The Reopen NY rally started around 12:40 p.m. at City Hall Park near the Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain and continued until nearly 20 police officers in a tightly packed group arrived to disperse the protest at around 2 p.m. The cops made the arrests between around 2 p.m. and around 2:30 p.m. both inside the park and outside the park on the sidewalk at Park Row. Around 20 protestors showed up to the rally. The 9 people arrested were arrested for not maintaining social distance and holding a non-essential gathering.
Thomas Saviano holds a sign at the Reopen NY rally in City Hall Park in Manhattan.
Mary Ellen Probanski, 59, a Staten Island resident, is a health paraprofessional at IS 75 school in Staten Island. She assists teachers and helps with a child who has special needs. She said the online classes her students who are between sixth and eight graders take at home due to COVID-19 lockdown measures are negatively impacting the kids' social skills. She also questioned how much kids are paying attention to online classes and completing their assignments. She added some students don't participate during their Google Classroom or Zoom classes. But, she said for some students, remote learning helps them finish their schoolwork faster. She hasn't been working in person in her school for 7 weeks.
“I’m here because Governor Cuomo is overstepping his boundaries and he’s destroying our economy," she said. "We have healthy taxpaying citizens who are not being allowed to work. What about all the people who aren’t like me? People who don’t have a steady income, waitresses, hair and nail salons, people who work for cash and tips. Those people don’t have a paycheck coming in and somebody has to speak out. I think what he’s doing is wrong so that’s why I’m here. I’m surprised at how many people are just willing to be scared and stay in their houses. I think the only people who should be self-isolating are the elderly and people who are not well because they're at risk of getting sick and not being able to recover. But everyone else, if you’re healthy, you should be out and about. I’m surprised at how many people are willing to give up their freedom so easily.”
Dorothy Sanzone, 58, a Staten Island resident, is an associate at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Staten Island. She has been out of work due to an injury at work involving a ladder where she hurt her back and neck. She works in quality control checking products at the facility. She has received physical therapy and she is in Amazon's accommodations program for four more weeks. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Amazon is unable to find her work because she is in the accommodations program. According to Sanzone, Amazon would normally allow people in its accommodations program to work in a local non-profit at the same pay they make at Amazon until the employee is fully cleared physically to return to work at the Staten Island Amazon facility. But, the COVID-19 lockdown measures are preventing her from receiving such work as many non-profits have halted. She said Amazon is doing a good job preventing employees from getting sick at the workplace and that people who are getting COVID-19 are getting sick outside the Amazon facility. “I happen to feel protected at Amazon," she said, regarding Amazon's sanitation and temperature checking protocols of employees. “I’m not worried about getting sick there.”
“We should start living our life now. We know what to do. You have a choice to wear a mask, you have a choice to wear gloves. We’re distancing ourselves from people as it is. We’re doing what we’re supposed to do. My house is as clean as it’s ever gonna be. We know what to do, we’re not babies, we don’t need to be watched. I feel like the government is controlling us. That’s what I feel and I’m not for that. I’m sorry. They’re taking away our rights. I don’t feel free here anymore. I feel like someone’s always watching me.”
Bradford Solomon, 43, a Sunnyside, Queens resident, makes the most of his money playing online poker. Although he is still able to generate income through poker, he said his decision to rally is for the sake of people out of work due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. He also said he feels the COVID-19 stay-at-home order is threatening American freedoms.
“I care about humanity and freedom and the Constitution," he said. "I’m out here because De Blasio said protests are not allowed. He’s not my emperor, I’m not gonna listen to that. I’m gonna express my First Amendment rights.”
Protestor Christine Salica poses for the camera at City Hall Park.
A protestor, 48, stands at City Hall Park. He is a manager at JFK Airport who hasn't been getting paid or been allowed to show up to the airport to work due to COVID-19 safety measures.
“I think the economy should be open again," he said. "I think they’re using the virus as an excuse to keep it closed and New York is in a big, bad debt.”
"Do not allow New York City become Nazi Germany," said Daniel Christmann, 37, a plumber.
He hasn't been able to work and make money after his work has been shut down due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. He films the protest wearing a GoPro camera on a headband.
Tom Zmich, running for election to the United States House of Representatives to represent New York’s 6th Congressional District in Queens, NY, handed out pocket-sized versions of the U.S. Constitution to the demonstrators and pedestrians at City Hall Park. He wore a "Trump" baseball cap and held a "Trump 2020" banner.
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Photos by Jimin Kim, 5/9/20
Arrests at Reopen NY Rally