Puerto Ricans stood in defiance Sunday of both hurricane Fiona that battered their Island last month and the rain that attempted to wash out a march to raise awareness for it.
Dubbed Silent Procession NYC4PR, the march was established in 2017 following the landfall of Hurricane Maria that devastated the U.S. territory. Every year since, a mute procession has been held to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles Puerto Ricans face, and this year those struggles are rife with hardships and grief more than ever following Hurricane Fiona.
With heavy rain forecasted for Harlem Sunday, the walk through the streets was canceled, but the spirit remained steadfast at a morning assembly. The large group donned in white stood quietly in White Park located at 170 East 106th St.. While the day was about calling for aid for Puerto Rico after the latest disaster, founder of Silent Procession NYC4PR Carmen Cruz recalled a huge catalyst that led to forming this action.
According to Cruz, she began her mission after becoming furious when former President Donald Trump visited the island and began throwing paper towels at those who had just suffered the crisis in 2017. The inhabitants of the commonwealth spent well over a year trying to regain power to numerous parts of the island, while infrastructure to create coastal resiliency was continuously stalled.
Last week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congress Member Nydia Velázquez blamed the Trump administration for creating obstacles that caused Puerto Rico to remain in a vulnerable state to further storm damage.
“I took it very personally. I felt very disrespected as a Puerto Rican woman. I was angry that my people were being disrespected and just kicked when we were down. And at that moment, I knew that I had to stand up not just for myself, but for the island for all my people,” Cruz said.
A sea of Puerto Rican flags flapped in the growing wind, the organization refused to concede to the elements, much like those in Puerto Rico.
Mayor Eric Adams joined Cruz to raise awareness for those who have suffered one disaster after another. Adams reinforced the fact that those facing hardships are not strangers but American citizens.
“One of the most profound moments for me was when I was in Puerto Rico last week with my colleagues, when we walked into one of the towns, one of the locations and Council Member Marjorie Velázquez was greeted by her aunt that was in one of the cities that experienced devastation after the hurricane. It just really crystallized that when people talk about Puerto Rico, they don’t realize that our families are there, people that we know, people that are very much a part of our lives,” Adams said.
The mayor also underscored the importance of continuing to highlight the needs of those, about 1.5 million, still living without power and running water.
“We are going to lift our voices to make sure we give Puerto Rico the support they deserve,” Adams said.