A crowd gathers for the “Rally Against Hate” at Tompkins Square Park yesterday. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
On the 10th day of President Donald Trump’s administration, a protest in New York City was nothing new. But in light of several executive orders signed by the president in under two weeks, a renewed sense of urgency ignited the protest at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village yesterday.
The scene was covered with homemade signs supporting immigrants, refugees, women, and equality.
“No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here,” chanted the crowd.
President Trump’s opposition has a lot to protest about. No less than 15 executive orders have been signed so far. Cristina Montanez of the Lower East Side, couldn’t decide which was the most upsetting to her.
“It’s really hard to single one out,” said Montanez. “It’s just all so disappointing, what’s happening right now. Everything is just terrible. The immigration ban, abortion, the wall.”
Montanez came to the rally with her husband and two young children. The family is originally from Queens and now lives on the Lower East Side. After hearing about the “Rally Against Hate” from her daughter’s school, the family decided to show support.
“We are going to support full throttle and we are going to stand behind the organizers because we have no other choice right now,” she said.
Like millions of Americans, Montanez is the daughter of immigrants. Her parents came to the U.S. from Colombia in the 1960s. When President Kennedy was assassinated, her mother cried. On the night of the election, Montanez herself cried.
“It touches home,” she said. “My parents are immigrants. And I’m a woman. I can’t believe that this is happening. I’m feeling confused, anger, shock. I’m scared for my kids. There’s going to be a revolution or something. This is the land of immigrants.”
Seth Tobocman took his personal protest a step further. Tobocman is a New Yorker since 1976, and a resident of the Lower East Side. Find a protest in NYC in the past two weeks and you’d likely see Tobocman there—handing out his paper, “How Do We Fight Back? “The paper features contact information of many organizations leading the Trump resistance movement, illustrated with political cartoons. The paper answered the question asked by many protestors: What can I do next?
“We got together a list of organizations—people want to figure out how to get involved,” said Tobocman. “Beyond going out to something once. People look into things long-term and they get involved in organizations. This paper is just one to help people organize.”
Melody Estevez, 22, joined her fellow members of the Lower East Side Girls Club at the rally. The group also attended the Women’s March on NYC on January 21st.
“The ban is the most concerning issue to me,” said Estevez. “He’s marginalizing the wrong people, and not really getting to the root of the issue. And he’s avoiding the real issues here—like gun rights.”
As immigrants or children of immigrants, many of the girls that Estevez works with at the Lower East Side Girls Club were worried about their futures after hearing the recent executive orders.
“[The girls] are freaking out and they come to the club and we just tell them that we are fighting for you,” she said. “We are trying to spread the word about knowing your rights. Know what you can do if someone comes to your door.”
Estevez hoped that with enough physical support at rallies like this one, the message would reach the administration.
“We’re coming out in great numbers, and it’s not violent. We are peaceful. We are pro-people. And we are here to show him [Trump] that if he keeps doing these types of things, we’re just going to keep coming out. That’s the fight ahead.”
Don Krogman came from West Babylon, New York to see the inauguration. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
The overflow areas went unused. White plastic temporary flooring intended to be filled with supporters extended well past the last person in attendance. The inauguration of President Donald Trump yesterday did not live up to the hype.
“I was shocked at how empty it is here,” said Sami Mehta, 18, a Dartmouth student who stopped by to see the inauguration in person.
Though the crowd was unimpressive in number, that didn’t detract from the excitement his supporters felt on the first day of his presidency.
Don Krogman, 55, from West Babylon, New York lost his job at Victoria’s Secret, and has been out of work for a year and a half. He calls himself a “forgotten 55-year-old”, left behind by a changing society.
“When you hear, ‘you’re bigoted, you’re a racist, you’re an idiot for voting—.’ How does that make you feel? I turn around and say, ‘I’m gonna do it again next year,’” he said.
A lifelong Democrat, Krogman became an Independent after 9/11. His distrust of government and need for change, drove him to Trump.
“I would’ve voted for [Bernie] Sanders until we found out that the Democrats don’t believe in democracy and selected Hillary [Clinton] to be their champion,” he said.
Halfway between the Capitol and the Washington Monument the crowd thinned out. It was a vastly different scene than 2009, when the crowd spilled into the overflow areas, filling the National Mall for Obama’s first inauguration. Early estimates judge the Trump inauguration to have attracted one-third of the crowd of Obama’s. Many of the best seats at the inaugural parade were empty.
Bridget Begdin of just outside Denver, Colorado, said Trump was her ideal candidate.
“I think everybody’s energized and excited about the new direction of our country,” she said. “Everyone is hopeful, there’s excitement.”
But his message of hope doesn’t translate outside of his overwhelmingly white supporters. And the aggressive, dark tone of his inauguration speech, left non-Trump supporters with a different vibe.
“I definitely feel a lot of anger here,” said Rahul Califya, 19, of the Bay Area in California. “It’s less hopeful and more of a [feeling of] reclaiming something that was taken away from us, a sort of revenge.”
Many of Trump supporters drove hundreds of miles to witness his inauguration.
David Wallace, 63, of Boaz, Alabama wore the red “Make America Great Again” hat, the ubiquitous accessory of Trump’s supporters. His Auburn University poncho kept him dry when the rain fell on cue with Trump’s inaugural address.
“I drove in a pick up truck, takes about 11 hours,” he said. “He’s great, worth all the trouble. He made a great speech. There were so many protestors, we had a hard time getting in, running the gaunlet to get in here. The turnout was really good.”
Though Wallace is rooting for Trump, he is not blindly optimistic about the new presidency. The message was clear: Trump is on thin ice and expected to perform. Wallace’s main concerns were “getting people working again” and strengthening the military and borders.
“He’s gonna pull the country together and if he doesn’t, in four years we’ll put him out of office,” he said.
NYC marathon runner Yolanda Roman stands near the finish line with her family including brother Juan, mother Viviana, boyfriend Charlie Santos, cousin Sonia Ariza and her husband Eli Modesto, and nieces Madelyn and Melanie. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
Yolanda Roman ran her first marathon today. She finished the New York City Marathon in about five and a half hours, but her time was not the first thing on her mind.
“I’m running for my daughter and now my grandfather.”
Roman’s baby daughter, Chloe, passed away from a brain disorder. It was shortly after her daughter’s death that she took up running, as something to hold onto and get through her grief. Her grandfather also passed away this year.
“It means everything to be able to run for her,” she said. “Everything. It was hard but I’m doing it for her.”
Roman’s brother, Juan Roman, came to cheer her on. The Roman family are lifelong New Yorkers. They live on 62nd Street, just a few blocks from where they waited to meet Yolanda after the race. He waited with their mother Viviana and Yolanda’s boyfriend, Charlie Santos, at the family reception area after the finish line.
“I’m used to this,” said Juan Roman. “I was born in New York City, so I know the marathon, but this is the first year we’ve been involved. After my sister’s daughter passed away, we have a reason to be here. And she has a purpose to be here—her daughter and our grandpa.”
Juan Roman proudly explained that to get here today, his sister had to complete trial runs with qualifying times. She began her training schedule a year ago.
Their cousin, Sonia Ariza, and her husband, Eli Modesto, along with their daughters Madelyn,7, and Melanie, 4,, came from Brooklyn to support Roman. Madelyn and Melanie played and ran around while they waited to greet their aunt. Ariza and Modesto took turn holding high a pink sign with glittering letters spelling out, “RUN FOR CHLOE.” When Roman finally reached her family, she was greeted with hugs, tears, and congratulations.
“We saw her running when she ran through Brooklyn,” said Ariza. “We live in Brooklyn, so we wanted to watch her there, and then we came here to see her at the finish line.”
There were two moments along the 26.2-mile run that stood out to Roman. The first occurred during a difficult section of the race.
“In the Bronx, my leg started cramping,” she said. “It was cramping so bad and then I saw on the side of the path, there were Mexican people rubbing people’s legs. That helped me get through. And then, crossing that finish line,I didn’t believe it when I crossed the line. It was a good day. A good run. I’m so happy I finished and saw my family here.”
Roman’s spirit is strong. Even after completing the longest run of her life, she had no intention of resting tonight.
“We’re going to celebrate,” she said.
Irene Bonilla, a resident of The Sarah Powell Huntington House poses with her son CJ at the Women’s Prison Association event “Rebuilding Together” yesterday. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
There are 46 people living at The Sarah Powell Huntington House, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a residence for formerly incarcerated women and their children. Some are lifelong drug addicts, some were imprisoned for other crimes. Many have been separated from their children.
The House is owned by the Women’s Prison Association who opened its doors yesterday to over 100 volunteers for “Rebuilding Together” an event held to improve the facility. Volunteers spent the day repainting walls, windows, and staircases and doing repairs in the units.
Irene Bonilla resides in apartment 5D. She moved in after leaving prison and a period of homelessness.
“By 17 [years old] I was addicted to crack,” she said. “By 24 I had four children. Incarcerated in 1996, incarcerated in 2005. I’ve got 10 children including this one,” said Bonilla, gesturing to her young son.
Bonilla’s had a hard week, her sister died two days prior. Despite the grief, Bonilla insisted that she’s going to be okay. She’s worked hard to be sober for 24 months.
“I didn’t go nowhere yesterday,” said Bonilla. “Even though I felt the urge, I stayed home, here.”
Diana McHugh, the director of communications of the WPA said she’s been with the group for over five years, and was one of the organizers of “Rebuilding Together.”
Prior to working for the WPA, McHugh taught a class for women at a correctional facility. In preparing for class one day, she opened the window blinds in the room to let some light in. Less than a minute later, a prison guard came in and shut the blinds, letting her know that it was forbidden to have them open.
“There’s no humanity in prison,” she said. “They’re being denied sunshine.”
That moment in the prison has stuck with McHugh for years and was part of the reason she sought out work at the WPA first as a volunteer and now a full-time employee. For her, Saturday was about letting the women know that they have people on their side. The WPA and all of the volunteers who came to paint the walls and staircases, make repairs and improvements, are there rooting for them.
“We provide a physical space. Someplace safer, more comfortable,” said McHugh. “The most inspiring part of today is to have so many volunteers share their time and let these women know that they matter.”
Statistics show that women in prison receive less visitors from family and friends than male prisoners. As much as 79% of incarcerated women were abused at some point in their lives. More than half of women in prison were the primary caretakers of their children prior to their jail sentences.
Bonilla was happy the volunteers are making her home more cheerful.
“When the walls are dull, it makes you feel depressed,” she said. “I go to my drug program, then come home here. Every day, same routine. The wall outside my apartment is green. That makes me really happy. Green is the color of money. Of life.”
Bonilla has been reunited with one of her 10 children, 6-year-old CJ. The WPA has helped her get her life back after prison. Bonilla compared her life in prison to her life now, grateful for what she has overcome.
“Not having to stand up and be counted,” said Bonilla.. “Not having to share a shower with five other women. Waiting for everything, in line to eat, waiting to go to the bathroom.”
The WPA helps women reunite with their children, find employment, and reestablish themselves after leaving the criminal justice system.
Tiffany Hallett manages the building. She has been at the residence for five years and helped oversee “Rebuilding Together.”
“People that are on the outside, that haven’t been in correctional facilities,think that these people are different. And they’re not. They’re no different,” said Hallett.” “It’s their choices that set them apart. And people may say, ‘Oh, why do they have to drugs because something happened?’ But they may not have had the same circumstances, or made the same choices.”
Bonilla recently received the good news that the New York City Housing Authority has approved her for permanent housing.
“No Regrets,” she said. “Twenty –eight years of crack and I’m proud of me now. I’m happy. Fridays are my best days. I go to parenting [program], come home, pick up CJ and got to my mom’s [house].”
Blood on the sidewalk from the victims of the explosion on Saturday night. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
When a bomb in a dumpster exploded at 133 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan last night, 18-year-old Diana Shubaiev heard the deafening sound. Shubaiev was on the sidewalk outside of Epidermis, the salon where she works, handing out skincare samples when it happened.
“We heard the noise and saw people running,” said Shubaiev. “Suddenly there was like 2,000 people outside.”
As people ran up the street, some took cover in the salon. Shubaiev and co-workers that were at the salon helped to calm down the scared and injured people. The degree of injuries varied from very minor to more severe, she said.
“They say there were only minor injuries, and I know why they said it was minor, because no one died and there was no internal bleeding, but there was blood all over the place. It was like a nightmare. ” Shubaiev said.
Epidermis is one of the southernmost businesses on 6th Avenue in Chelsea. and one of the few that has reopened following the 8:30 p.m. blast. The police have shut down all activity below 24th St. while the investigation takes place. Twenty nine people were injured in the blast. A second bomb, a few blocks away did not explode.
Shubaiev stood outside the salon today, as she did last night when the bomb went off, handing out samples to draw in business to the salon. On the other side of 24th St. a line of police officers stood guard by a barricade around the area in question.
Shubaiev, who moved from Israel to Ridgewood ,Queens a month ago said that her parents called her, worried for her safety after they saw the news.
“They were crying on the phone, because I was so close to where it happened. I was scared,” she said. “In Israel, we don’t take it too hard when there is a bomb, because there is a lot of war. If they shut down every time there was a bomb, the whole country would stop.”
Shubaiev contrasted her home country’s less urgent response to bombings with that of the NYPD after the blast
“The police had everything shut down fast—five minutes—after it happened,” she said.
Or Garahian, also 18 and from Ridgewood, works with Shubaiev at Epidermis. He said immediately following the blast, people ran up 6th Avenue, directly past the salon. Garahian came outside and helped scared and injured people, ushering some inside the salon.
“They call this place a crime scene,” said Garahian. “I gave bandages to the people who were bleeding. Tried to calm them down before the ambulances got to them. Some people were clearly in shock, so we couldn’t go near them.”
While Garahian was outside trying to help people, Shubaiev lost sight of him in the crowd.
“Or was here and all of a sudden I couldn’t find him,’’ she said. “I was very worried and I was looking for him, but then he was there, helping some girls who were scared.”
“People say there are probably more bombs hidden,” added Shubaiev. “They’re still looking for them.”
Firefighters leave the memorial as flags wave near ground zero yesterday. Photo by Rebeca Corletoo
Fifteen years after the attacks of 9/11, the sun was shining, the air clear. The spot known as ground zero in the days immediately after 9/11 now serves as the memorial site. There’s a memorial museum, store, kiosks with pamphlets and tour schedules, and memorial pools. The memorial pools are both surrounded by black slabs with the names of those who died cut into their surfaces.
Groups of teenage girls gathered yesterday to take selfies in front of the twin reflecting pools, in the imprint of the Twin Towers. Tourists walk along the site plugged in to guided tours, offered for $39 at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Shoppers pass by with bags filled with mementos from the 9/11 Memorial Museum Store.
It was nothing like 15 years ago.
“It was dusty. Smokey. Ungodly,” Doug Marshall, a firefighter from New Brunswick, N.J who was a first responder . “To imagine, that outside the steel that everyone sees in pictures, there was nothing else. Pulverized. You figure all those office buildings—how many desks, chairs—there was nothing. You couldn’t find anything discernable. It was the craziest thing, the force involved.”
He and his department worked for 10 days straight following the attacks. They set up camp at New York University, with kitchens and tents, a temporary base for them to come back to each night.
Marshall pulled himself away. It was time for him and his fellow firefighters to group together for a photo. As soon as Marshall is gone, a couple takes his place and aims their selfie stick at themselves.
Watch the crowd gathered at the 9/11 memorial site and you will see markers of people in service: t-shirts with the names of the fallen beneath the words, “Never Forget”, badges and pins indicating ranks, ladder numbers, and squads. Men and women in uniform stand in clusters all around the site.
One person in uniform is Matthew Hodges, 18, from Ridgecrest, California. Hodges is in the Navy, and came to New York with several sailors from base.
“We were given the option to go to the 9/11 memorial, on the 15th anniversary. It was a chance to get away from base, so I thought I’d come check it out,” he said. “It’s a cool site, I’m from California so I’ve never been this far east. I was also really young when it happened so I like to look into it, see everything. There’s a lot of emotion down there, so it’s different.”
Hodges described 9/11 with the detachment of someone who never knew it as anything other than a historic event. He was just three years old in 2001.
Hodges said he and the other sailors from his base will spend the day at the site, eating pizza, and took photos.
But about 20 feet from the sailors, an older man in a suit and fireman’s hat stood alone at the reflecting pool reading the names from Ladder 42. He stayed for a quarter of an hour, reached out a hand to touch the bronze piece, then walked away, wiping tears from his eyes.
Barry Byrne, an off-duty firefighter from Phoenix, Arizona, wanted to visit on the anniversary. He stood out from the crowd with his jacket covered in firefighter patches and emblems and an American flag bandana worn on his head.
“America cried and America responded that day. It feels right here,” he said. “And this is a very patriotic place to be right now.”