NEW YORK — As New York City grapples with a global pandemic, mounting tensions over police policies, and an uptick in violent crime that claimed the life of a 1-year-old boy, Mayor Bill de Blasio took a victory lap for raising millions of dollars for novel coronavirus emergency relief.
“You can see a lot of people are coming together to help New York City,” de Blasio said. “You can say there's endless need, but there’s also endless desire to help.”
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC COVID-19 Emergency Relief raised $54.5 million from about 9,000 donors to support frontline workers and vulnerable New Yorkers, de Blasio announced.
Funds will go toward programs such as the Restaurant Revitalization Program, which hires back workers who lost their jobs during the stay-in-place, according to First Lady Chirlane McCray.
“These dollars raised are reflection of how much New Yorkers care,” said McCray.
Beejhy Barhany, owner of the Ethipian restaurant Tsion Cafe in Harlem, said the program would allow her to support her workers and her neighborhood.
“They deserve fair wages, salaries so they can sustain themselves,” Barhany said. “It’s about empowerment and community development.”
Funds will also cover microgrants for domestic abuse support organizations and provide $6.8 million to the Summer Youth Employment Program, officials said.
But de Blasio was unable to maintain a purely celebratory tone after a night of drive-by shootings in Canarsie and the death of Davell Gardner Jr., the Bedford-Stuyvesant child fatally shot in the stomach Sunday night.
De Blasio said he visited the boy’s grieving family Monday.
“The pain, the grief they were feeling, the shock that they are feeling,” de Blasio said. “There’s a deep well of pain you can see in their eyes.”
This pronouncement raised questions about disintegrating police morale, the culpability of NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and his decision to disband the plainclothes anti-crime unit, which one reported suggested might merit Shea’s dismissal.
“Dermot Shea is one of the commissioners who made this the safest city,” de Blasio said. “I mean, come on, we are not dealing with business as usual.”