Days after a man opened fire on an N train in Sunset Park, shooting 10 people, the neighborhood held a pair of events to help unify local residents.
On Saturday, April 16 at 4 p.m., several community leaders and organizations gathered at Sixth Avenue and 44th Street for a day of unity. Then, two days later, on Monday, April 18, a vigil for the subway shooting survivors was held outside the 36th Street station, with flowers placed at the station’s entrance.
“Above all in this moment, we hoped to share a message of love and unity and that shone through this afternoon,” said Councilmember Alexa Aviles (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), at the Saturday event. “Gathering to show our care for one another is just the beginning of how we heal as a community. Violence, and gun violence in particular, are all too common in our city and country today.”
She added that since, in her opinion, gun violence is a public health problem, public health strategies, are needed such as investments in housing, health care and public spaces to address violence.
Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook-northern Bay Ridge) said it was powerful to see community organizations come out for an afternoon of healing and love.
“Tuesday’s tragedy reaffirms everything that we have already known: it is in community, and our love and compassion for one another, that allows for communities to thrive,” she said. “Every member of our society, regardless of their background, deserves the right to health care, housing, education, and everything that makes us whole.”
Then, at the Monday vigil, local Democratic district leader Arieles Martinez said, “We are here today to pray for our victims and thank God that they are still alive.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Pary, thanked the NYPD and the FDNY.
“We continue to pray for the families and everyone associated with the victims and we pray for our community,” she said. “Thank you to the Sunset Park neighborhood for coming together in solidarity to pray.”
Officials, both Democrat and Republican, decried the rise in gun violence in New York City.
Bichotte Hermelyn told the crowd, “As an assemblymember, we’ve been working real hard making sure we pass anti-gun laws that will prevent illegal gun laws coming into our community,”
Karim Elsammak, a Republican candidate for the state Senate in the 22nd District, which includes much of Southern Brooklyn, also spoke.
“The act of terror on our subway system was an attack on all New Yorkers,” he wrote. “We must be loud, clear, and firm on our elected officials when we say restore law and order. These violent criminals don’t see race, religion or political affiliation, they only see hate. We know what we have to do in order to reduce this out-of-control crime spike.”