West Side Rag’ Mourning Michelle; “I went to the wake because Ms. Go was an Upper West Sider and I am an Upper West Sider”


Posted on January 19, 2022 at 10:35 a.m. by West Side Rag

Times Square billboard. All photographs of Peggy Taylor (except the one she is in, taken by an unknown person.)

By Peggy Taylor

Usually, Times Square’s iconic red glass staircase is the site of carefree tourists posing for selfies or Broadway theaters hosting concerts to mark their comeback. But last night, a cold January night, the Red Steps became the site of an emotional candlelight vigil where three hundred New Yorkers gathered to honor Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed to her death in front of an R train oncoming last Saturday morning.

Ms Go was standing on the Times Square platform of the R and W subway lines, when Simon Martial, 61, pushed her for no reason onto the tracks in front of an oncoming R train. Martial, schizophrenic and with a long history of arrest, turned himself in and said he killed Go because he was God.

“Three hundred New Yorkers came together to honor Michelle Alyssa Go.”

Friends, government officials and New Yorkers like me who didn’t know Michelle gathered at Red Steps to mourn her death and seek some solace in being together. We didn’t know her, but felt we did, as her broad, bright smile beamed at us from a billboard (above) created and paid for by some of her friends.

I went to the wake because Mrs. Go was from the Upper West Sider and I’m from the Upper West Sider. I went there because the platform where she stood while waiting for the R train was a platform where I often stood. I went there because she took a train that I often take. I went there because, if I had been on this platform last Saturday morning, Mr. Martial could have pushed me.

Ms. Go, a senior executive at Deloitte Consulting, and a California transplant, was ironically an advocate for the homeless. She volunteered enthusiastically and spent years working with the New York Junior League, which helps struggling New Yorkers stay on their feet.

Friends spoke of his generosity and choked back tears as they read their tributes on their iPhones. “She loved New York. We would talk about it in the pandemic that we would rather be anywhere else. She loved Central Park. She loved living on the Upper West Side,” said Kim Garnett, one of Go’s friends and colleagues at Deloitte.

The family released this statement: “We are in shock and mourn the loss of our daughter, sister and friend. We hope Michelle will be remembered for how she lived and not just how she died. She was a beautiful, bright, kind, intelligent woman who loved her family and friends, enjoyed traveling the world and helping others. Her life was taken too soon in a senseless act of violence, and we pray that she gets the justice she deserves. Thank you for your condolences.”

The author next to the makeshift memorial.

Unidentified people left bouquets of flowers at a makeshift memorial, which featured two portraits with her smile as bright as Times Square billboards.

Public officials, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, the Mayor, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, City Comptroller, City Council President, Public Advocate, along with a written message from Senator Chuck Schumer, explained how the town had let Michelle down and how it owed to her memory to provide more services to the mentally ill.

Asians Fighting Injustice founder and vigil host Ben Wei took city officials to task and said their words would remain meaningless if the Asian community saw no significant reduction in anti-Asian crimes. [The memorial was organized by the Asian Hate Crimes Task Force, although it is not clear that the attack on Ms. Go was a hate crime since the perpetrator accosted a non-Asian woman, Maria Coste-Weber, before attacking Ms. Go.]

Guardian Angels, led by founder Curtis Sliwa, were there to provide hand warmers and security. I spoke with an Asian cyclist who actually lives in my building, but wanted to remain unidentified. She said she always rode a bike and carried pepper spray, because she was too scared to take the subway.

Among the most influential speakers was Alice Tsui, community activist and leader of the #StopAsianHateMovement. Also a pianist, music teacher and poet, she shook us deeply with her passionate poem, “We are Golden”.

After two hours, the vigil ended and we dissolved, uplifted even as we clung to our grief. We left the red steps and headed for the subway, some for the Times Square station, others, like me, for the 50th Street station on the number 1 line. Crossing 47th Street, I saw the 47th Street station on the R line.

How I wish that last Saturday morning Michelle Go had boarded the train there.


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