Elected officials, community leaders and anti-gun violence advocates spoke out against the Charleston massacre and gun violence in Queens Monday night in front of the Queens Museum.
An interfaith prayer vigil and lighting ceremony honored victims of the massacre as well as other gun violence victims. The front exterior of the museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park was lit orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month. The orange lights have been on every night since and that will continue until June 30.
Public Advocate Letitia James and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown were at the ceremony, as was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz who called the massacre a “senseless act of violence” and said it was clearly an act of racism.
Referring to the motto of the 1964/1965 World’s Fair, “Peace Through Understanding,” Katz urged everyone to speak out and fight against gun violence.
“We want to make sure that we are heard loud and clear that gun violence will not be tolerated,” she said.
In 2013, both houses of the state Legislature unanimously passed a resolution proclaiming June as Gun Violence Awareness Month to raise awareness in the state and promote bipartisan efforts to address the issue.
Erica Ford, founder and CEO of LIFE Camp Inc. in Jamaica, sporting a shirt with the organization’s motto, “Peace Is A Lifestyle,” noted that last year during Memorial Day weekend there were two shootings and four people shot in the 103rd and 113th precinct areas, which covers southeast Queens.
This year the area had no shootings during that time period, which she said was tied to people stepping up to combat gun violence.
“Things like that happen because people come together and they commit to a lifestyle,” Ford said. “People come together and commit to a vision. People come together and are selflessly giving of themselves to do more than just think about themselves.”
Encouraging attendees to repeat his chant, “Enough is enough!,” Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Jamaica said people have to come together to combat the violence.
“We’ve been moving but we need movement, a movement against violence,” Wyatt said.
Pastor Richard Hogan of Divine Deliverance Ministry in Jamaica, father of gun violence victim Laseam Hogan, 27, who was shot and killed in the Pomonok Houses in 2010,, led a prayer.
“Thank you, God,” Hogan said at the vigil. “In the midst of chaos, you are bringing order.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour
©2015 Community News Group
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