Gen-Z Councilmember Chi Ossé gave his first official State of the District address to constituents of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights yesterday afternoon on the rooftop pavilion of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum .

The sounds of young children playing in the background throughout the event served as an audible reminder of why District 36 had gathered that day—to chart its progress in creating and safeguarding a bright future for the district’s youngest constituents.

The event also featured his swearing-in ceremony, officiated by Judge Robin Shears, after postponing the in-person event in January due to the Omicron virus surge in the area.

Despite the sizzling weather, the event was attended by more than 250 guests, including Ossé’s family, district 36 constituents and notable electeds like Councilmember Crystal Hudson and Assemblymember Brian Cunningham.

Senator Jabari Brisport, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Comptroller Brad Lander and Ossé’s aunt Chinyere Vann gave speeches on his leadership successes, first as an activist with Warriors in the Garden and now as a politician.

More personally, many mentioned his father, Hip-Hop music attorney, producer, podcaster and archivist, Reggie Ossé, who passed away at the end of 2017.

“[Chi Ossé] is a leader who inspires young people, who is built from tradition, who knows where he comes from and where he’s going,” Lander said. “Your dad is really proud of you today.”

Drum group Asase Yaa had the audience clap along. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

As part of the event, Ossé invited Brooklyn performers to showcase their work in creating music and performance that honors the Black heritage of the district.

“District 36 is a bastion of Black culture and creativity, Black power and promise,” Ossé said.

As guests filed in, jazz group Kazemde George performed. Abby Dobson sang the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, and local African drum group Asase Yaa got the whole audience clapping along. Siren: Protectors of the RainForest, a Brooklyn group that honors African heritage and history through arts and education, performed a moving, masked dance.

Ossé used his state of the district speech to emphasize the efficacy of local government and account for the local material gains and advancements he has made for his constituents, particularly when it comes to housing, public health and sanitation concerns. He also announced some of the bills that he introduced over the past 6 months since he’s been in office.

Chi Ossé giving his first State of the District speech. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

Amongst his wins so far: He has begun offering free legal clinics for those unable to afford a lawyer; has closed nearly 2,000 constituent service cases; and has distributed tens of thousands of at-home COVID tests, PPE items and pounds of free food at his Wellness Wednesdays.

He said City Council has allocated millions of dollars toward small businesses which will directly fund businesses his neighborhoods and has worked to expand COVID testing sites in the district.

“Elected by you, I am committed to walking among you as we fulfill that role of national leadership, setting the bar for local democracy,” Ossé said.

He’s also distributed rat-proof trashcans and picked up over 30,000 pounds of litter in the district as part of his new See Something, Say Something program for sanitation reporting, emphasizing that his constituents deserve the same clean, sanitary conditions afforded to those in wealthier neighborhoods.

In the past 6 months, he has also sponsored a bill to create a separate office at the Department of Housing to assist homeowners directly and has introduced a bill to provide anti-overdose medication to bars and nightclubs.

Over 250 friends, politicians, constituents and family members attended the swearing-in and State of the District. Photo: Miranda Levingston for the BK Reader.

He also introduced a bill to track the Sanitation Department’s rat mitigation efforts and co-primed a bill obligating construction sites to hire a licensed pest management professional.

“In our noble war against the rats of Brooklyn, my office has provided the tools, training, and intel to decisively win,” Ossé said.

Ossé mentioned some of his advocacy triumphs as well—most notably, he spoke about his partnership with tenants associations and unions across the district to stand in solidarity for housing affordability and against landlord abuses.

Right now, he said his office is also pushing to legally prevent predatory developers from pressuring deed holders into selling their properties, so that the community can stay anchored against the strong winds of gentrification.

“Our brightest days are ahead, but the days of communal work with electric vigor are right now,” Ossé said.

“In my eyes – and the eyes of a nervously watching nation, know this: The state of the district is inspirational.” 

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Miranda Levingston

Covering everything Brooklyn. Twitter: @MLevNews

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