Phase 1 of Reopening New York City began on June 8, 2020 under the direction of Governor Cuomo. After successfully managing to combat the worst of Covid-19, some businesses were allowed to reopen with safety stipulations in place. Local residents in Jackson Heights began to emerge from a lockdown that had seen silent streets for the best part of three months.
In the couple of weeks prior to reopening, scores of peaceful protests had taken place throughout NYC in response to police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, amongst others. Some of these protests were co-opted by small groups of people looting and damaging neighborhoods, forcing a number of businesses in Queens to prepare for the worst. Many storefronts were boarded up as a precautionary measure against potential damage as protests continued.
The current landscape has an underlying consistent theme. Scenes of a homeless person with a constructed protective shield, boarded-up premises, plastic barriers in stores and people wearing face masks while lining up for Covid-19 tests. All of them point to the same thing: a desire for people to feel protection from the different pandemics at play. One is a virus barely six months old. The other is a well-established system of oppression that has been in place since 1619. Both are equally destructive forces.
Amidst all of this, a brand new Starbucks opened its doors during the same week that some local vendors shuttered theirs for good due to Covid-19 related financial pressure.