Crime on the rise, vacant apartments and stores, omnipresent homeless people: New York commemorates the World Trade Center attacks in a deep context of crisis, a political battle issue in the run-up to the US presidential election.
Crime on the rise, vacant apartments and stores, omnipresent homeless: New York commemorates the World Trade Center attacks in a deep context of crisis, a political battle issue ahead of the US presidential election.
(ASdN with AFP) – A very sad anniversary. Despite the pandemic, the first American metropolis will hold its annual ceremony on Friday in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the deadliest attacks in history. But covid requires, the commemoration of the events will be adapted.
If two minutes of silence will be observed during the hours when the planes hijacked by the jihadists have struck the towers of the World Trade Center, the families of the victims will not take turns at the microphone to speak. For this 19th anniversary, they had to record their interventions. But they may end up, with masks and physical distancing, at the “Ground Zero” site Memorial, whose museum will reopen for the first time since March.
Nineteen years later, September 11 remains synonymous with the heroism of New Yorkers. New York leaders repeat that it is thanks to their “resilience” that the city has, for a month, brought below 1% the rate of contamination of a virus that has killed more than 23,000 New Yorkers. But all also stress, like Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, that this resilience is now severely tested by the “side effects”, economic and social, of the pandemic.
Empty offices until 2021?
Gale Brewer, president of the Manhattan district, recognizes that this island symbol of the effervescence of New York is today weighed down by multifaceted problems. Some are a direct result of the coronavirus: almost all of the banks, insurance companies and other “white-collar” companies, switched to telecommuting in March, have maintained it, emptying the business districts and condemning thousands of small restaurants that fed their families. employees at noon.
If the more than 60 million tourists who visit New York annually have disappeared, New Yorkers have also fled by the thousands: at least 35,000 people have left Manhattan, in view of the postal ballot requests recorded for the presidential election, according to the president. of New York District Gale Brewer. Many businesses have also closed: between 2017 and 2020, the number of vacant businesses almost doubled (+ 78%), she says.
As for homeless people, their visibility has increased with the closure of many shelters and the transfer of some 13,000 of them to empty hotels in Manhattan, she said. The increase in murders and shootings (+ 47% and + 166% respectively in August compared to August 2019) is one of the striking signs of this New York crisis.
A far cry from the rampant crime New York experienced in the 1970s and 80s, the city, which prided itself on being one of the safest in the world, has now returned to 2012 crime levels, according to the New York Times.
“I can not tell you how many calls I receive from New Yorkers (..) literally worried about the degradation of the city”, summarized Tuesday Mr. Cuomo. All New York leaders say they are convinced that the city will go up the slope, but how soon? If the city shows signs of recovery – including the reopening of museums that began at the end of August and, at the end of September, dining rooms – it could take three years, estimates Gale Brewer, reporting the opinion of real estate developers.
In the meantime, less than two months before the presidential election, this crisis has become a subject of conflict with the Trump administration. The Republican President repeats that the increase in crime in the Democratic stronghold of his hometown is the consequence of the incompetence and laxity of his elected officials. Again Tuesday, he accused the mayor and governor of New York of “destroying” the city.
New York officials denounce the refusal of the former real estate mogul and Republicans to grant billions of dollars to New York – as to other Democratic cities – to make up for their huge losses in tax revenue. “Trump is trying to kill New York, it’s personal, it’s psychological,” Cuomo said Tuesday.
Friday, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will follow one another at the crash site. With less than two months of the presidential elections, the two candidates will try to exercise, on this particular date for the Americans, to pose as a leader and avoid spoiling this moment of national unity.