New York opens amid fears and mass protests

Fifth Avenue, with bricked up stores after nights of riots in the Big Apple Credit: Domitila Dellacha

NEW YORK – After twelve weeks that might have come out of a post-apocalyptic movie, New York begins its reopening. Some 400,000 people return to work in the Big Apple after almost 90 days only restricted to essential activities. Construction, manufacturing and commerce (with sale only to take away) are the industries that participate in the long-awaited phase 1. A reopening that began with popular protests for racial justice and that have forced to adjust plans.

This Monday, New York woke up in a dichotomy: the excitement of finally seeing the first steps towards the exit from a nightmare, and the desire of the protesters, who seek that their popular struggle does not give up. Young people don’t want a return to business as usual without first obtaining clear answers to your claims.

The postcard of the reopening is far from what was expected. In southern Manhattan, the neuralgic focus of pre-pandemic times, many of the stores that today should open at least to take out, continue to be boarded up. The last days were vandalized by small groups of people who looted premises of all kinds while peaceful protests took place in different sectors of the Big Apple.

The legendary Saks Fifth Avenue store, walled up with barbed wire, protected by private security Credit: Domitila Dellacha

Construction work in the Big Apple, however, did begin in full swing. After almost 90 days of inactivity, workers returned to their jobs with the illusion of never stopping again. Wearing chinstraps and an effort to maintain social distancing, the huge machines once again rang out being operated by workers who pray not to see their jobs held back again.

The metro network, which saw more than 5 million commuters daily and was reduced to a handful of essential workers, woke up today with greater activity. LThe New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced that a 20 percent increase in public transportation use is expected, who had been so relegated for fear of an eventual contagion of the respiratory virus.

To reach its phase 1 reopening, New York City, like nine other regions of the state, had to comply with a system of seven metrics linked to health objectives set by the government of Andrew Cuomo. This stage includes the reactivation of the construction and manufacturing industries and the opening of stores with take-out sales only.

In a city where silence has become the most deafening noise due to the advance of the coronavirus, no one imagined that massive protests would be part of the equation in the design of a reopening. George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, Minnesota changed all odds. The control of the deserted streets came to be in the hands of a revolution led by young people who aspire to a social change that breaks schemes of systematic damage in the country.

Young people anticipate they will march in massive protests until changes are seen

Young people anticipate they will march in massive protests until changes are seen Credit: Domitila Dellacha

Since two weeks, Protesters have challenged not only the country’s authorities, but the unforgiving virus. “The problem is bigger,” Victoria told THE NATION, a young woman at a massive protest on Columbus Circle, in front of one of the towers named Trump, in New York. “We try to take all precautions to take care of ourselves, but today we have to be here,” he stressed. Floyd’s death once again shed light on a problem that has plagued the United States for hundreds of years: racism. Today, social movements aspire to see a transformation in the police, responsible for the death of an African American every 34 hours in the North American country.

Kneeling on the hot asphalt, hundreds of thousands chanted: “Without justice, there is no peace.” While authorities wonder how long this postcard of sweaty protesters in popular marches will be seen, young people limit themselves to affirming that until they see changes.

In an effort to defuse popular tensions, The mayor of the city Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that he will take part of the funding from the New York Police Department (NYPD, for its acronym in English) to allocate it to social initiatives. Until now, the NYPD received 6 percent of the annual budget, which is about $ 6 billion. It still did not specify how much of that would be cut by administrative decision.

Thousands of young people have taken to the streets of New York for two weeks in protests for racial justice

Thousands of young people have taken to the streets of New York for two weeks in protests for racial justice Credit: Domitila Dellacha

Six months ago, the notion of Covid-19 did not exist. It is difficult to assimilate how little is still known about him. The new virus disrupted the scenarios of daily life in the world, injured in its wake, broke families and transformed cities that, little by little, are adapting to the so repeated new normality.

Now, with so many people crammed into the arteries of New York, Authorities plead with protesters to take precautions and test for coronavirus. A wave of symptoms that could return to the city that had peaks of up to 800 deaths per day raises alarms in health experts.

With 378,000 cases and 25,000 deaths, New York was the epicenter of the health crisis that hit the United States the hardest. The refrigerated trucks that store bodies are still the protagonists of a devastating scene that dreams of leaving terror behind. In the streets, in the same way, protesters hope that what is left behind are unequivocal social differences and racial justice prevail.

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