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Al Sharpton's National Action Network Expands to Three Chapters in Brooklyn

 Al Sharpton swears in (from L to R) James McDougal, Queenie Huling and Tony Herbert as National Action Network chapter leaders.
Al Sharpton swears in (from L to R) James McDougal, Queenie Huling and Tony Herbert as National Action Network chapter leaders.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The National Action Network, the influential civil rights group started by Al Sharpton, has expanded its operation in Brooklyn, group officials announced on Tuesday.

At the second weekly rally in support of beleaguered Interfaith Hospital, Sharpton introduced the chapter leaders for three new Brooklyn chapters: East, South and Central Brooklyn.

The new National Action Network would help better tackle issues affecting Brooklynites, like the closing of Interfaith, leaders said.

"Our first project in Brooklyn is Interfaith Hospital," Sharpton said to applause. "We can not sit by and let this happen."

The tone of Tuesday's rally, held at King Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church at 342 Malcolm X Blvd., was decidedly different from the first meeting last week, when a standing-room-only crowd squeezed into the sweltering church, with dozens more standing outside, as speaker after speaker denounced Albany for budget cuts leading to a spate of hospital closings in the borough.

On Tuesday, there were seats for everyone, and fewer speakers. In addition to continuing the themes expressed last week, there was another major theme: join the National Action Network.

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Letitia James, who is running to replace de Blasio as public advocate, praised the civil rights group, and on each seat in the church was a membership form asking those in attendance to join, with a $25 annual membership fee.

"We found that one chapter in the middle of Brooklyn was not sufficient," said Kirsten John Foy, the former NAN Brooklyn chapter president who is also running for city council in central Brooklyn. "The need has grown, so we've got to grow to meet the need."

Under the new model, each chapter in Brooklyn will have its own chapter leader. James McDougal, former Brooklyn chapter vice president, will now head up the central Brooklyn chapter. Queenie Huling, who formerly headed up the group's health and wellness committee, is now the head of the south Brooklyn chapter in Coney Island. And east Brooklyn, which encompasses East New York, Brownsville and Canarsie, is now headed up by community advocate Tony Herbert.

Each of the new chapter leaders will coordinate through Foy, who is now a "conference chair" in Brooklyn tasked with finding new areas to expand the group and new people to lead those chapters, Foy said.

One of the groups' first missions will be a march on Governor Andrew Cuomo's office on Monday at 2:30 p.m., in protest of closing hospitals in Brooklyn.

"When they can tell you in 2013 that they will close the hospital in your community, and there'll be nowhere to cover your immediate medical needs, trauma, all of that," Sharpton said, "then that's the time we have to stop, put our differences aside and say, 'you're not going to get away with that.'"