May 17, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A prominent Long Island City restaurant owner has come under fire for tearing up a city council candidate’s campaign poster and uploading a picture of its remnants to social media — accompanied by a strong anti-socialist message.
Josh Bowen, the owner of Mothership Meat Company who was an outspoken advocate for Amazon HQ2 coming to Long Island City, tore up a campaign poster of progressive candidate Jonathan Bailey and posted a photo of the pieces on his personal Facebook page Sunday.
Bailey, who is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is running to represent the 26th Council District, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Dutch Kills and parts of Astoria.
The Facebook post included a few choice words from Bowen:
“It’s hilarious when a bonafide Marxist thinks that businesses are going to hang your campaign sign,” Bowen wrote in the post. “Save your rubles comrade, no business owner is going to proclaim, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a Kulak. Sign me up.’”
Bowen, who said the poster had been dropped off at his 27-20 40th Ave. restaurant, ripped up Bailey’s image — tearing his head off his body. The restaurateur, however, said the way it was torn was coincidental.
Bowen’s harsh message also made reference to a protest Bailey had participated in outside Council Member Daniel Dromm’s apartment building last year prior to the passing of the city budget. The protesters called for the NYPD budget to be slashed in the wake of the George Floyd murder.
“And just adding that this is the asshole who was menacing Daniel Dromm, who is an actual hero, at his house and banging on his door like he’s some bad ass with a mob behind him,” Bowen wrote.
Bailey, who disputes the allegations concerning Dromm, said he was alerted to Bowen’s Facebook post by a number of concerned residents. He also believes that Bowen deliberately tore the image of his head off.
“It’s very clearly intentionally torn,” he told the Queens Post. “It’s very purposefully torn at my head.”
However, Bowen claims that Bailey’s response to his Facebook post is all “crocodile tears.”
“He tries to portray innocence but he threatened a man at his home and wants to shed crocodile tears over a picture that with 8-1 matching funds, I paid for,” Bowen said, referring to the city’s public matching funds program for candidates running for public office.
Bailey’s campaign put out a statement condemning Bowen’s post.
“Bowen not only mischaracterized Jonathan Bailey’s commitment to small businesses, he also mischaracterized Bailey’s interaction with Daniel Dromm,” his campaign stated.
The campaign said that Bailey is an ardent supporter of small businesses and his platform includes a commercial rent stabilization plan to help them. He would also aim to stop commercial landlords from warehousing space.
Bailey said his interaction with Dromm, who chairs the city council’s finance committee that oversees the city budget, has been mischaracterized.
He said that he was one of about a hundred protesters outside Dromm’s apartment building (Dromm’s office was essentially closed due to COVID-19) demanding that the NYPD budget be cut. Bailey said that he entered the building with one other protester and knocked on Dromm’s apartment door twice after he didn’t hear an answer the first time.
Dromm, however, characterized the knocks as “banging” on his apartment door, though the council member told the Queens Post at the time that he didn’t feel threatened.
In response to Bowen’s Facebook post, Bailey — who fought against Amazon coming to Long Island City — criticized Bowen for being a supporter of the Amazon HQ2 deal in the neighborhood. Bailey was critical of Amazon’s plan, saying that it would have led to rent hikes and gentrification in Long Island City.
Bailey is well versed in all issues pertaining to Amazon. He works in logistics for the company and co-founded Amazonians United NYC — a collective of Amazon workers fighting for worker rights and better pay. He also was instrumental in organizing the protests against the e-commerce giant opening HQ2 in Long Island City.
However, Bowen maintains that his Facebook post regarding Bailey was only a statement about his political beliefs as someone who lives in the district, which Bailey hopes to represent. He said his post had nothing to do with the Amazon debate.
Bowen said he doesn’t regret making his post.
“Since I’m required to respond, I have no regrets on the post on my PERSONAL Facebook page,” he said in a statement to the Queens Post. “What I said was factual and nothing on it alluded to anything other than politics. Jonathan Bailey is a Marxist. If he is not, he can publicly state that and I will apologize.”
Bailey, however, characterizes himself as a socialist.
He said many people just regurgitate the popular misconceptions about socialism without fully understanding it.
“The Fox News attitude that socialism is the root of everyone’s problems is a myth that has been perpetuated for so long that a lot of folks will hate folks fighting for working class interests regardless of their understanding of any of the things that people are fighting for,” he said.
Bowen also said that he had stopped publicly speaking about Amazon and attending meetings at least two years ago and that Bailey was looking to “renew a fight” on the issue.
He claims that he only learned Bailey had been instrumental in the fight against Amazon HQ2 three days ago.
“This guy has no resume but whining about Amazon so it was a natural fit when he stalked my personal Facebook page and found something he thought would renew a fight no one cares about any more,” Bowen said.
Bailey, however, said that Bowen elected himself to be a “mascot” for the e-commerce company and its desires for a LIC headquarters.
Bowen was a staunch supporter of Amazon coming to Long Island City and even flew out to Seattle to urge Amazon executives to rethink their views once they shelved the idea of coming to the area. He also got into a heated text exchange with Matt Wallace, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s chief of staff, over the Amazon deal.
Van Bramer, who opposed Amazon, posted a screenshot of the exchange on Twitter. Bowen viewed the council member’s decision to post the texts for the world to see as a low blow — and filed a lawsuit against him.
Bailey’s campaign also said that the way in which Bowen tore the image of the candidate implied violence at a time when Black activists are under threat.
“Bowen’s framing, along with the implied violence of ripping Bailey’s head off his poster, is particularly jarring as we witness increasingly violent rhetoric and actions against Black liberation activists,” the campaign stated.
Bowen, however, said that there was zero racial overtones in his Facebook post.
“The race stuff is total garbage and anyone who knows my life, my family or my business knows that,” he said. “In the meantime, NYC is spinning out of control with homelessness, crime and hunger and trying to go after a business owner, expressing his first amendment rights, on his personal FB page, is at the top of this guy’s list.”
“Guys like this are going to get Curtis Sliwa elected,” Bowen added, mentioning the Republican mayoral candidate.
However, Bailey said Bowen’s fear is irrational.
“We’re just trying to fight for working people — that’s all,” he added. “We’re not out here trying to hurt anybody.”