After it was announced that Joe Biden will be the new president-elect, celebrations erupted across the county within minutes, including here in Brooklyn. People took to the streets, danced, banged the drums, and popped bottles. Grand Army Plaza, in particular, was crowded with people wearing masks and dancing all throughout Saturday. People driving by were honking their cars and children were perched on their parent’s shoulders. Senator Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio both visited the Plaza during different times to speak to Brooklynites celebrating. Schumer even called Biden and had him hear the cheers.
“This is a great day for this country and for the city, because not only do we have leaders who are going to move us forward. And, Joe Biden, I’m absolutely convinced, is a leader who’s going to get so much done to put this country back on its feet and heal this nation. That’s who he is,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “That’s the kind of person that he is. And Kamala Harris is going to do so much by his side and has fundamentally changed this nation already by showing that leadership is for everyone, everyone’s talents will be honored and respected.”
“This is an amazing turning point, but what it means for us here in New York City, in particular, is that we will have three things that we need desperately. We will now have clear national leadership in fighting the coronavirus with a clear message, a clear vision, a clear strategy that we can believe in – that’s one. Two, a vaccine we can trust. That’s going to be crucial. A vaccine that when it is finally announced and distributed people will believe it is the real thing and be ready to take it,” he continued. “And three, of course, that stimulus that will put us back on our feet, a stimulus big enough and focused enough to help NYC and NYS get moving.”
“We’re going to get all three of those things, I’m convinced, because of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So, that’s extraordinarily good news,” he said. “And that’s going to be a game-changer. And the people in this city are feeling it. They’re feeling a sense of a weight lifted, a sense of hope and possibility, and putting behind us what has been such a painful and divisive time for our nation, for our city. I don’t know about you, but I feel a sense of calm, a sense of peace that I haven’t felt in a long time because we finally have a clear result to this election.”
Sally Joseph, 35, was at Grand Army Plaza early Saturday evening with her two daughters. She said she didn’t vote for Biden because she likes him; she voted for him because she hates President Donald Trump. It was a sentiment many people shared.
“I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. I wish I could have voted for him last week, too. Joe Biden isn’t a good candidate. There are so many things that he has said that are problematic. But, the orange man in the White House, I think, is far worse,” she said. “It has been a tough four years, I’ll tell you that much. Constantly having to worry about whether or not mine and my daughters’ rights will be taken away any second? That’s an awful feeling.”
Joseph is a resident of Bay Ridge, which is part of Brooklyn that voted red. She told Bklyner, she feels ashamed, but not at all surprised.
“That part of Brooklyn is racist. There are white supremacists and people who love guns and love our president. I thought we could make some change and at least keep some blue seats locally, but even that wasn’t possible. My new Congresswoman is a Republican, literal Trump supporter. I don’t know who my new Senator will be,” she said. “It’s a tough time down in Bay Ridge, but hopefully we get some good news next week.”
The news Joseph is referring to is the absentee ballots, which will begin to be counted this week. As of now, Congressman Max Rose has no chance of keeping his seat and Nicole Malliotakis has already delivered a victory speech. Republican Vito Bruno is leading in the State Senate against incumbent Andrew Gounardes, but absentee ballots could still give Gounardes a win. As of now, anything is possible.
Samuel Batista, 24, is a resident of Park Slope and was celebrating with his friends at Grand Army Plaza. He said he only became involved in politics four years ago when Trump was elected president. And now, he doesn’t go an hour without checking for updates on the news.
“My best friends are DACA recipients. They came from these countries when they were babies. America is the only home they know. They have had to live in fear of being deported back to a country they don’t even know,” Batista said. “Trump didn’t just say stuff. He did stuff. He stopped policies, he created policies, he put people’s lives in danger. I am so happy he is no longer the president. Honestly, I don’t even care for Joe Biden. I think there should be an age limit for running for president. More young people should be running. You know what? Maybe I’ll run one day.”
His friends laughed along with him and patted him on the shoulders. And then they moved toward where the drums were banging and started dancing along to the beat, along with hundreds of other people. Everyone was wearing a mask, though there was no social distancing at the Plaza on Saturday. And it seemed to be the case with gatherings across the nation.
“Imagine seeing this as a business owner in NYC who just got a $1,000 fine for having two people in your store at the same time,” Council Member Chaim Deutsch Tweeted in response to a video of people crowded at Prospect Park. “Imagine seeing this as someone who couldn’t say goodbye to a dying parent who lay alone in the hospital. It’s just deeply irritating & unfair.”
Jamilah Brown, 27, campaigned for Biden. But she said that work is done, and now it’s time to hold him accountable.
“Honestly? I’m going to get a long night’s sleep after I’m done with today. It’s been a long year and I’m glad that this is the outcome,” Brown said. “What makes me emotional is knowing that us gays no longer have to be afraid. I can love who I want to love without the fear of her being taken away from me. We are no longer afraid.”