Brooklynites mourn death of Bed-Stuy activist Ryan Carson

ryan carson
Carson was a social justice advocate who most recently worked as Senior Solid Waste Campaign Manager at New York Public Interest Research Group
Photo courtesy of GoFundMe

Brooklynites are reeling from the sudden death of advocate and Bed-Stuy resident Ryan Carson. 

Carson was fatally stabbed while waiting at a bus stop on Malcolm X Blvd and Lafayette with his girlfriend, who was not injured, in the early hours of Oct. 2. The police have made no arrests. He was 32 years old. 

Carson was a social justice advocate who most recently worked as Senior Solid Waste Campaign Manager at New York Public Interest Research Group. In 2021, Carson created the No OD NY campaign and lobbied for safe injection sites to combat overdoses. 

A group of over 100 friends and family gathered with candles at Herbert Von King Park to remember him on Monday night. Members of the community took to social media to voice their condolences and honor Carson’s work.

“Ryan’s compassion was evident in everything he did,” said state Sen. Julia Salazar on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I learned a lot from Ryan in a short time. I’m better for having known him, as so many of us are. Let us dedicate ourselves to continuing his life’s work, cut short far too soon: to harm reduction; to humane drug policy; to creating a more caring society for all of us.” 

Friends and colleagues remembered Carson as a dedicated environmental advocate, a “beloved” friend and mentor, and a “tremendous friend.”

carson's glasses on scene of stabbing
Carson’s glasses remained at the scene of the stabbing on Monday morning. File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Several politicians and policymakers familiar with Carson’s work commented on his legacy.

“Ryan was the kindest, funniest, and hardest working man in advocacy,” Brooklyn Assembly Member Emily Gallagher said on X. “He and I bonded because our friends died in the opioid epidemic, & we struggled to make good out of our grief. He put his whole heart into making the world a safer place for all people.”

Gallagher told CBS News, “If you wanted to talk, he was absolutely always ready to talk, always there for you…it’s hard when the person that you go to to talk about grief is the one who died.” 

Carson was a graduate of Pratt Institute and began working at NYPIRG as a student. 

“Ryan was a beloved staffer, colleague and friend, and a creative, talented, relentless and upbeat advocate for students and the environment,” NYPIRG said in a statement. “Ryan was a consummate team player who would happily undertake the basic ‘blocking and tackling’ tasks necessary to advance and win on an issue, but also shined in the spotlight as a leader, campaign manager and spokesperson.”

On Oct. 3, Carson’s friends launched a GoFundMe page to support his partner, Claudia, as well as some of his close friends as they grieved his loss. By the morning of Oct. 4, more than 700 people had already donated $48,162 to the fundraiser, surpassing the $20,000 goal. 

Police are still searching for the man who killed Carson, and asked anyone with information about the suspect to contact the NYPD at 800-577-TIPS.