Linden Boulevard at Eldert Lane in East New York is now referred to as “Akai Gurley Way.”Photograph by Ben Brachfeld
A portion of Linden Boulevard in East New York close to NYCHA’s Pink Homes was co-named Saturday for former resident Akai Gurley, who was fatally shot by an NYPD officer within the building’s stairwell in November 2014.
Where Linden Boulevard meets Eldert Lane will now be referred to as “Akai Gurley Way,” after an unveiling ceremony held seven years to the day after his killing, attended by electeds, supporters, and members of Gurley’s household.
“In some small way we’re gonna get something,” mentioned Hertencia Petersen, Gurley’s aunt, who has advocated for justice in Gurley’s case for years. “I’m so elated and overwhelmed that the community came out.”
These current on the ceremony mentioned that the street co-naming was a small, belated victory for the Gurley household, as the placement will now be etched into the geography of town because the place where Gurley was killed by police.
“It’s a day that we can temporarily be happy,” mentioned Andre Mitchell, chair of Group Board 5, on the ceremony. “Because this block, for the record, will be here now forever. You don’t even have to call it Linden Boulevard on this corner, you’ll be able to call it Akai Gurley Way for the rest of history in this city and this neighborhood.”
However on the finish of the day, attendees mentioned they will not really feel that their work is over till Black males usually are not focused and killed by police.
“Every day that there’s a Black, brown, purple, or any color person is getting murdered, nothing has changed,” Petersen mentioned. “That’s just telling us that we have to strap our boots up a little tighter so we can be back in the streets.”
Gurley was 28 years previous and residing at Pink Homes when he was fatally shot  by NYPD Officer Peter Liang in a darkish stairwell whereas the officer was conducting a “vertical patrol” on the public housing complicated. On Nov. 20, 2014, Liang fired basically blindly into the darkish stairwell as Gurley entered a ground under to stroll downstairs, and the bullet ricocheted and hit Gurley. Liang then allegedly didn’t render help, in keeping with Gurley’s girlfriend.
The incident turned a flashpoint within the metropolis, happening simply months after the homicide of Eric Garner, and weeks earlier than a grand jury’s determination to not indict his killer, Officer Daniel Pantaleo, set off protests throughout town.
Then-Brooklyn District Lawyer Ken Thompson, who was elected to the workplace as a progressive reformer intent on reining in police abuse, sought and gained an indictment on manslaughter fees towards Liang. In February 2016, a jury convicted Liang of manslaughter , in what was extensively seen as a defining second for police accountability.
However Gurley’s household and supporters argue that Thompson then betrayed them as he didn’t search jail time  for the convicted officer. At sentencing, a choose lowered Liang’s high sentence to negligent murder, and sentenced him to probation and group service .
“A conviction is what we got,” mentioned Mitchell. “But for us here, in East New York, we still know that justice was still not served.”
Gurley was the daddy of a 2-year-old toddler, Akaila, when he was killed. Akaila, now a 9-year-old elementary schooler, was introduced with a street signal of her personal, as a token of remembrance and commemoration for the daddy she by no means actually knew.
“I’ve been thinking about my dad,” Akaila informed the gang. “I don’t know very much about him, but he’s important to me. And I want to take a moment today so I can celebrate my dad.”
Petersen mentioned that seeing Akaila get to have fun her father was a “priceless” second, and vital for her to grasp who her dad actually was.
“At two years old, you lost your father, you don’t know him, you don’t have a relationship with him. You only hear what people say or what you read,” Petersen informed Brooklyn Paper. “It was priceless that for her legacy, that she knows her father was not who he was portrayed as. What the public, the media portrayed him to be. She knows who he was.”
Thompson died of most cancers just a few months later in 2016, and just lately acquired a street co-named in his honor  close to the District Lawyer’s workplace in downtown Brooklyn. However Petersen believes he isn’t worthy of any honor on account of his selections within the case.
“Akai Gurley’s blood is still on his hands,” she mentioned. “Even beyond the grave.”