The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) and our communities are in a compounded state of grief and mourning today. Over the past several days our communities have laid bare their pain and trauma for the world to see in response to the death of O’Shae Sibley. We have witnessed an outpouring of emotion, questions, demands, and truths about the state of our world.
This arrest does not acknowledge the underlying issues of violence that our communities are facing. Additionally, it does not do anything to bring O’Shae Sibley back. And the reality is the accused harm-doer comes from a community that is also often victimized by hate. We must acknowledge too, that this brings grief for another family and communities now wondering what the future looks like for the young person who is accused of committing this terrible act of violence. We cannot let hate in any form win, including Islamophobic hate toward our Muslim siblings who also face identity-based harm and violence. We must look toward solutions that aim at the prevention of these acts and bringing communities together, instead of focusing on the punishment and response.
The arrest of Sibley’s suspected killer brings little joy or solace because there are no winners here. And though we always seek and demand justice and accountability for violence against our communities, we take no pleasure in this announcement because the grief and loss remain, and the crisis of violence generally, and anti-LGBTQ+ violence specifically is still endemic within our society. LGBTQ+ people and spaces are under attack, and people believe that we don’t have the same rights to freedom and independence that others do, because of our identities.
We must honor O’Shae’s memory by working to make this world safer for people like him, and therefore all people. This cannot continue to happen if we care about the safety of our communities. Unity is the key to ending this violence, and we must take steps to build intentional unity across differences as New Yorkers to keep us all safe. We call on communities to standup against homophobia and islamophobia and welcome opportunities to dialogue in the future on ways to keep all of our communities safer. AVP’s hotline is always available for folks if they need support around these events or have experienced or witnessed violence at 212-714-1141.