‘Asking for unity’: Bed-Stuy residents band together for justice at vigil for slain baby

Community members embrace at a July 14 vigil for one-year-old Davell Gardner in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

More than 100 Brooklynites came together Tuesday evening in remembrance of Davell Gardner, the one-year-old boy who was fatally shot during a family barbecue in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sunday.

A vigil for the infant was held at around 5 pm on July 14 at the corner of Madison Street and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, not far from the scene of the shooting, which also wounded three men.

The July 12 shooting came on the same night as 11 shootings across the borough, and just one night before a drive-by shooting in Canarsie that left six people shot in just 14 minutes. Brooklyn has been rocked with repeated gun violence in recent weeks.

“I am asking for unity,” said local resident Robin Lyve, who lost her son to gun violence in September 2005. “We will weed out the civilians who feel the need to kill a one-year-old.”

A memorial set up for Davell Gardner.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Bed-Stuy native and pastor Annette Robinson echoed Lyve’s calls for unity.

“We can’t allow for gun violence to continue,” she said. “We must allow love to fight through the gun violence.”

City Councilman Robert Cornegy, who represents the area, pointed the finger at society.

“This society allowed someone to load bullets into that gun. If you know something, please say something,” he pleaded.

On Monday, Borough President Eric Adams joined violence interruption group My Brother’s Keeper in offering a cash reward for information on the shooting. The beep also joined Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in calling for structural change following the tragedy.

Adams and Jumaane agreed that — while the NYPD must be reformed — law enforcement must play a direct role in stopping gun violence within the communities they serve.

“If you think law enforcement and police have no part to play, you are wrong,” Williams said. “They have a part to play and many of us are going to do our part to make sure that part is done with equity and justice.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Brooklyn community activist Tony Herbert amplified local lawmakers’ call for change, but said it needs to come, largely, from the local level.

“We have to do something as a community about this gun violence,” he said. “These guns need to be off the street.”

Tony Herbert and members of the community rally against gun violence.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Sunday’s shooting in particular was “completely unacceptable,” the local activist said.

“This blood is on the mayor’s hands. Every night there is bloodshed due to gun violence in this borough and the Bronx.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a moment of silence for Gardner at his Monday press briefing, adding that he was “heartbroken” over the incident.

“It means the whole community has to be involved,” he said. “It’s never just about police. It has to be community and police together.”

GoFundMe page has been established to support the family, and has already surpassed a $10,000 goal.