During a time of violence around the country, Brooklyn came together to mourn and heal.
Following the mass shooting in Dallas that killed five police officers and injured nine on Thursday, July 7 and the fatal shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana by police officers, Brooklynites joined Borough President Eric Adams, NYPD, the Diocese of Brooklyn and members of the faith community at the Grand Army Plaza on Monday, July 11 for a candlelight vigil to honor recent victims of violence nationwide.
Adams, who was an NYPD officer for 22 years, discussed the pain endured by families following the recent violence. “The bad guys want us to be divided from the good people of this city. We need the police and the police need the people of this city, and we shall let nothing get in the way of that happening,” he said. “When five officers were assassinated in Dallas, the physical bullet stopped when it hit their body, but the emotional bullet has ripped through the anatomy of our country.”
Adams also recalled his past, serving in the NYPD. “I wore a bulletproof vest and I stood on these street corners protecting the children and families of this city and I know what it is to leave your home with the uncertainty of returning, not only as a police officer but as a young man who may be a victim of any over-aggressive policing,” he said. “We must send a strong signal that the pathway of hate, the pathway of despair, harming innocent people whether they wear a blue uniform, blue jeans or a blue suit, is not acceptable in America. A mother does not mourn differently if her child was killed by someone in law enforcement or someone on the street corner.”
The Reverend Alphonso R. Bernard, Sr., the pastor of the Christian Cultural Center, also spoke at the vigil. “There are no winners in these things. We are all victims,” he said. “Whether police are victimizing citizens or citizens are victimizing police, we dare not paint entire law enforcement with a broad stroke brush because of the actions of the few. It’s going to take more than one individual or organization to change this narrative in America.”
“This was a difficult week for our country,” added Public Advocate Letitia James, “one in which hate and anger took the lives of innocents and plunged our entire country into sadness and more anger. But standing with you all here this evening and gathering in the light, I am now consoled that we have come together. We honor those that have been senselessly slain not by mourning and passivity, but by being makers of our future, one in which unity isn’t an idea but a reality for all of us.”
“I want to shake your hand. I want to learn from you so I can be a better man and I could ensure that all of us can say this is the era that we brought people together and did not divide them,” Adams said of the families of the victims. “We can do that in the borough of Brooklyn.”