Future of the New York blood centre ‘at stake’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The world-famous five-star, all-you-can-eat buffets are less than a mile away. The heart of Manhattan has just come under attack by a growing band of New Yorkers. Roughly…

Future of the New York blood centre 'at stake'

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The world-famous five-star, all-you-can-eat buffets are less than a mile away.

The heart of Manhattan has just come under attack by a growing band of New Yorkers.

Roughly 20,000 people are expected to attend a peace march on the Empire State Building on Saturday – drawn by a movement called the “fightnyc” website.

They are protesting against the decision by the city’s main blood bank, the Greater New York Blood Center (GNBC), to relocate to a building closer to its eight branches.

Supporters say New Yorkers will suffer if such a facility is not maintained in the city.

They have marshalled a small army to help with the rally.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Supporters say patrons will suffer if the blood centre is not maintained.

Bassist Eric Miles, of New York goth outfit Heartless Bastards, said it was a case of life or death for many people.

“Forget not thinking of New York in 2020 or 2021 – think of a New York 2020 without a blood centre,” he told the BBC.

The goal is to win an opportunity to put a referendum on the November ballot asking New Yorkers what they want for their capital.

And the foundation for Saturday’s march was the organising committee itself – a grassroots coalition that includes a woman defending her son who is in the US illegally from immigration officials, a fire-fighter and an architect who has organised protests for both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the protesters he has chastised.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Protesters accuse the Greater New York Blood Center of providing services that are less important than security and services for police

But then one radical opponent made his presence felt.

A man who had come armed with a pitchfork and called himself Icarus, stood with a wall of supporters a few metres away from the monument.

He chanted what were assumed to be warning messages against more restrictions on immigration and for their own rights.

But even as protesters gathered at the foot of the skyscraper – some with face paint and others carrying posters calling for a police contract to be publicly owned – Icarus was still there.

Riot police were called but by the time they had begun to disperse, he had vanished.

His name was Manuel Pena-Tapia and he had a smile on his face.

It was no joke. Though he was arrested – and charged with misdemeanour menacing – he insists he is well over 50 years old and born in Mexico.

So, what the hell was he doing?

“I’m a socialist,” he told the BBC.

Source: BBC

“We are a people who are suffering from the migrant problem.

“How many people are we supposed to feed?”

“I’m a middle class American citizen, an architect and a professional,” he added.

“I do not believe New York is a socialistic city.

“I am a Mexican, I do not feel their suffering.

“This is my country, my Puerto Rican. But, if I do not live here, I have no country.

“I believe New York should be a socialist city – a place of equality and of a people with social obligations.”

Source: BBC

With his galvanising force and his Mexican heritage, he may represent a growing if ill-defined threat to New York and America in general.

But if you ask his opponent what he was doing, he would say that he was a spontaneous supporter – and he wasn’t having any of the hate speech directed towards him.

“All I can do is ask that they to be civil. I want to know where they are from and then we can work things out.

“They are not from New York.”

Source: BBC

A poll carried out for the New York Post by a former chief of staff for Ed Koch, the former mayor, showed a clear majority of those who took part agreed that the Greater New York Blood Center should keep its current location in Manhattan, even if it would drive up costs for hospitals.

Some 1,251 people were interviewed, and in a poll against it, seven were hostile to the retention of the current site, more than five were hostile to the expansion of the New York Blood Centre and only one was favourable.

The Greater New York Blood Center did not respond to the BBC’s requests for comment.

The NYC Blood Center – including the New York centre – claims it currently distributes more than 12 million units a year to more than 15,000 New York hospitals and organises more than 7,000 blood drives.

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