This afternoon we were among hundreds of New Yorkers who participated in a Bushwick rally and vigil for José Sucuzhañay. By now, most people know the story of his tragic murder in a hate crime, but this is from the AP wire story:
José Sucuzhañay, a 31-year-old real estate broker, was accosted on a Brooklyn street by men who yelled anti-Hispanic and anti-gay slurs at him and his brother, Rommel, early Dec. 7, according to police. The two were walking arm in arm after attending a church party and then stopping at a bar.
Rommel Sucuzhañay was able to get away and call police, but José Sucuzhañay was attacked by three men who smashed a beer bottle over his head, hit him in the head with an aluminum baseball bat and kicked him, police said.
The New York Police Department's hate crime task force is seeking suspects. A police spokesman said Sunday he had no updates.
We took the L train from Williamsburg to Myrtle/Wyckoff and saw several people walking under the M train el along Myrtle with Anti-Violence Project placards. Following them, we ended up at a triangular community park and playground by Grove Street. There were a couple of hundred people already there, many with signs:
¡BUSHWICK ES UNA ZONA LIBRE DE ODIO!
ZERO TOLERANCE 4 HATE
XENOPHOBIA Y HOMOPHOBIA NOS AFFECTA A TODOS
DIGNITY - SAFETY - EQUALITY
DIVERSIDAD Y UNIDAD
WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS
¡UNIDOS CONTRA ODIO!
Many of the signs were from Make the Road New York, a great organization that promoted today's events.
We went to the back of the crowd, near some Korean young people from YKASEC who were holding placards that said STOP ANTI-IMMIGRANT ATTACK, standing near some of the playground apparatus.
We saw people with caps from the NAACP, Jewish War Veterans and other organizations. Many in the crowd were Latino, and nearly all of the speakers, save politicians like Council Speaker Christine Quinn, DA Charles Hynes, Rep. Anthony Weiner and Borough President Marty Markowitz, addressed us in Spanish as well as English.
There was outrage. Every once in a while, someone would shout, "¿De queremos?" and we'd shout back, "¡Justicia!" and they'd ask "¿Cuando?" and we'd shout "¡Ahora!"
Other cries were the old standby "No justice, no peace!" in both languages.
(Photo courtesy of Taylor Siluwe; please go to Taylor's Flickr page for many more pics of the event)
IT COULD HAVE BEEN *ANY* OF US, one sign said.
The mainstream media will, we're sure, cover the speakers, some of whom - like Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, are well-known. We were most moved and impressed with what was said by Alfredo Lopez, our councilmember Diana Reyna, and the representatives from our Ecuadorean and gay communities. There are some wonderful photos of the event at Boy in Bushwick.
It was heartening to see so many stand up against hate and ignorance. It was pretty cold, so we left after about an hour and a half. Coincidentally, as we slowly made our way out of the playground park, we found ourselves standing next to Marty Markowitz, who was telling another politician we recognized only by sight but not by name, "We shouldn't have to be here."
Well, that wasn't quite true. What happened to José Sucuzhañay shouldn't have happened. But since it did, we had to be there today.