All New Yorkers have that moment when they look at other New Yorkers and wish they would just…leave. And when Nicolas Briseño learned of separate $20 million lawsuits filed by two women who lived near the site of the March 26 building explosion on Second Avenue, he set to work on making them disappear.
He nearly succeeded.
Like many New Yorkers, Briseño took personal offense to the exploits of Anna Ramotowska, 26, and Lucie Bauermeister, 23, who were subletting an apartment at 129 Second Avenue, just three buildings down from 121 Second Avenue, where the explosion originated. They have since spent much of the past two weeks making enemies with their tone-deaf pleas for sympathy (and money), broadcast on television and in other news and online outlets. After the women sued for damages, claiming they had been “severely injured, both physically and mentally,” they told the Post that they needed “to get out of New York,” and expressed an interest in moving down south.
Briseño took to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.com and launched a campaign to help them do just that. He asked for funds to buy the women “two symbolic one-way tickets out of NYC…in the form of an ad in a yet-to-be-determined NYC/local publication.”
“My initial thought was that if they wanted to leave, they needed a one-way ticket out of here,” Briseño tells the Voice. “But then it didn’t really make any sense to give them anything. So I decided to try for a full-page ad somewhere telling them to get out of town. The whole thing was to get people’s attention and to maybe get them to laugh a bit at the expense of these money-grubbing women and hopefully inspire them to give even five dollars that could go to the real victims.”
He launched the campaign on Tuesday, April 7, to little fanfare, and as of Thursday afternoon had raised just $166. But at 5:04 p.m. Thursday, he received an email from GoFundMe administrators informing him that his campaign was not allowed under the site’s terms and conditions. The admins did not cite a specific reason for the decision. GoFundMe removed the campaign from the website but told Briseño he could keep all of the money that had been donated to that point.
The Voice reached out to GoFundMe to ask why the campaign had been taken down but has not yet received a reply. We will update the post if we do.
Briseño says he has split the donations, giving half each to the families of Moises Locon, who died in the explosion, and Mildred Guy, whose family lost their home. “I really wish I could let the donors know their money did go to the real victims, but I can no longer reach them through GoFundMe,” he says.
While he’s hopeful the donations he received will be able to do some good, he’s less confident that the two “heartless opportunists” seeking to cash in on the tragedy will learn anything as a result of the flogging they’ve taken over the past several days.
“Maybe the dynamic duo will change after a healthy dose of public shaming,” Briseño posted on his Facebook page after GoFundMe nixed his campaign. “But I have my doubts.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 10, 2015