The Week in Rewind | An abandoned cat, Co-op City avoids a worker strike and South Bronx students tackle gun violence

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University Prep High School students express fear, frustration and fortitude at Wednesday’s march against gun violence.
Photo Adrian Childress

The following stories spotlight the work of the Bronx Times for the week of June 6.

Cat’s out of the bag: Feline stuck in two garbage bags ditches the Bronx for Brooklyn luxury

Panda the cat may have been a Bronxite, but he’s done with the borough. The black-and-white furry creature was found in a plastic bag tied shut in a knot inside another garbage bag at West Tremont and Jerome avenues within the 46th Precinct in the Bronx on the morning of Feb. 6.

Panda the cat, who was found in a tied-together plastic bag and abandoned in the Bronx, shortly after finding his fur-ever home. Photo courtesy Abigail Jasak

In comes Abigail Jasak who ultimately gave Panda his fur-ever home, officially adopting him on March 23.

“He was very attached to us,” she told the Bronx Times. “I didn’t have it in my heart to abandon him again. He had such a sad life before and he already believed he was home, so I said alright, you’re home buddy.”

 

As part of citywide initiative, students from 12 Bronx schools speak out on social justice issues through art

On June 2, students from 12 Bronx public schools held an event at Revered T. Wendell Foster Park displaying benches depicting gun violence, mental health, women’s rights, racism, bullying and LGBTQIA+ rights for the public to see. The benches will remain there until September.

“In this current climate, young people need a public platform to express themselves on current social issues in a constructive, creative and powerful way, so they can join the conversation and make a difference in our world,” said Alexandra Leff, creator of CEI Benchmarks and CEI executive director of arts education. “We are so proud of our students who have confronted major social issues through their beautiful and powerful bench murals. Their messages for social change on a wide array of critical issues will inspire hundreds of thousands of people this summer in our citywide parks exhibition.”

 

Strike averted: Co-op City union workers preserve employer-paid health care, see wage increases in Riverbay Corporation contract

Co-op City averted a strike that would have impacted the giant housing cooperative with almost 500 unionized property service workers following a tentative agreement made with Riverbay Corporation management Monday night. A priority for the union was ensuring management didn’t try to pull back the fully employer-paid health care, saying “no givebacks.”

Co-op City workers voted to authorize a strike if necessary, but the bargaining committee has reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that the union calls a win. Photo Aliya Schneider

“If it wasn’t obvious before, a global pandemic has made the importance of healthcare crystal clear,” Kimberly Hutchinson, a union bargaining committee member and Co-op City dispatcher and shop steward said at the rally. “We have been putting our lives on the line to keep these buildings running as we proudly serve the beautiful residents of Co-op City. Our healthcare is not something that we can chip away at. We will not let our employers take money out of our paychecks for our healthcare.”

 

In the South Bronx, cyclical gun violence is met with uncomfortable numbness and a desire to leave

Despite vows from Bronx pols such as U.S Rep. Ritchie Torres and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson to interrupt the cycle of senseless gun violence in Bronx neighborhoods, an uncomfortable mood of numbness and desire to leave New York City has already settled in for a strong population of the borough’s southernmost residents.

South Bronx students such as 17-year-olds Julie Etwarwin and Jaden McLean told the Bronx Times Wednesday that they’ve become increasingly “desensitized” and “numb” to the shootings that killed their classmate Yambo two months ago and also took the life of 11-year-old Kyhara Tay last month in Foxhurst.

“When (Angellyh) lost her life, I was genuinely hurt for a second but then I got over it pretty quickly, only because this occurs pretty frequently,” said McLean. “I’m low-key numb to it. You don’t want to feel that way, but people lose their life all the time here, and you really only worry about how you’ll make it home.”

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