OP-ED: A New Rochelle Resident’s Open Letter to The Daily News

Written By: Robert Cox

Thanks for the March 11th, 2020 front-page headline in The Daily News “NEW ROCH-HELL”. You have done more damage than good. Your headline attached a permanent stigma to our city and did nothing but stir fear and panic. Not here in New Rochelle, but in the rest of the country. Living and working in New Rochelle, life is much different than what you portray.

Today I got home from work in the morning and my wife and I got our children ready for school, where they haven’t missed a day due to this outbreak of COVID-19. After that I went to my second job and my wife went to her job. Life here is NOT the image your newspaper painted a picture of. That picture you painted is an armed militia and a community quarantined with infection. Neither is accurate.

My young children ages 7 and 11 are straight A students. They also play hockey 3-5 days a week and have been doing so since the season started in September and for a few years prior. Up to this point, since the beginning of the year, they have worked as hard as they could, going to school, rushing home to do homework, having dinner, rushing off to practice, sometimes getting home well beyond their bedtimes, showering, then rushing to bed. Most weekends consist of getting up early for hockey, sometimes 4:45am to get to early games, then throw in music lessons, different sports, Church and back to hockey for another game before we finally get home to wind down. We are an active family and that’s how we like it. For the past 7 months my children have been looking forward to one of our two tournaments during our 7-month season. Unfortunately we will not be going. Not because we can’t afford it (we have been saving up to go), not because we live here in New Rochelle and are under any restrictions or quarantine, and not because they cancelled the tournament. Things changed today, March 11th, after you put New Rochelle on the front page which caused people to discriminate against us.

Let me give you the reasons that were emailed to me why we will not be allowed to attend the tournament:

 “Here are some factors over the last 24 hours we have been informed on that helped us and the board make this decision:”

  • There will be no staff at the upcoming game Friday night for the Squirts
  • Two different teams are refusing to play us (Squirt and Mite). Those would then potentially be forfeits / less games.
  • In addition, parents from more than 10 teams are asking us not to attend and threatening to pull out / not play us if we do attend.

 Needless to say we are not going to the tournament. My children are crushed and to be honest, so are my wife and I. We were concerned slightly before the tournament but figured people are better than that when in crisis. The way I’ve seen people come together after 9/11 was glorious! Unfortunately, that is not the case here. We can handle ourselves as parents but the thought of having children on other teams degrading and humiliating our children is unacceptable. This is not to mention the parents who will encourage their children to dis-associate with our children and treat them like outcasts.

So while you may have sold many papers by instilling fear and panic to America, you have also made an entire country bias towards the wonderful and hard working people of this town. It’s hard enough to navigate through life’s obstacles and then add COVID-19 to it. On top of that you have created a blight worse than COVID-19 and taken away our right to be treated equally. Going forward, we will be looked at as being an infectious community. When we go out of town, people are already staring at us as though we are diseased. They distance themselves as though we are infected even though we are not. You helped to create the headline that you wrote!

We can still manage even with that because we are much stronger than you ever could imagine! We were born here and we were raised here. We are hardworking and driven. Our moral fiber is unquestionable. We are a contribution to society.

We are #NEWROSTRONG

Richard Bongiorni

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