NCAVP mourns the death of Massiah Berkley, a 20-year-old Black queer man in Far Rockaway, NY

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NCAVP mourns the death of Massiah Berkley, a 20-year-old Black queer man who was fatally stabbed in Far Rockaway, NY over Labor Day weekend. His attacker is currently being charged for murder as a hate crime – reports reveal Massiah’s assailant called him a homophobic slur which prompted the altercation.

Massiah was a muralist, and worked with Groundswell, an arts-based nonprofit organization that motivates young community members to use art as a way to beautify their surroundings. One of his mural’s is prominently displayed on a vacant building on the corner of Pitkin Ave. and Strauss St.

Massiah’s family is greatly mourning his loss, which comes exactly a year and a day after his father died due to a heart attack. A Brooklyn resident, the reason Massiah was in Far Rockaway was to assist his cousin’s mother who was sick – “Massiah was a sweetheart. He helped everybody. That’s why he was in Far Rockaway, so he could help (his cousin) take care of her mother, because her mother was in a nursing home,” his mother, Kim Berkley said. “That’s what he do, he help everybody. But nobody was there to help him.”

“(He) always wanting to be a part of the solution,” says Berkley’s cousin. “He was a strong young man to have survived this community.”

On Instagram, someone who knew Massiah posted a video of one of his mural’s, paying tribute to his legacy. “he was a king, he was a good man S.i.p” writes the photographer and artist, Keez.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.