People protesting outside the Manhattan building of the New York Blood Center erupted in a physical fight on Thursday.
As protesters held signs, a crowd approached the group, including some of the protesters’ attorneys, who started to argue with them.
One of the protestors, Karleen McGarrigle, said the fight began when the attorney representing the blood center got closer to the crowd. It escalated from there.
The protesters, including those representing the Rev. Al Sharpton, say that the blood center, a nonprofit New York City-based nonprofit that serves hospitals and other health-care institutions, has not been paying its rent and is owed $135,000. The center reported an income of $300,000 in 2016, according to the Center.
“They’re using our blood,” said McGarrigle, from the protest’s headquarters at Fourth Avenue and 11th Street. “If we don’t protect it and don’t stand up for it, then they don’t.”
The protestors from “Blood’s on the Line” are demanding that the blood center pay its $135,000 rent for the building at 200 East 37th Street by Sunday, to avoid the federal government’s seizure of the property. On Monday, they will have set up in front of the facility with a banner that says “Take back your money, NYBC.”
The protesters said the dispute comes down to money, and don’t expect much if anything from the blood center.
“They haven’t been paying their rent. We want our money. They haven’t gotten our money,” said a woman who gave her name as Sherry. “We’re trying to do something about it, because people are dying.”
According to a list compiled by the New York Blood Center, which announced a slowdown in blood donations on April 22, 16 of the country’s top 25 medical institutions depend on the center for blood and blood products.
Demonstrators said they are especially concerned about HIV and hepatitis C infections.
“Most of the people getting HIV/AIDS infections are where they say we have no facilities,” said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican. “This should be the fault of the federal government.”
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Investigation said that the department was trying to find out what happened to the money.
“We’re gathering information and will be releasing a detailed report of our investigation as appropriate,” said the spokesperson.
The New York Blood Center did not respond to a request for comment.
Read the full story at the New York Post.
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