As they do so, their security needs demand that the New York Police Department (NYPD) wreak havoc on both pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area, imposing restrictions that can cause huge headaches for business close to the U.N.
“The General Assembly affects us greatly. Every year, it’s the same thing. When the police shut down 2nd Avenue and 46th Street, it’s very bad for us,” says storeowner Monica Lee, who didn’t hesitate to share her displeasure at declining profits.
“They make people show ID to cross the street and customers can’t park their cars outside like usual. We just wait for this week to go by every year. It hurts our business but there’s no use complaining to the NYPD because even if I complained, it wouldn’t change anything.”
Everyone in the neighborhood doesn’t share Lee’s frustration though. Just one block west, on the other side of 2nd Ave, where the police barricades on roads leading to the U.N. end, Steve Dobos of Artisan Cleaners is sporting a much happier demeanor.
Despite a financial situation that he describes as difficult, shop owner Momodou M’Baye stands resolutely at the doorway of New Africa Music and Video in Harlem. Without a deluge of customers to interrupt him, he speaks at length regarding political events in his native Senegal.
“I wouldn’t say that the situation is dangerous. There’s no danger but [Senegalese President] Macky Sall’s latest decisions aren’t good,” he contends.
Back home, torrential rains have battered Dakar since mid-August and caused floods that killed 13 people and displaced at least 5,000 others. The rising waters also unearthed artifacts that were buried several thousand years ago and brought Senegal’s more recent political divisions to the surface along with them.
In response to the human and material losses, Senegalese President Macky Sall cut short a trip to South Africa and proposed to scrap the senate and the vacant vice-presidency in order to, as he put it, divert approximately $15 million in savings to invest in flood prevention.
Less than a month later, the national assembly voted in favor of his proposal despite resistance from the senate. The decision left 100 senators, most of which were handpicked by Sall’s predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, jobless.