residents and community activists assembled in Bushwick Sunday afternoon
for a vigil in memory of Jose Sucuzhanay, a victim of an anti-Latino and
anti-gay hate crime that occurred on Bushwick
Avenue the previous weekend.
in the triangular Make the Road New
Grove Park (Myrtle Avenue and Grove Street), they listened to dozens of elected officials and
community leaders at the hate crime vigil.
Many elected officials denounced the crime while simultaneously praising
the efforts of the community to seek unity and justice in Sucuzahanay’s name.
standing here today is an incredibly powerful statement," City Council Speaker
Christine Quinn said. "We are not going
to live in fear or go back into the closet.
This isn’t the first individual lost to hate but if we continue to stand
here today, I honestly believe this will be the last one we lose in this city."
between chants of "Justice!" and "Yes We Can" in Spanish, Rep. Nydia Velazquez,
in whose district the crime occurred, urged those assembled to find empathy in
the Sucuzhanany family’s pain for their loss and come together to dispel
inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.
New Yorker, government official, and personalities in the media, words have
meaning and they have consequences," Velazquez said. "Treating immigrants like criminals sends the
message of dehumanizing them."
County District Attorney Charles Hynes brought several attorneys in his civil
rights division to the vigil and stated that the Sucuzhanay brothers’ attack is
the most important case his office is investigating.
who committed these acts the message is very clear. You’re going to be caught. You’re going to be convicted, and you’re
going to jail for the rest of your life," said District Attorney Hynes.
was organized by Make the Road New York and its new GLOBE
project, a group dedicated to empowering Bushwick’s LGBT community, with dozens
of other human rights organizations from throughout the city. Local groups such as New Kings Democrats,
Bushwick (AIB), the North Brooklyn Residents’ Association joined the
NAACP, the New York Immigrants Coalition, the New York Civil Liberties Union,
the National Congress for Puerto Rican Groups, and others who marched through
the streets of Bushwick to the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place
where they laid flowers in memory of Jose.
there was some tension among Latino groups about working with LGBT groups prior
to the vigil, any issues appeared to dissolve at the vigil as all community
leaders promised to work in solidarity to eliminate hate crimes against any
community in Brooklyn.
"A lot of
the Latino leaders are saying they support the LGBT community, which I hadn’t
heard before," Karina Claudio, an MRNY organizer and director of the GLOBE project, said. "We support them and they support us as well
because ultimately this is a human rights issue and we all have to work
police continue to investigate the attack against the two brothers, community
leaders will be planning other events and demonstrations against hate
crime. Claudio said MRNY will be working with the New York
Immigrants Coalition on the Dignity for All Schools Act, which gives school
principals authority to report hate crimes in school. Other community representatives were planning
marches on January 10 to raise public awareness about immigration issues.
Bushwick and Williamsburg
communities are still shaken about the vicious attack with emotions at the
vigil still very raw. For Laura Braslow,
Operations Director of AIB and a member of Community Board 4, those feelings
were tempered by the presence of so many residents at the demonstration.
really excited to see all people from different walks of life to come out in
solidarity for this horrible crime," Braslow said.