The week in rewind | Bronx DA, NYPD dismantle alleged trafficking ring, SUNY revokes COVID vaccine mandate and local nonprofit plans for new movie theater – Bronx Times

Every Saturday, The Week in Rewind highlights a selection from The Bronx Times’ wide-ranging editorial work.

Bronx Attorneys, NYPD arrest suspected human trafficking ring at 7 Days Hotel

The Bronx Attorney’s Office and the NYPD announced last Thursday indictments against six people for alleged involvement in a human trafficking ring at the 7 Days Hotel in Unionport.

The investigation, led by an undercover NYPD officer posing as a pimp, found the alleged crimes took place over more than three years — from August 2019 to November 2022. Pimps were allegedly given discounted room rates in exchange for tips for the Hotel employees – who have failed to properly screen traffickers and women’s IDs or report trafficking hotline activity as required by New York State law.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said that according to the investigation, employees at the 7 Days Hotel were allegedly “paid to look the other way” while pimps trafficked 16 girls and young women – seven of them underage – over a period of more than three years were.

Akeem Lee, Marvin Flint, Anthony Reyes, Golam Rabbani, Robert Olaguibel, and Patrick Walker have been charged with a variety of crimes, including corporate corruption, sex trafficking a child, promoting prostitution, rape, intimidating a victim, and falsifying business records. The accused include Lee, Flint and Reyes, alleged pimps, as well as the hotel manager, receptionist and security guard – Olaguibel, Rabbani and Walker.

Nearly 800 units in Amalgamated’s 1,500-apartment system are facing possible gas shutdowns on July 1, and building management can’t afford to pay for maintenance. Photo ET Rodriguez Amalgamated Houses faces $150 million in capital requirements as new Co-op board seeks relief from state

Without intervention, about 827 residents of the country’s oldest affordable housing cooperative, Van Cortlandt Village’s Amalgamated Houses, could face gas shutoffs by July 1. A newly formed board of employees says preventing the looming gas shutdowns is just one item on a laundry list of necessary repairs believed to cost around $150 million for the nearly century-old co-op.

The board of the cooperation partners, known as Amalgamated Cooperators United (ACU), cites a long-standing financial crisis and a looming loss of its insurance coverage if it fails to make a $400,000 down payment on June 1. Amalgamated’s monthly operating reserves in any given month are less than $200,000, according to Robert Scott, an Amalgamated employee and a member of the cooperative’s new board of directors.

During a board meeting on Feb. 15, the board drew a financial picture that included cash and reserves of just $176,076. Amalgamated also owes approximately $1.5 million in payments to previous vendors.

Students exit Manhattan College in Riverdale on Thursday, February 2, 2023. Effective May 20, 2023, Manhattan College will no longer require COVID-19 vaccinations. Photo Camille Botello SUNY drops COVID vaccine mandate, symbolizing the beginning of the end of the pandemic

The State University of New York (SUNY) system announced Tuesday that it would lift its COVID-19 vaccine mandates this summer, signaling a fresh start for college students in the Bronx and across the state in a post-pandemic world .

The system will continue to encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID and will continue to monitor COVID data and update requirements in response to changes in conditions or changes in state, federal or local guidelines.

The pandemic drastically disrupted America’s education system in 2020 and 2021 – sending many kids home for distance learning. And for college students, many have had to make their most productive early adult transitions entirely online.

Despite the new SUNY policy, however, some City University of New York institutions, community colleges and private schools in the Bronx are maintaining their vaccination policies.

As of Tuesday, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Lehman College, Mercy College, Hostos Community College and Bronx Community College still required students to be fully vaccinated against COVID.

There are only two movie theaters in the Bronx. A local non-profit organization is doing something about it.

When the Bronx Times wrote, “There are only two movie theaters left in the Bronx. Does anyone care?” it evoked a lot of reactions from readers.

“It’s a little early to tell, but not all Bronxists are taking it. Expect positive news soon,” wrote Ian Keldoulis — board member for the nonprofit Bronx Independent Cinema Center (BICC) — in an Instagram post about the article.

BICC then announced in an April 4 press release its intention to reopen the landmark Loew’s Paradise Theater at 2417 Grand Concourse, near Fordham Road. The historic theatre, which first opened its doors in 1929, was not used as a cinema for decades and has taken shape over the years as a music venue, entertainment venue and even a church. Today it stands empty, but in the second step of its four-stage plan, BICC wants to raise $3 million to buy the theater outright by 2025.

The plan is to create a space for like-minded people to do with film and filmmaking. A place where Bronxists can call their own instead of being forced to visit Film Forum, Angelika, IFC or the New York Film Academy – all art house cinemas south of 14th Street in Manhattan. The only remaining commercial cinemas in the Bronx are AMC Bay Plaza Theater 13 and Concourse Plaza Multiplex Cinemas at 161st Street.

For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.