On Sat. May 16, nearly 200 people rallied for the New York state government to reopen “non-essential” businesses in New York City. The rally was in a parking lot at Showplace Entertainment Center on Staten Island where people gathered filling it with cars, trucks and motorcycles. People among the rally included small business owners and employees who have been unable to work since the March 22 NY state closure of all “non-essential” businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rally-goers included event organizer, Steve Margarella, owner of Margarella Asphalt & Concrete. Also present were restaurant owners, retail store owners, the owner of a motorcycle riding school, hairdressers and others who haven’t been able to work due to the lockdown order. As of May 16, under the New York state government’s phased reopening plan, 5 state regions – Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier – have met all criteria to begin a phased reopening of “non-essential” businesses. New York City has only met 3 of the 7 metrics needed to start reopening.
Photo Caption: Some employees of LTR Motorsports, a motorcycle school on Staten Island, attended the rally. Their motorcycle school has been forced to pause working following the state-wide COVID-19 lockdown.
A group of trucks from Advanced Site Contractors Incorporated, a residential construction company, honk their horns in support of the rally as rally-goers, right, clap in response. The trucks later parked at the rally and the drivers came out to the rally.
Two men touch elbows to greet one another in front of trucks from Advanced Site Contractors Incorporated, a residential construction company, parked at the rally.
Malinda Montemarano, a realtor and Staten Island resident, poses for a portrait. Montemarano has only been able to work remotely due to the COVID-19 lockdown. She said it is difficult to work as a realtor when she can’t work in person. She said there should have been a full reopening of non-essential businesses on May 1 in New York.
“We feel like we’re in prison, under house arrest,” she said. “I can’t work.”
Jimmy, owner of LTR Motorsports in Staten Island and a motorcycle instructor, poses for the camera. Jimmy is a Staten Island resident who has been forced to pause working at his motorcycle riding school due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
“It’s a flu on steroids and I get it, alright the coronavirus, I’m not knocking it. But we’re adults.”
He voiced his concern about the state government’s lockdown as people have to work to pay their bills.
“This is why there are rallies going on because they [the state politicians] are not caring about small businesses and that is the backbone of New York or any other state,” he said. “It’s about us getting back to work, feeding our families. We’re being controlled and that’s what we’re against. Our constitutional rights are being stripped and nobody sees this. So when Cuomo says, ‘virus – stay home,’ everybody panics. So to me, those are people who are sheep. The virus is real, 100 percent. But we’re adults.”
Scott LoBaido, a Staten Island artist, poses for a portrait. During the COVID-19 pandemic, LoBaido made a large “Thank You” sign in front of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York City to show appreciation to the medical staff at the hospital.
Rally attendees place their right hand over their chest during the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.
Rally attendees hold a moment of silence for people who have died due to COVID-19.
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Photos by Jimin Kim, 5/16/20
Reopen NYC Rally