New York’s death toll from COVID-19 was still the country’s highest at the start of May. Many hadn’t left their neighborhoods in over a month, and were wearing rubber gloves along with masks to venture out for necessities.
This was the climate in Brooklyn in which Aaron Wiggs and his friends Perry and Sasha were living when the news of George Floyd’s murder broke. It was the straw, or in this case body, that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
As the nation erupted into civil unrests—the likes of which hadn’t been seen in 40 years—Aaron and crew were struggling to come up with a way to contribute in a meaningful way. Over coffee in Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park, they hatched a simple plan that would turn into something much bigger than any of them could imagine—a sidewalk sale with all of the proceeds being donated to social justice causes.
Aaron used his connections through his job at Supreme to round up as much gear as he could, and got some friends in the neighborhood to help build tables. By June, they launched what’s become a neighborhood tradition that attracts people from all five boroughs to congregate in the park; pick up some gear for cheap, and donate to a worthy cause.
The Sidewalk Sale has generated roughly $150,000 and counting thus far; all of which has been given to organizations supporting people of color and the LGBTQ community. It’s one of the more inspirational stories to emerge from the most turbulent summer on record in recent history.
And, in the middle of it all, Aaron was personally touched by the pandemic via the loss of his brother-in-law to the virus a few weeks ago. Tragic twists in triumphant tales typically only happen in the movies. But, unfortunately, this is real life. Lee gets the full story during his most poignant interview yet in Episode 19 of Mission Statement. It captures the vibe of 2020 perfectly.