By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that the city allocated $500,000 in grants for Bronx businesses that were recently vandalized and looted.
“We’ll provide a variety of help to all those small businesses that were affected,” said de Blasio during a press conference. “Legal help, help get insurance, whatever it takes to get them back on their feet.” The emergency business grant program will give businesses up to $10,000 each to help with recovery.
The city secured funds with the help of SOMOS Community Care, a network of advocate community providers in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
Looters devastated businesses on Burnside Road and Fordham Avenue in the Bronx Monday night, the fifth day of consecutive protests across the city. Demonstrators first took the streets a week ago to protest police brutality after Minneapolis man George Floyd died after a police officer pressed his knee into the back of his neck to pin him to the ground.
Although the protests are generally peaceful during the day, protests have taken violent turns at night ending in arrests, pepper spray, fires, looting, and scuffles with the police. To prevent looting and vandalism, on Sunday Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an 11 p.m. curfew for New York City. The curfew took effect Monday, June 1 and the city doubled the number of police officers patrolling city streets from 4,000 to 8,000.
But despite the curfew and increased police presence, looting and vandalism still occurred on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
“We saw attacks on communities in the Bronx, and in Manhattan, just pure vandalism criminality, only for personal gain, not for any cause,” said de Blasio. On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio visited Fordham and Burnside and later said he was touched by the number of Bronxites cleaning up streets.
“We have small business owners fighting back. We have community residents cleaning up the streets, not accepting anyone who would try to destroy their community, standing up, reclaiming their streets, their neighborhood, their city,” he said. “We will help them.”