Bertha Lewis, CEO of the Black Institute, a progressive think tank, also called out the governor for using minority churches as “props.”
“Stop doing this to us,” Lewis said during a #WeAreEssential rally outside of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Thursday, according to the New York Post. “We’re not a `pop-up’ community. We’re tired of being treated as props and pawns by Governor Cuomo. …. He only shows up at Black and Brown churches when he wants a photo op. Enough is enough.”
“We’re tired of being treated as props and pawns by Governor Cuomo. …. He only shows up at Black and Brown churches when he wants a photo op. Enough is enough.”
Lewis was reportedly referring to news conferences Cuomo has held in minority communities that have excluded the press amid his nursing home and sexual harassment scandals.
Across the state, 17 “pop-up” vaccination sites have been set up in houses of worship, according to the Post.
Several of the rally speakers stressed the importance of designating churches as essential so they could open up and be long-term vaccination sites in minority communities in the city, where many have yet to be vaccinated.
“Our houses of worship can play a big role in vaccinating Black and Brown New Yorkers, but Governor Cuomo must designate them as essential to make that happen,” Pastor Gil Monrose of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council in Brooklyn, said at the rally, according to the Post. “Until a larger number of our folks are vaccinated against COVID, our communities will be left out of the recovery after COVID.”
New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams said the city can’t underestimate the “power of credible messengers” in getting people vaccinated.
“Time and time again, I have found that our diverse community of interfaith clergy has the essential trust of audiences who are receptive to their messages, from vaccinations and preventive healthcare to youth empowerment and caring for our homeless neighbors in need.”
Ralliers held up signs that read, “I am essential,” and “#HowToVaxNYC.”
A spokesperson for the New York Health Department told the Post, “We enthusiastically welcome any offer to join New York’s multi-pronged, multi-faceted efforts in breaking down barriers to access and empowering all New Yorkers to confidently make the decision to get vaccinated. Our goal is to get as many shots into as many arms as we can, as quickly and equitably as humanly possible … We look forward to reviewing their plans.”
The rally coincided with the National Day of Prayer.