Local community groups and those personally affected by Hurricane Maria will march on Trump Tower Thursday—the one year anniversary of the storm's landfall in Puerto Rico—as part of a nationwide week of action aimed at pushing the federal government to commit to a just and transparent rebuilding process on the island.
The event will begin with a bilingual memorial service at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue, to be followed by a candlelit vigil and march to Trump Tower. Families and individuals who were displaced to New York City after Hurricane Maria are expected to speak at the event, alongside Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Public Advocate Tish James, actress Lauren Vélez, and others.
"Our national coalition has worked for almost a year demanding that the Trump Administration take responsibility for its failure to prepare for and adequately respond to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico," said former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who now serves as the campaign director of the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition, in a statement.
She added, "The Puerto Rican people demand that the White House own its failures and support the Puerto Rican people in rebuilding, instead of offering denials and rebuttals that serve no one but the President. On the Anniversary of Hurricane Maria, our community will come together to mourn. And this coming November, our mourning turns to voting."
The humanitarian crisis destroyed 70,000 homes and left 3.3 million residents without power, some for nearly a year. Clean drinking water was not restored to parts of the island for more than 9 months. According to an extensive report released by George Washington University, an estimated 3,000 people were killed as a result of Hurricane Maria. An earlier study conducted by scientists at Harvard found that the death toll could be even greater, perhaps as high as 5,000 people.
Despite this, and the fact that FEMA admitted to making grave organizational and personnel errors during the storm, President Trump has continued to insist that "we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico." Last week, the president falsely claimed that 3,000 people did not die as a result of the hurricane, in a tweet that sparked backlash from both Democrats and some Republicans.
A poll conducted this week by Huffington Post/You Gov found that roughly 25 percent of Americans believed President Trump's death toll conspiracy, and that only a tenth of Trump voters believe that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storm.
Tomorrow's event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at St. Bartholomew's Church at 325 Park Avenue. The march to Trump Tower will begin at 7:30 p.m. More info here.