Elected officials, community leaders, non-profit organizations and concerned New Yorkers gathered together on Sunday afternoon to speak out against all hate crimes, specifically those surrounding xenophobia and homophobia, in response to the tragic beating of Bushwick resident Jose Sucuzhanay, who was brutally attacked last week, while walking with his brother, by men said to have been shouting anti-Latino and anti-gay epithets. The crowd convened for a vigil, punctuated by an array of speeches, followed by a march to the scene of the crime.
Hundreds of New Yorkers crowded into the tiny garden on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Grove Street in Bushwick, holding signs, flags and banners bearing such messages as, United Against Hate, Homophobia Affects Us All and Bushwick is a Hate-Free Zone.
Karina Claudio, an organizer at Make the Road New York, who was primarily responsible for coordinating the vigil, explained the importance of having so many different types of community organizations represented, ready to put differences aside and fight together against hate.
We decided to call this United Against Hate because we all have different focuses: LGBT rights, Jewish, Muslim, Latino, Claudio said. But were all against hate, and we dont want this happening in Bushwick, or anywhere else in the city.
In addition to the array of organizations in attendance, dozens of elected officials turned out to publicly express their anger, sadness and determination to fight against the hate crimes that have plagued New York City in recent months, including those against Ecuadorians, immigrants, LGBT and all minorities alike.
We stand with the Ecuadorian community, with the Latino community, with the gay and lesbian community. An attack against these groups is an attack against all of us, said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. We are one Brooklyn, we are one New York, and we are one America.
Similarly, Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, emphasized the importance of all communities coming together to condemn hate crimes, and to support one another in the ongoing fight for freedom and human rights.
This is our neighborhood, this is our borough, this is our city and this is our country, Quinn said. They want us to stay in our homes, they want us to go back in the closet, to stop immigrating to this country. But we will not live in fear.
Councilmember Diana Reyna, in whose district the crime took place, implored the crowd to unite against hate and violence in our city, and rally for justice. I am heartbroken about the hate and destruction in our communities, Reyna said. But when you lose someone, I lose someone. Here today, let us rein for justice, not for destruction.
In his remarks, District Attorney Joe Hynes assured the crowd that the hunt for the criminals will not stop until the four murderous thugs are brought to justice.
You are going to be caught, you are going to be convicted and you are going to go to jail for the rest of your life, Hynes said. And the only way youll every get out of prison is in a box!
Among the many elected officials in attendance were Greenpoint/Williamsburgs own Councilmembers David Yassky and Diana Reyna, and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who marched at the front of the crowd, helping to hold the Make the Road banner.
Attendees marched through the streets to Kossuth Place, the scene of the crime, where candles were arranged in a circle around a Gay Pride flag, lying next to an Ecuadorian flag.