In cities across the country, mourners are expected to join the March for the Dead on Friday to share personal stories of loss and demand accountability from the Trump administration.
Despite 175,000 Americans dying of coronavirus complications over the last eight months, there has been no official message of sympathy or condolence from the White House. So ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention, people who have lost loved ones of COVID-19 victims are sending their own message to President Donald Trump.
In New York, hundreds of protesters are expected to join the March for the Dead on Friday, walking from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to the Trump Building in Manhattan where a candlelight vigil for the dead will take place on the grounds. In addition to sharing their personal stories of loss, marchers will demand accountability from the Trump administration over its mishandling of the pandemic in the U.S.
COVID Families, a project of the Center for Popular Democracy, helped organize the event. “We are the numbers behind the COVID death toll. We are the survivors; the parents, the children, the siblings, the loved ones of those killed,” COVID Families said in a statement shared with Newsweek. “We are taking a stand.”
Similar vigils are set to take place nationwide, including in Washington, D.C., San Diego, Seattle, Wisconsin, Delaware, Arkansas, and Alaska. The RNC kicks off Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina, with activists and speakers from Resist RNC 2020 rallying in Marshall Park.
“Trump and his cowardly enablers, they all have blood on their hands,” Martin Quinn, an activist with COVID Families and activist group Rise and Resist, told Newsweek. “I don’t know how else to channel my pain but to pressure them and the rest of the country to do better.”
Widespread national polling reveals Americans are deeply dissatisfied with federal leadership’s response to the coronavirus. Results of a CNN poll released Wednesday found seven in 10 Americans are embarrassed by the U.S. pandemic response, and a recent ABC-Ipsos poll found 66% disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
This feeling was crystallized for the nation during the first night of the Democratic National Convention Monday, when Kristin Urquiza spoke of her father’s death to COVID-19. Urquiza squarely blamed the president for both minimizing the seriousness of the pandemic and pushing states to resume activity before it was safe.
Mark Anthony Urquiza, a 65-year-old quality assurance inspector described as having no underlying conditions, took precautions early on in the pandemic, such as wearing a face mask and staying home as much as possible. But when Arizona bent to pressure from President Trump to reopen May 15, the elder Urquiza “was completely under the impression that it was safe to resume activities as normal,” his daughter said. He died the next month.
“The coronavirus has made it clear that there are two Americas: The one that Donald Trump lives in, and the America that my father died in,” she said. “Dad’s death was completely unnecessary and wouldn’t have happened had we acted quickly and swiftly in a way that prioritized public health.”