Without thinking about the elderly who rely on oxygen tanks, the laborers who strived to use their last dollars to put food in their refrigerator, Con Edison, one of the largest energy companies in America opted to turn off power for 33,000 customers in primarily Black and brown neighborhoods in southeast Brooklyn on Sunday night. According to CNBC, a total of 52,000 people lost electricity on Sunday.
Amid the sweltering heat, thousands of customers lost power in an attempt by Con Ed to prevent further mass outages. The decision to sever power for the above mentioned communities came without warning and now critics are demanding answers. The neighborhoods affected have remained primarily untouched by the mass entry of gentrifiers who have settled into other parts of Brooklyn such as Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Bushwick and Williamsburg.
Sunday’s power outage also affected areas of Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey, but it was the large swath of Brooklyn (roughly 13,000, according to CNBC) that still remains without power as of Monday afternoon.
Videos showing families sleeping in cars and on their front porches to dodge the heat circulated on social media Sunday night and Monday morning.
After facing criticism over last week’s power outage which struck a significant part of lower Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out on Monday condemning ConEdison for its handling of Sunday’s events, calling for an investigation.
Other local politicians echo De Blasio’s views.
“We need to know how Con Ed is picking winners and losers in this situation,” Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents Brooklyn’s 43rd Council district, said in an interview Gothamist. “We’re never really told why it happens or what needs to be done so it doesn’t happen again. It just keeps happening, and they keep fixing it—like, ‘Okay, see you next July!'”
“We are completely focused on getting customers back in service, and we regret the distress they are under,” Con Ed spokesperson Alfonso Quiroz told the New York Post.
The company still contends that they made the decision in order to prevent further issues. “If we had not acted as we did, more equipment would have been damaged, further delaying and complicating restoration,” Quiroz continued.
But the call over who gets to live and who gets to die reigned louder as those on social media continue to take the energy giant to task over the mistreatment of customers in southeast Brooklyn.