Protesters Sunday in Manhattan held a silent march to bring awareness to the devastation people are still facing in Puerto Rico, one year after Hurricane Maria slammed the island.
"I believe that silence speaks volumes. It roars, it's deafening, and it's scary," organizer Carmen Cruz said. "The white because we come in peace, we come with faith, and we come with hope."
The group, dressed in all white, held signs and marched silently from East Harlem to Midtown at the same time protesters held simultaneous marches in Mayaguez, Vieques, and San Juan. It's a way to show solidarity between Puerto Ricans who live here in New York and those who live on the island.
The silent march came on the heels of recent controversies over the exact death toll as a result of the storm. A George Washington University study revised the island's official death toll to nearly 3,000 people, but President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the scope of the damage, claiming only 64 people were killed. Many advocates say they believe the death toll is actually much higher than 3,000.
"Nothing compounds your trauma more than having a national leader discount the level of your pain, discount your level of death, discount your level of devastation, and that's what happening nationally," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. "So the rebuilding must happen to buildings, but we have to rebuild lives to be emotionally sound to deal with this devastation."
Hurricane Maria knocked out power and wiped out entire communities on the island. Many at the New York City march Sunday said the federal government has not done enough to help the U.S. territory rebuild after the deadly storm.
"My grandmother is in Puerto Rico. She has no light right now. So it's an issue," marcher Elliot Rivera said.
"I'm disappointed. The response should have been better," said Danny Camacho of the Grand Council of the Hispanic Society. "I understand that Puerto Rico is an island by itself and it's not easy to get to, but we had the resources and we should've had a much better response."