Black coffins began to line up outside the doors of the Islamic Cultural Center in the Bronx just after 10 a.m. Sunday. They maneuvered crowds of mourners who had gathered at the mosque to bid a final farewell to friends, children, parents and relatives killed in a fire that killed 17 members of the nearby Gambian community.
Inside the house, as the men gathered downstairs, the women said consolation to each other in the prayer place on the second floor. Outside, the two tents are overflowing with families and hundreds of neighbors.
Aminata Silla, 42, had arrived early. She put the blue prayer rug on the floor in the cold morning air and pulled on her shoes eagerly.
Her aunt, Fatoumata Drammeh, One of the dead in an electric heater fire on January 9 and heavy smoke filled the apartment building on East 181st Street. It was The deadliest fire in the city In decades.
Of the eight children who died during Sunday’s funeral, three were Ms Trammein’s children and 15 were honored.
“I’m devastated,” Ms. Silla said.
The crowd was so tight and the mosque was filled with mourning that the Imam had to shout again and again on the microphone, asking the people to clear the path for the coffins and reminding the people of the dangers of fire. On the first floor, male grief pressed back against the walls.
Then 15 coffins came in, covered with black velvet cloth, and more than two dozen men were lifted up. There was a different gold embroidery on the edge of each. Six of the adult coffins are very small.
Haji Tukure sighed as his eyes swelled as he slowly lowered someone to the floor. He lost his son-in-law Haji; His nephew’s wife Haja; And their three young children, Fatumata, 5; Mariam, 11; And Mustafa, 12.
“This innocence, these young children,” Mr. Dukuray, 60, said. “They have no job being here.”
Elected officials, including Mayor Eric Adams; State Attorney General, Letidia James; And Senator Chuck Schumer sat in the front row of the urns at the packed funeral.
Sheikh Musa Tramme, the head of the Islamic Cultural Center, could not contain his anger, and his voice rose sharply as he delivered his words to them.
“If these people had lived in Midtown Manhattan, this would not have happened. They would not have needed space heaters. The circumstances in which they lived in the Bronx led to their deaths,” he said, turning to officers and adding: “Mr. Mayer, did you hear that? Did you hear, Mr. Schumer?”
“We’re number one for everything bad,” he said at the Bronx, and the crowd agreed loudly. “They will never achieve the American dream because they lived in the Bronx. Their families will never see them again because they lived in the Bronx. We are doing this funeral today because they lived in the Bronx.
Mr. Adams stood up and said he has his commitment as mayor to support families.
“What’s going on here in the Bronx is what’s happening across our city where there are communities of black, brown and immigrants,” he said. “It’s time to end those inequalities, so that our children and our families are not shattered by tragedy. The American dream of many was burned in that fire.
When the service took place, Governor Kathy Hochul announced $ 2 million in government funding to help tenants replace lost or damaged personal belongings and lose income due to rent, relocation and death of a family member.
During the service, Imam Musa Kabba said he struggled to control his emotions as the names of the families devastated by the fire – Dukuray, Drammeh, Jambang, Konteh, Tungara, Toure.
“When the Lord asks for something, there is no choice but to agree,” he said, “trying to control myself.”
The family members began to cry quietly.
“My heart is over,” said Yahya Sankara, 33, who lost his sister and two nephews.