On its first night, the organizers of the Democratic National Convention sought to hit emotionally resonant notes with choreographed patriotic songs and, more seriously, interviews with victims of and experts on racial violence. But after a string of politicians and experts condemned the president and spoke to the ills of a divided country, one of the night’s most powerful moments came when a regular citizen showed up to talk about the coronavirus pandemic.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to the nation’s failures on the pandemic, the video cut to a woman named Kristin Urquiza, giving a direct address to the camera from her home. Urquiza gained sudden national prominence when she penned an obituary for her father, who died from COVID-19 on June 30. Mark Anthony Urquiza had fallen ill after going to a karaoke bar with his friends when the stay-at-home order was lifted in Arizona. In her father’s obituary, Urquiza expressed anger with her grief. And on Monday night, almost immediately, she launched into where she placed the blame for her father’s death:
My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today, but he isn’t. He had faith in Donald Trump. He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear; that it was OK to end social distancing rules before it was safe; and that if you had no underlying health conditions, you’d probably be fine.
The words echoed those in the obituary: “His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” she wrote. In interviews in the weeks afterward, she made it clear that she placed the blame on Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. On the same day as her father’s funeral, she set up an ofrenda outside the Arizona Capitol with a call for people to add photos of loved ones they lost to the disease.
On Monday, Urquiza again described her father’s quick decline after falling ill, saying he died “alone in the ICU with a nurse holding his hand.” She continued: “My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life.”
During the video, her words were illustrated by happy family photos, followed by photos of her at her father’s grave. “The coronavirus has made it clear that there are two Americas: the America that Donald Trump lives in and the America that my father died in,” she said.
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