August 5, 2023
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. I’m going to say good afternoon, but in fact, there’s nothing good about the reason that we are gathered here, to just express our heartfelt condolences to the O’Shae’s family. 28-year-old young man, he could be my son. And oftentimes when you have incidents like this, you reflect outside of your professional status and move to your personal status. Parents lost a child, a child to something clearly that was a hate crime. And I want to thank the New York City Police Department, Chief Kenny, who’s here, will give an overview of the apprehension of the perpetrator involved. And it should be important to point out that that apprehension took place because every day New Yorkers contributed basic information we needed to identify and to apprehend. And the issue itself made an attempt to give the impression that it came from hate from the Muslim community towards the LGBTQ+ community, that was in fact not true.
These are both important communities in the City of New York. They contribute to the community. Both communities I have worked with on so many occasions, and both are against any level of hate, and both communities have been victimized by Islamophobia, anti-gay and other forms of hates. Their voices have been loud and clear that they stand united against fighting any form of hate in this city. Young O’Shae was a dancer dancing to one of our iconic artists, Beyonce, just enjoying what every day New Yorkers do, coming to the city to really enjoy the freedom of expressing himself the way New Yorkers are allowed to do.
Our message today, to both the Muslim community and the LGBT+ community, as well as all others. This is a city where you are free to express yourself and that expression should never end with any form of violence. And the police department took this case as seriously as any other case, but to make sure we can bring the perpetrator to justice, and yes, it was announced yesterday that we apprehended the suspect. And I’m going to now turn it over to Chief Kenny to go over the preliminary information before introducing two representative leaders in both the LGBTQ+ community and the Muslim community. Chief.
Assistant Chief Joe Kenny, Detective Bureau, Police Department: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon. I’m Assistant Chief Joe Kenny from the Detective Bureau. On Saturday, July 29th, at approximately 11:15 p.m., 70 Precinct patrol officers were directed to the vicinity of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue P for multiple 911 calls reporting that a man had been stabbed at this location. Upon arriving at the scene, the officers encountered a male laying on the sidewalk behind you. He was suffering from a single stab wound to the left side of his rib cage. The victim was identified as Mr. O’Shae Sibley, male, Black, 28 years old, currently residing in Brooklyn. He was transferred to Maimonides Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 12:33 in the morning. Detectives from the 70 Precinct Detective Squad and Brooklyn South Homicide Squad immediately responded to the scene. A witness and video canvas quickly yielded positive results. Recovered video showed that the victim and his friends being confronted by a group of males and being harassed.
We can see on the video a heated verbal dispute quickly turns physical. This results in Mr. Sibley being stabbed one time causing his death. Mr. Sibley was traveling back home from New Jersey with four other male friends when they stopped for gas at this mobile gas station. As they waited to refuel their vehicle, Mr. Sibley and his group began dancing to music that was being played in their car. At this point, a male called out to Mr. Sibley and his group demanding that they stopped dancing. Others joined this male. As the group began to yell at Mr. Sibley and his friends, they began to call him derogatory names and use homophobic slurs against him. They also made anti-Black statements, all while demanding that they simply stop dancing. This encounter lasts for approximately four minutes.
When the victim and the known perpetrator come together, this perpetrator retreats away from Mr. Sibley while striking him one time with a sharp object piercing his chest and damaging his heart. Mr. Sibley falls to the sidewalk while the perpetrator flees the scene in a Toyota Highlander. Detectives were able to quickly identify the suspect of this crime with the assistance of other city agencies, the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit, the School Safety Division, Field Intelligence Officers, and our partners at the Kings County District Attorney’s office. The suspect is identified as a male, 17 years of age, he resides in Brooklyn and he attends a nearby high school. Members of the NYPD Fugitive Enforcement Unit and the US Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force were assigned with the task of locating and apprehending this individual. Their efforts led to his apprehension yesterday. He has been charged with murder too, and that is being charged as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. He has been remanded. Now I’d like to introduce Lee Soldier Simmons.
Lee Soldier Simmons, Executive Director, NYC Center for Black Pride: Hello, everyone. Lee Soldier Simmons, I’m the executive director of the NYC Center for Black Pride. And on this day, which is exactly two weeks before actually Black Pride is going to be beginning here in New York, I met him, O’Shae, actually as a performer, as a dancer, performing for me in an off-Broadway show for Black Pride. The young man I met in 2017, so this is about six years ago, amazing dancer, he’s also part of what we know as the house and ballroom community, and he’s part of the House of Du’Mure-Versailles. And I wanted to speak that because oftentimes, especially within the LGBT community, it’s not necessarily always our birth families, it’s our chosen families that are there that support him. And some of the youth that was here with him and dancing with him were his brothers and sisters that were part of that ballroom community. So I wanted to make sure that I uplifted that, that we support each other. It’s very sad that he as being the talent that he was and coming from Philadelphia, he was never able to reach his full potential.
The saddest thing about it is that we wrestle with this death, we wrestle with hate crimes, we wrestle with people within our community constantly facing discrimination, not just because you’re Black, but because you represent LGBT. And the fact that he was doing nothing more but voguing and dancing here, he did not deserve to die in that way. So I want to also make a note that as we are sitting here mourning the passing of this talented young man, today we’re also mourning the passing of the Paris Is Burning icon Carmen Xtravaganza, she also passed away. I’m going to now pass it over to Ms. Ali.
Soniya Ali, Executive Director, Muslim Community Center: Assalamu alaikum. Peace and blessings on you all. My name is Soniya Ali, I’m the executive director of Muslim Community Center. Today we stand at the very spot where life was tragically unjustly taken just a week ago. The weight of this loss is felt deeply, not just by the family and friends of O’Shae, but by all of us who value life, peace, and justice. At the gates of Harvard Law School, there’s a verse from the Quran inscribed that reads, “Oh you who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin. Whether it be against rich or poor. For God can best protect both.”
This verse serves as a testament to the universal value of justice, a principle that is deeply embedded in the teachings of Islam. As Muslims, we believe that justice is one of the most valuable traits one can possess. The sanctity of life is paramount, and the Quran states in chapter five, verse 32, “Whoever kills a soul unjustly, it is as though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saved a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” The tragic death of O’Shae is a stark reminder of the former. As Muslims, we are commanded to stand up for justice even if it means standing against our own selves. We unequivocally condemned the unjust murder of O’Shae.
Such acts are amongst the greatest forms of injustice one can commit. As we stand united against violence, we also stand together in the pursuit of peace and harmony. As we reflect on our shared commitment to justice, a verse from the Quran resonates deeply, “Indeed God commands justice, good conduct and providing for relatives. And he forbids wickedness, wrongdoing and oppression. He admonishes you so perhaps you will be mindful.” This verse served as a universal call to action emphasizing the importance of justice, goodness, and kinship. May we all be inspired by these words and work collectively towards a world filled with justice, peace, and understanding. Thank you.
Question: For the detective, is there any evidence that you uncovered that you can share that led you to believe that this was a hate crime?
Assistant Chief Kenny: Just based on the statements of the group in general, we have a lot of anti-gay statements and a lot of derogatory statements being made anti-Black, from the group and from the defendant himself.
Question: Is anyone else going to be charged? Is anyone else going to be included in this case? Because obviously there was a group of people that were there that night. Can you speak out regarding that?
Assistant Chief Kenny: As of right now, the defendant’s going to be charged solely. Based on our investigation the group dissipates. We had a lot of members from the community out here acting as peacemakers. The group did start to disappear. The defendant stayed unfortunately and stabbed the victim.
Question: Any word on did he surrender, turned himself in or how everything was brought together?
Assistant Chief Kenny: The Regional Fugitives Task Force was aggressively hunting and investigating this case, numerous contact with family members, numerous contacts with people that were familiar with him, and we arranged his surrender through his attorney.
Mayor Adams: I just want to respond also to turning themselves in. When the community, the agencies and the apparatus is put in place that really corner people in, they traditionally turn themselves in, they turn themselves in. That’s the byproduct of the coordination of the community and our local entities. So it wasn’t as though it was just someone turned themselves in because it was out of the goodness of their heart. It was out of the proper investigation and coordination that led no other thing to do, but to turn yourself in.
Question: We’re talking about the narrative and tension between the Muslim and the LGBT+ communities that we reject. Last night they weren’t talking about that at all. That there was all this talk about, we protect our settlements and also the police terrorized people in the community. And that kept coming up. I just wondered what your message is for the people who [inaudible] here and the dancing felt that way.
Mayor Adams: I’m not sure who said that the police terrorized them.
Question: Last night when many people assembled here, a lot of dancers, a lot of people from the LGBT community, and they were [inaudible] who was not really anything directed, but the Muslim community there was frustration directed, but the boys who here and very kind, so I just wonder…
Mayor Adams: When people are in pain, they express their pain. When you look at the gay officers, actually, when you look at the coordination with all the different entities, people express themselves when they’re in pain. I think the relationship between NYPD and the LGBTQ+ community is a solid relationship. I think that you look at the coordination during pride week, during Black Pride Week, during many of the events that take place, the thoroughness of our investigations. And so I respect when people feel a level of pain and we don’t want… If we find any cases of someone is being harassed, we investigated accordingly and we’re going to continue to do so.
Simmons: Last night was the community’s response to O’Shae being killed here. And the community wanted to come back here to the space to let them know that we’re not going to tolerate that anymore, it’s unacceptable. So you had many people here, you had people from within the ballroom community, they wanted to dance and show solidarity to we are here too, we’re dancing. It was to make a formal statement that the community is united, that we are against the particular racism and discrimination that we face all the time. And we wanted to come together to address that.
Question: Should members of the LGBT community be afraid to do what O’Shae did?
Simmons: I don’t think that any human being should be afraid to live their life and express themselves. However, it is the reality that we do face, we face it every day. We face discrimination. We face laws that are being passed right now. There are how many laws right now that are pending that are anti-LGBTQ, across this country? So young people are definitely going to stand up, it is their job to stand up and say, “We are here, we exist.” This is about their human right, this is about their civil right. And so they came here to say, “We’re here. You’re not going to get rid of us. We’re not going to be afraid. We’re not going to hide in the shadows.”
Question: Mr. Mayor, the fact that this is a 17-year-old, what feeling do you have on that? The fact that this is a very young person.
Mayor Adams: That’s a great question because what you’re seeing that is happening to our youth in this country in general, but specifically here in New York City, is something that we should all be alarmed about. We saw it yesterday down at Union Square. This is not a policing issue, this is a parenting issue and we need to be clear on that. Police is the response after an incident happened, but there should be a proactive approach. When I looked at what happened in Union Square, the first thing I did was text my son and say, “Where are you? Are you in Union Square?” And I wonder, with the thousands of children who were there hurling dangerous objects at police officers, disrespecting the residents in the area, attacking each other, how many parents text their children? And that old commercial that says 10 p.m., do you know who your children are?
How many looked at that and said, “Let me text my son. Let me call my daughter. Are you down there?” And so police is not going to be able to resolve these issues on our own. The great level of restraint we saw yesterday by the New York City Police Department, that could have turned really ugly. And as I monitored and communicated with the on-the-ground teams telling them, “These are young people, we have to be mindful of that as we bring back order.” That’s the same in this incident, 17-year-old, you’re not born with hate. So what are we doing as adults that create this energy of hate? And that energy that’s created, it’s not coming from a community such as the Muslim community that is aware of the hate that they see every day, it’s not coming from the LGBTQ+ community of the hate they experience. So it’s coming from other entities that we need to fight against. And the only way we can win is if we are united in our fight. And that’s why we’re standing here today on the announcement of this apprehension.
Question: Quick question, what’s your message to parents? Clearly, like you said, a 17-year-old, yesterday, chaos erupted, young people. Your message to parents, what would you say to that?
Mayor Adams: It is difficult being a parent now with so much weight and so many obligations they are facing. I know my role with Jordan and the responsibilities that I have of… Our children cannot be raised by social media. Our children cannot get their values, their beliefs from social media and other outside entities. And it’s about being aware that the things that my mother needed to raise me is different from the things that parents need today. Our children are being inundated by influencers, by those who consider themselves to be credible messengers. This young man, yesterday, he had a substantial number of followers. People came from outside of the city to be there. And I want us to… We are further looking into where there’s some even outside agitators. You don’t come to get free Game Boys and bring smoke bombs and bring M80s and bring other disruptive items.
And so, we believe there were some outside influencers that may have attempted to aggravate this situation. And I cannot say enough for the police department yesterday, I don’t think people realized the level of discipline that was showed to take a very dangerous, volatile situation and to be able to bring it to a level of resolve without any loss of life or any substantial damage to property, and without young people harming themselves. And that’s the type of discipline it takes, and the type of dedication that it took to bring this person to justice. We are going to create an environment where this city is safe and one should be allowed to dance, to express themselves, to dress the way they want. This is what I fought for years ago with the Gay Officers Action League and I’m not going to relinquish that fight as the mayor of the City of New York.
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