By Jonathan Gomez
In response to the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico, a fundraiser to send aid was held at the MoMa PS1 in Long Island City Wednesday Night.
City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Long Island City, Astoria), along with members of the Center For Popular Democracy(CPD), led fundraiser as hundreds gathered in the museum’s courtyard in solidarity with the country that has been suffering in the aftermath of hurricane Maria.
Joining Van Bramer during the Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund, which will support organization on the island for immediate relief, recovery and rebuild in Puerto Rico, were the Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito and Actors James Franco and Rosie Perez.
“I think a lot of people are here tonight because they are outraged that the federal government hasn’t done enough for Puerto Rico,” said Van Bramer, who along with his husband, will be headed to Puerto Rico on Friday to help in the islands relief effort. “All of us have an obligation to help Puerto Rico rise again.”
The Federal response in the wake of the devastation, which was a category 4 storm, was heavily criticized by many in attendance for a less urgent approach from the efforts seen in Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“When it comes to the treatment of Florida and Texas in the wake of Harvey and Irma we are seeing a response that pales in comparison in Puerto Rico when you talk about geography and the scope of this catastrophe,” said Mark-Viverito who was born and raised in Puerto Rico.
By comparison, Puerto Rico has seen fewer personnel since the hurricane with a total of 15,000 federal staffers sent to the island. In Florida and Texas, those numbers were more than doubled after Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma.
President Trump also came under fire after his four hour trip to the island, where he downplayed the devastation of the hurricane with questionable comments and behavior.
“I am going to speak up against the racism of this administration and I will not be held back in saying that Donald Trump is a racist, in saying that he is ignorant and in saying that he has shown sociopath behavior,” said Mark Viverito, who was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico, to the crowd of hundreds attending.
While the fundraiser highlighted many of the issues surrounding the devastation and federal response on the island, the event never lost its focus. Donations for the fundraiser came from the purchase of tickets, food and beverages, which were donated by local businesses.
Correction [Friday October 6, 10:45am]: The article previously stated that over $1 million was raised. That was from a source from the Center For Popular Democracy who told Jonathan Gomez how much was raised. However, the amount was disputed by City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer’s office. We will update the story if and when we receive an actual amount.
Update [Friday October 6, 6:50pm]: Samy Nemir, spokesperson for Center for Popular Democracy, clarified that, while the CDP has raised over a million dollars through various efforts, the Van Bramer fundraiser raised $36,000.