our best but things cost money and each member has their own responsibilities outside of Plea.

...Sometimes you set expectations and it's tough to recognize when they’re not realistic. We’re adapting as we go because we have to be able to make changes and continue to forge this much-needed space under the existing conditions.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Check out Sean Ghazala's full interview here.

Consider supporting us. You can help us to continue producing content like these articles below:

Justice or Pacification: One Year After Staten Island's Largest Protests for Racial Justice

Written by Zeta

A very large crowd of people raise their fists in solidarity in front of a police station during a demonstration . Many of the demonstrators hold uo signs.
Protestors gather outside the 123rd Precinct in Tottenville, Staten Island on June 7, 2020. Photograph by Paul Moakley

A year ago, in response to George Floyd’s murder, Staten Islanders marched for Black lives in some of the largest demonstrations the Island has ever seen.

Two demonstrations – on either side of Staten Island – for Black lives featured similar remarks from those in positions of leadership: respect the police. These same leaders neglected to encourage law enforcement to reciprocate that respect.

Amazon Under Pressure: The Grassroots Movement to Unionize a Workforce

Written by Sean Ghazala

 Black and white photograph showing two men distributing union authorization cards on a road in front of large buildings.
Gerald Bryson and Christian Smalls, both former supervisors who were fired from jobs at Amazon's at JFK8, distribute information about the ALU (Amazon Labor Union) outside of Amazon sort center in Staten Island, June 1st, 2021. Photograph by Stephen Obisanya for Plea for the Fifth

Amazon fired Christian Smalls during the pandemic, and now he’s leading a nonstop protest to unionize workers in Staten Island.

Daily, from 4 AM to 9 PM, Christian Smalls and the other Amazon Labor Union organizers sit along 5th Street, between Amazon’s fulfillment and sort centers, to collect signed union authorization cards at their table. Some workers can be wary of approaching ALU’s table, fearful that Amazon officials may be observing them. To encourage fearful signees, organizers periodically hold cookouts with free food to draw workers over, and open conversation.

Free Palestine

Written by Editorial Committee

Illustration by Xio. A spray bottle labeled Ethnic Cleansing, Established 1948, Backed by the USA spraying blood on the map of the State of Palestine in the color scheme of the Palestinian flag.
Illustration by Xio

Plea for the Fifth stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine as they endure the current oppressive occupation of their land at the hands of the state of Israel. We are an organization that supports indigenous sovereignty both domestically and abroad.

Commentary: MLK Tried to Tell Us

Written by Danny O.Z.E

Black and white photograph of MLK sprawled across the police desk being restrained by two police officers as his wife and others look on.
MLK at the police station in Alabama upon being arrested for loitering, 1958.

While it is true that King championed nonviolent, direct action, and that his methods required great character, solidarity, and composure, Americans have, instead, reduced his legacy to one of compromise. King, however, was not compromising at all.

Our images are alt text enabled to better serve our visually impaired readers.