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De Blasio Praises Residents at Home for Blind People Near Chelsea Explosion Site
Three days after an explosion rocked Chelsea and injured 29 people, Mayor
Bill de Blasio visited a nearby home for people with vision impairments,
where the residents praised the city’s response and weighed in on how it
The mayor chatted with Nancy Miller, executive director and CEO of VISIONS
at Selis Manor at 135 W. 23rd St. as well as some of the tenants. They
discussed how residents were faring in the aftermath of the explosion just
outside their building, as well as what they would like to see the city do
to assist them.
“You got a strong-willed group of residents here, that no one’s taking
their independence away,” de Blasio said.
When the mayor said he would set up a meeting with the precinct commander
for the area,Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito jumped in
and said he woulddo it right away.
“That’s fast service. Joe Esposito!” de Blasio said, his response met with
laughter from the residents.
An NYPD spokeswoman said there were no updates at this time. The 29
individuals who were injured in the explosion have since been released from
Addressing reporters following the meeting with the mayor, Miller, the
executive director of the home, said “everybody was reaching out”: she was
in touch with Victor Calise, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for
People with Disabilities; Department of Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado;
and the New York State Commission for the Blind.
She noted that the building is well-known and that the residents—who range
in age from 18 years old to people close to 100 years old—are independent
and typically navigate on their own, “but if they have no access, they
can’t get in touch.”
“They could walk on their floors but the police wouldn’t allow them to
leave the building,”Miller said. “The building was on lock down. If they
could walk down 12 flights,you know. The elevators were out.”
She added that after the bomb exploded, people were kept on the first floor
“until the Fire Department went door to door, made sure there was no fire,
that there was no other incendiary device.”
Sharon Joyner, a resident at the home, said she is concerned that the
building will attract negative attention given that it is in the press due
to the explosion, also noting the slashing of a 24-year-old woman in the
area by a stranger back in January.
She also said“ISIS really doesn’t like people with disabilities” and said
called the mayor’s presence and the city’s overall response “excellent.”
“They got here so fast, it was amazing how fast they got here. And they
helped us to feel that we were protected, cared about and really concerned
for our safety,” she said.
But she said that the residents would like to see more officers patrolling
the area more often, particularly at night. She also expressed concerns
about homeless individuals in the area.
“Especially in the evening, we have to walk our dogs—most of us have
service animals,” Joyner continued. “We have to come out and we’re
concerned. I think two blocks away from here, there’s a shelter. So we do
have a lot of homeless that come on this block as well…sometimes I have
been harassed by homeless or other people.”
At a briefing at One Police Plaza yesterday, de Blasio said all evidence
points to the explosion being an “act of terror,” a significant shift from
his stance over the weekend—he only referred to it as an “intentional act,”
in stark contrast with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s analysis of the explosion (Cuomo
said it was“obviously” terrorism.)
Police Commissioner James O’Neill, whose first full day on his new job as
the city’s top cop coincided with the explosion, had said that they would
determine whether it was an act of terrorism once the motivation was
Although the mayor and the governor toured Chelsea together for 40 minutes
Sunday morning,they each held separate briefings that morning. And despite
the fact that the mayor invited the governor to attend his briefing Monday
afternoon, the governor was not in attendance.