Assaulted African street vendor Souleymane Porgo still in coma

By Isseu Diouf Campbell

In a video that captured the assault of West African street vendor Souleymane Porgo, you see Porgo collapse and hear the sound of his skull hit very hardly the ground.

Porgo was attacked by a group of men on the corner of 149th Street & 3rd Ave in the Bronx where the African immigrant from Burkina Faso usually sets up his table to earn a living.

The incident occurred on May 2, 2017 in front of his wife and two young daughters.

Three days later, here she was in the lobby of Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, surrounded by members of the community.

He was later rushed to Lincoln Hospital where he underwent surgery but remains unconscious.

A source closed to the family said: “the only thing she is concerned about is her husband’s well being. We pray that he recovers from this assault.”

At the intensive care unit, Souleymane Porgo was laying on his hospital bed surrounded by machines, his chest moving slowly up and down. Balloons reading “get well” were floating attached to a chair on the right side of his bed.

His brother Issa who escorted me to his room whispered, “the doctor said he is doing better than yesterday and the day before.”

Members of the Burkinabe community were coming all day long. Among them the ambassador of Burkina Faso and a group of Burkinabe youth who saw the incident on Facebook and decided to show up at the hospital to express their support.

“More than 200 people came yesterday,” said Porgo’s wife.

Souley Saleh from the same country is also a street vendor located across the street from Souleymane Porgo.

“I saw people gather and the ambulance but never thought it was Souleymane Porgo until his brother called me later in the evening,” said Saleh. There is always something happening on 149th Street & 3rd Ave.”

“His brother told me that they went to the hospital but could not see him,” Saleh added. They were told that Souleymane Porgo needed surgery and were asked two consents because there was a chance that he would not make it.”

“Usually, there are many Burkinabe around his table. It is unfortunate that he was alone that day.”

Samira Zibango, created the only Gofund page approved by Porgo’s family to help his wife and children not knowing if and when Souleymane Porgo will regain consciousness.

“I grew up around him”, said Samira Zibango.

“I used to pass by him every day to go to the academy of public relations. He would give me free books all the time because he knew I loved to read.”

Zibango, who did not want to generalize, says the incident that led to the fracture of Souleymane Porgo’s skull is nothing new. It is the result of a tension between some African-Americans and African immigrants.

“I remember how some black Americans would look down and disrespect my mother when she had her hair salon on 138th St and Willis Ave,’ she said. This is not new. They have been disrespecting us for years.”

Aboubacar Nikiema, a friend of Porgo hopes that the men who assaulted Porgo will be arrested and held accountable.

“Porgo is a good man who helped many Burkinabe citizens and does not deserve to be laying in the hospital in this condition,” said Nikiema who went to pay him a visit at the hospital but did not find the courage to see his friend in such a bad shape.

“I met him in 2007 and his location is a gathering place for many Burkinabe. The African community needs to stand up so this will never happen again.”

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