Hundreds turned out for a November 17 vigil to remember Lou Rispoli, including Rispoli’s widowed husband, Danyal Lawson (center),who is joined by friend Mark Horn (left) and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. | JESSE WINTER.
BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Hundreds of Sunnyside and Woodside residents in Queens and representatives of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and Make the Road New York joined Danyal Lawson to march against violence in memory of Lawson’s husband, Lou Rispoli, who was murdered in the early morning hours of October 20. The killing occurred at the corner of 41st Street and 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside.
In his first public statement since Rispoli’s murder, Lawson said, “Lou really loved this neighborhood. We lived here together for 32 years. He loved our building. He loved the shopkeepers and restaurant owners. He was a man with a big heart, and he shared his great heart with everyone. He never felt afraid to walk the streets here. At any time. No one should feel afraid to walk these streets at any time.”
Rispoli and Lawson married on the first day they were legally able to do so in New York State, in July 2011, and their wedding was reported in the New York Daily News the following day. Lawson explained that the marriage merely formalized a longtime sacred union between the two men.
“The papers say we got married last year,” said. “Legally, we’ve been married for one year. But we married each other the first time when we took a trip to Turkey and pledged ourselves to each other in the Topkapi Palace, just us two.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, an out gay Democrat who represents the district and for whom Rispoli volunteered in his 2009 campaign, said, “Our community lost a friend, a family member, and a man who cared deeply about his neighborhood as well as you all. The suspects who did this must be brought to justice, and we cannot rest until they pay the price for taking Lou’s life.”
Rispoli was attacked by three men and died five days later. The suspects, described as white and in their 20s, fled in a gray sports car. There is no information about whether the attack had an anti-gay motivation.
The police department is offering a $22,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killers. The NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline can be reached at 800-577-TIPS, nypdcrimestoppers.com, or via text at 274637 (CRIMES), and then entering TIP577.
PHOTO BY JESSE WINTER