Sunnyside looks for gay activist’s killers

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) and Sunnyside Danyal Lawson (r.) prepare to pass out fliers showing sketches of the men who may have killed Lawson's husband, Lou Rispoli. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), along with the husband and friends of a Sunnyside man who was fatally beaten in October, distributed fliers at three subway stops Tuesday alerting the neighborhood to new police sketches of the man’s murderers.

“We haven’t given up, we will never give up in trying to find the men who took Lou Rispoli’s life,” Van Bramer said.

Rispoli, a 62-year-old activist, was last seen by an unnamed witness Oct. 20 walking with two men on 43rd Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets, not far from where he lived, while another man waited in a car nearby. The men then hit Rispoli over the head and fled in the getaway car. Rispoli was placed in hospice care due to the severity of his injuries and died Oct. 26.

The NYPD released new sketches Friday of the suspects who assaulted Rispoli. Van Bramer distributed fliers with the pictures at the 40th Street-Lowery Street, 46th Street-Bliss Street and 52nd Street No. 7 train stations during rush hour.

He was joined by Danayal Lawson, Rispoli’s husband and 31-year partner.

“It’s senseless and just a really horrible thing,” Lawson said. “This person was taken from a lot of people and there’s a lot of sorrow out here.”

Lawson said he was not looking for revenge in catching the killers, but for closure. He described the last few months as “very difficult.”

“It’s much harder now than three months ago,” Lawson said, “just the reality of it.”

Little is known about the men who attacked Rispoli or their motives. Van Bramer said the attack cannot be definitively ruled a hate crime or not.

“I have been very frustrated by the lack of progress over the last few months,” he said.

The councilman said he has been in constant talks with Capt. Donald Powers, commander of the 108th Precinct, about the crime. He said while mistakes were made in the early period after the crime, with the police slow to open an investigation into the incident, Van Bramer said he does not believe the mistakes were deliberate.

The NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office and CrimeStoppers are collectively offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the suspects’ capture.

“Our community is united in making sure the killer is brought to justice,” Van Bramer said.

Those with information should contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-577-TIPS, via the Crime Stoppers website at or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 9:02 pm, January 31, 2013
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