Hundreds flocked to Times Square Tuesday evening to mourn Michelle Alyssa Go, the 40-year-old woman who was fatally pushed in front of a subway train on Saturday by an emotionally disturbed homeless man.
Elected officials and New Yorkers of all ages stood as one in the heart of New York City on Jan. 18 as they not only remembered Go’s life, which was suddenly snuffed out in a possible hate crime, but also strove to make sense of why it was taken.
Standing in Duffy Square, gripping signs and shielding flickering candles, several jumbo screens ceased showcasing a litany of advertisements and in their place depicted the face of Michelle Alyssa Go alongside victims of anti-Asian hate crimes. For many, the heartbreaking portrait of Go which, looked down upon the amassing crowd below, highlighted a need to not only serve the AAPI community better, but to also properly care for the mentally ill.
“We cannot allow our train system to be our mental health support system. We must have mental health services that are provided to those in need,” Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said. “I don’t know how many of you heard from the sister of the perpetrator. She told the story of a brother who when he was younger was like anyone else, working hard, playing by the rules and then in his 30s something shifted, his mental health went. He went to the hospital, she asked them to keep him, to take care of him because he is in desperate need of support and we failed him, and as a result of us failing him, we failed Michelle. So now what we have to do is we must stop the madness. We have to provide supportive services, hospital beds, mental health institutions, for those in need.”
Organized by advocacy group Asians Fighting Injustice, emotions poured out of the somber event as Janet Noh honored Go’s memory with an original song that reverberated throughout Times Square.
Onlookers hugged flowers to their chests while others such as Mayor Eric Adams hung their heads in sorrow.
“This is New York City, the most diverse place on the globe. It’s time for us to come together as a city and not allow these issues to take place. Our heart goes out to this family. I asked the press to please allow the family to mourn. Give them the privacy that they deserve. And I ask all of us to see why we are members of the greatest race alive, and that’s the human race,” Adams said.
As speakers continued to express their anguish over the loss of a New Yorker, a shrine to Go was erected nearby, allowing attendees to pay their respects. Go’s murder further underscores the rising fears of many straphangers due to the influx of crime and emotionally disturbed individuals finding shelter within transit caverns. While citizens and many politicians alike call for change, only time will tell if and when that change will come.