“Make the Road New Jersey” had makeshift “body bags” on display at the Trump Bay Street building in Jersey City this morning as the group was critical of the federal government’s COVID-19 response, calling for more relief that includes a national rent cancellation.
“Make Kushner pay!” about two dozen people chanted this morning around 10 “body bags:” black garbage bags filled to vaguely resemble bodies of the deceased.
Group members explained that the display was necessary to “highlight the gravity of the situation” across the country related to the coronavirus response, which has led to about 95,000 fatalities nationwide.
In an interview, Make the Road New Jersey organizer Nedia Morsy said that they choose this location since the building had Trump’s name on it and was owned by Kushner Companies – operated by the family of the president’s senior advisor/son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
He has also taken a lead role in handling the White House’s COVID-19 response in recent months.
“As you know, Jared Kushner is the disaster advisor, and so we came today to sort of call out the failure of the Trump administration: he hired cronies to sort of serve as his advisors and made sure to have bailouts for the rich,” Morsy said.
“Meanwhile, there are more than half a million people in New Jersey that have gone without relief in 80 days.”
Trump and other federal officials have suggested that coronavirus deaths have been over counted, though some experts disagree with this assertion, The New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, the White House has touted the president’s ability to deliver large quantities of PPE to states during their times of need.
When asked what she felt the appropriate federal response should be, Morsy said the Senate should pass the HEROS Act – the latest round of COVID-19 relief that would potentially provide financial incentives for people who file taxes without social security numbers.
The $2 trillion CARES Act did not provide incentives for anyone that falls into this category, often referred to as ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers) holders.
On the state level, she called for a disaster relief fund and stopping deportations during the pandemic.
Additionally, while Morsy said she’s supportive of the statewide $100 million rent relief fund bill awaiting action from Gov. Phil Murphy (D), she believes it’s still not enough since some people haven’t worked in nearly three months and are struggling to afford basics like food.
“It’s not just coronavirus that’s killing our communities, it’s the failed response of the federal government and the state government that’s causing all these deaths,” she added.
Management at the building, who did not identify themselves and declined to comment, noted that the 50-story luxury building consisted of condos, not rentals, and were clearly annoyed that the rally made it to their front door.
Morsy said that while Make the Road NJ certainly wants to see rent cancelled in “immigrant strong communities” like Paterson, Passaic, and Jersey City, she reiterated that Trump Bay Street is owned by Kushner Cos. and that Jared Kushner is advising the president.
Prior to the rally, the advocacy group pointed out that Kushner Cos. has filed eviction lawsuits in New Jersey, despite the eviction moratorium issued by Murphy last month.
The governor followed that by signing an executive order allowing tenants to use security deposits for rent payments.
For the most part, the group was otherwise left alone during their roughly 45-minute demonstration, with the exception of one driver who slowed down to ask what the protest was for, exclaiming “you guys are f***ing ridiculous! Get a job!” before going on his way.
Morsy seemed undeterred by anyone who shares this sentiment, noting that the Center for Migration Studies found that 202,000 undocumented workers are essential.
“That’s the largest share of essential workers in the entire state: we are the people that are keeping the state afloat,” she explained.
Kushner Cos. did not immediately return an email seeking comment.