Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy
Note: Faces of the asylum seekers have been blurred
Despite assurances from the site supervisors at the former St Brigid school for a cooperative effort in a food and clothing distribution yesterday, things did not go according to plan.
As is the case so often when working with the city's asylum-seeker sites, like here on Seventh Street and Avenue B, snafus started early, with access denied, not allowing us to feed people, and (literally) shutting the doors and windows to the clothing pipeline. media attention and freezing temperatures, asylum seekers waiting in line to receive placement are now allowed indoors, where they can begin trying to find space in a new shelter after receiving their 30-day notice from previous locations.
Some opt for reticketing elsewhere (anywhere in the world, one-way tickets are available), but only a few. I personally have only witnessed three in the past week. Those who cannot be placed in the system return to Bathgate in the Bronx, where they can sleep on the floor and start the process here again the following morning.
Since people were indoors yesterday, on-site officials would not let them exit and re-enter to receive the donated meals and clothing that they needed.
At one point, a pipeline was established to provide clothing and food through the windows, but security soon shut all the windows and ended this makeshift distribution.East Village Loves NYC prepared 450 hot Halal meals, and Pep Kim from Cafe Chrystie donated hot coffee, sweatshirts, socks, and other merch to the effort. Coats, scarves, and gloves were also donated by local residents via a drive with the East Village Community Coalition.
Pastor Will Kroeze from Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish on Ninth Street and Avenue B was able to take some of the extras to provide for other community members in need.
EV Loves NYC co-founder Mammad Mahmoodi explains, "The City requested our meals multiple times. We put so much effort and energy into getting 450 meals, snacks, coffee, tea, etc. together — from 5 a.m.! — to be rejected [from providing] service inside for hungry folks. We even moved to send some meals via windows that they blocked. Meals were outside, hungry folks inside, and the city blocked the connection."
In an image provided by an anonymous source from inside St. Brigid, we were shown the on-site meals delivered by ReThink Foods that indicate mold on the rolls.