Speaker Pleads With Press to Give Space to East Harlem Victims

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/Willam Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/Willam Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito wants the media to back off a little bit when it comes to its coverage of last week’s East Harlem gas explosion.

Ms. Mark-Viverito, who represents the neighborhood, told reporters today their coverage of the victims was becoming “overwhelming.”

“This community is in great pain and we have some of the families impacted that are here,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said at the Church of God, a predominately Spanish-speaking church just blocks from the building collapse.

“I am going to make a plea to the press to give them some space. Many of the families have walked through our doors in great pain talking about how overwhelming it is that they have been hounded by the press relentlessly,” she continued.

Ms. Mark-Viverito didn’t expand on her comments any further or offer examples of how the media was causing locals distress in the wake of Wednesday’s explosion, which leveled two buildings and traumatized many in the tight-knit community. Her remarks were a departure from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s own brief speech to the parishioners, which focused on the heroics of first responders and the resilience of the community. 

The East Harlem disaster has thrust the new speaker into the media spotlight. She has appeared with Mr. de Blasio at various press events since the blast and drew praise for her ability to communicate facts of the disaster in fluent Spanish. She also drew headlines for appearing to criticize Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not speaking out on the incident.

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