Grave Marker Fund for Homeless Man Beaten to Death on the Bowery Last Year
It’s been exactly one year since the city was rocked by the fatal bludgeoning of homeless men on the Bowery while they slept. Of the five beaten by 24-year-old attacker Randy Santos, four ultimately died – Chuen Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran, and Nazario Vasquez-Villegas.
In the days that followed the murders, elected officials and nonprofits held several rallies calling for increased funding for homeless programs and services, yet any improvements are seemingly undetectable. Despite city government investment counting in the hundreds of millions, we’ve witnessed an explosion of homelessness related to the pandemic. Mayor de Blasio’s strategy of housing the homeless in hotels backfired when NIMBY Upper West Side residents protested the housing of homeless men in their neighborhood. His response to homelessness has always been more of a reaction to bad press, and not of concrete action (job training, counseling for substance abuse, and treatment for mental health issues).
In Chinatown, the homeless population exploded in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown in early March. With few places to shelter, they became more visible on the streets. Especially the sheer number of Chinese/Asian seniors.
As with other high-profile disappointments in her district – such as super-tall towers in Two Bridges and a high-rise jail – Councilwoman Margaret Chin is letting down vulnerable seniors and immigrants in a neighborhood where she grew up.
Chuen Kwok was one such vulnerable senior who, after the passing of his partner, fell on hard times. He started living on the streets of Chinatown and became a fixture outside the Chase bank at Doyers Street and the Bowery, where locals would occasionally donate a dollar and some dinner.
Mr. Kwok had no family, so I volunteered to sign the paperwork necessary to claim his remains. The Celestial Love Foundation covered all funeral expenses, except the cost of a grave marker, for which my organization, Chinatown Freemasons Athletic Club, organized a GoFundMe fundraiser. Any leftover monies after cost of the marker will be donated to feed the homeless.
In addition, there is also a memorial candlelight vigil planned in Chatham Square on October 5, by the Kimlau memorial arch, for all four victims (6:30-8:30pm). All are welcome and candles provided.