Activists and voters in Jackson Heights slammed State Senator Jose Peralta for declining to show up at a town hall meeting they held last night at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, and in his absence, turned the event into a briefing on what they said were Peralta and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference's failures in Albany.

Citizens for District 13, which organized the town hall along with a coalition of Queens and city-wide civic groups, left a name card out for Peralta that sat unused, not unlike Elijah's Cup at a seder. Instead of getting another opportunity to grill Peralta about his decision to defect from the mainline Democratic conference to the IDC like they did in February, attendees instead shared their disappointment and anger with Peralta's defection, pointing to a number of progressive bills the IDC has derailed in the state Senate.

Peralta's decision to join the IDC was "deeply disappointing to me," immigration advocate and founder of the South Asian Fund for Education Scholarship Training Mazeda Uddin told the crowd of over 100 people in the room. "How can you say, when a Democratic member joins the Republicans, how does that protect immigrants?" she asked the audience.

Other members of the panel, sitting on either side of the name plate in front of Peralta's empty seat, blasted the IDC and said the conference stood in the way of bills like the New York Health Act, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, the Reproductive Health Act, and Peralta's pet project, the DREAM Act in the state Senate.

Speakers even saw failures in the case of legislation that the IDC helped pass, like the raise the age provision in this year's budget. Kenneth Shelton of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York called it "a half-assed measure" because it doesn't seal juvenile criminal records and still allows felony cases for 16 and 17-year-olds to be heard in criminal court.

Shelton also argued that Democratic politicians must not be given a free pass because they had a "D" next to their names. "Just as we hold Republicans and IDC members accountable, we also have to recognize that some Democrats in our midst aren't in our favor," he told the crowd.

Peralta's office tweeted photos of the state Senator at a meeting of the Ericsson Street Block Association. One town hall attendee said Peralta's office told her the meeting had been on his calendar since May:

However, Kim Kristyna, a Jackson Heights resident who works with Black Lives Matter, told Gothamist that Peralta told her he was going to show up. "I expected him to be here. I saw Peralta at Jackson Heights Pride, he told me he was going to show up and be here. He'd show up if he cared about his community, if he cared about people here. Even if he got booed out, he should have showed up, because that's what a man does."

In a statement given to Gothamist, Senator Peralta wrote that "Citizens for District 13— a group that my office has never heard of in the many years of dealing with community organizations—appears more focused on furthering a counterproductive anti-Independent Democratic Conference agenda than taking any action that has to do with a healthy and constructive debate about the future of this district."

In addition, a source told Gothamist that the only person Peralta says he spoke with at Jackson Heights Pride was a man, and that the two discussed possibly meeting one-on-one in his office to talk about issues pertaining to Jackson Heights.

With Peralta not in attendance, his teenage challenger Tahseen Chowdhury took the chance to address the room, telling the crowd his progressive ideals were better suited to represent the 13th District in Albany.

In addition to Chowdhury, Episcopal minister Louis Braxton told the crowd that he was considering running against Peralta in 2018. "This is a time of sadness," he told the crowd. "Mr. Peralta has disappointed us all, we had such high hopes for him."

"It may not be illegal or immoral, but it's disappointing," Braxton told Gothamist after the meeting when asked about Peralta's switch to the IDC. "For a small amount of money, I don't get it, I just don't get it."