Hundreds of Kings County residents gathered with pols, police, and religious leaders in Grand Army Plaza on Monday for a candlelight vigil to pray for shooting victims around the country last week.
Speakers mourned the black men shot by police in Louisiana and Minnesota as well as the five officers killed by a gunman in Dallas, condemning both and emphasizing a message of peace and unity for all.
“We must send a strong signal that the pathway of hate, the pathway of despair, the pathway of harming innocent people — if they wear a blue uniform, blue jeans, or a blue suit — is not tolerated in this country called America,” said Borough President Adams, who helped organize the event. “That’s what this moment is about — that innocent people should not lose their lives prematurely.”
As both a black man and a former police officer, Adams said he understood the fear and pain that both communities are enduring.
“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 the victim of any overaggressive policing,” he said.
Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders led the crowd in prayers and songs from their various faiths, and delivered stirring sermons calling for harmony and mutual respect.
“We the decent need to stand against the indecent of all communities — respect for the law applies to those who wear the badge and those who face the badge,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasni. “We the decent will continue to fight for a dream — a dream when all people will know the meaning of salam, the meaning shalom, and the meaning of peace.”
But at least one attendee felt the event gave more emphasis to honoring the men in uniform slain last week than the men of color, which she said shows just how far society has to go before peace is a real possibility.
“Race is still an issue in this country and it was clear race was still an issue at that vigil, because it wasn’t really talked about,” said 24-year-old Krystal Folk, who traveled from Mill Basin to attend the vigil.