Prayer vigil for Haiti in Brooklyn

From left Council Member Farah N Louis, Sen. Brian Benjamin, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney General Letitia James.
Office of Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Little Haiti BK, in partnership with the Office the Brooklyn Borough President, Haitian-American community organizations and the National Action Network, held a prayer vigil for Haiti on Sunday at Newkirk Avenue, between Nostrand Avenue and East 29th Street in Brooklyn.

The community-led event provided an outlet for New York-based Haitian-Americans and allies to unite in prayer for the people of Haiti in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Brooklyn is regarded as home to the second-largest population of Haitian-Americans in the United States after Miami.

The people of Haiti have faced heightened political instability, food insecurity and turmoil following Moïse’s assassination on July 7.

Attendees included Rep. Yvette Clarke; New York Attorney General Letitia James; Mayor Bill de Blasio; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; Sen. Brian Benjamin; Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn; Council Members Farah N. Louis and Helen Rosenthal; Democratic nominee for Council District 40 Rita Joseph; and District Leaders Josue Pierre and Edu Hermelyn.

Others were: Eudson Tyson Francois, a member of the Spring Valley Board of Trustees; Sabrina Charles Pierre, Vice-President of the East Ramapo School Board; and prominent Hatian-American community organizations, including Little Haiti BK, Inc. and the Haitian-American Law Enforcement Fraternal Organization (HALEFO).

“We mourn with our Haitian community over the tragic events that have unfolded in Haiti in recent weeks,” Adams said. “Our Haitian community contributes immeasurably to our shared social, economic and civic life in Brooklyn and beyond, and it is critical that we stand in solidarity with them during this difficult time.

“I thank all the Haitian community leaders and community groups who organized this vigil in Brooklyn’s own Little Haiti,” he added.

Rev. Sharpton, civil rights leader and president and founder of National Action Network, who was the keynote speaker, said: “In times of struggle, we all need to support one another.

“The National Action Network stands in solidarity with the Haitian-American community through this tumultuous time, because none of us can thrive until everyone can,” he said. “We are hosting this prayer vigil to stand with our Haitian-American brothers and sisters, shed light on this scourge on Haiti and encourage other communities to get involved in this time of crisis.”

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn addresses prayer vigil. Office of Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Bichotte Hermelyn, the Haitian American chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said: “I want to thank my colleagues for joining me in calling on President Joe Biden to make sure they do not deport Haitians living in the US and that they focus not on international intervention but on humanitarian efforts like providing food, vaccinations and resources to ensure Haiti can move forward graciously with fair and free elections.”

Louis, another daughter of Haitian Americans, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said: “The Haitian-American community in New York City stands in support of Haiti during this difficult and tragic time.

“With so many of our friends and family in Haiti suffering right now, we pray for the nation’s quick recovery and repeat our calls for President Biden and the United States to help in the form of humanitarian aid and additional COVID-19 vaccine doses,” she said, adding that the vigil was “an expression of our deep solidarity with the Haitian people, as well as our hopes and prayers for a better future for them.”

“The people of Haiti need our prayers and support during this difficult time,” said Jackson Rockingster, chair of Little Haiti BK, Inc. and president of the Haitian American Business Network (HABNET).

“In Little Haiti, Brooklyn, the atmosphere is tense with fear for our loved ones abroad,” he said. “Everyone here knows someone in Haiti who is struggling through these tumultuous times. The vigil was a way for us to express solidarity for the people of Haiti and come together with our neighbors to pray for stability in Haiti and hope for the nation’s future.”

Organizations sponsoring and supporting the event included: Association des Ingénieurs Haïtiens et Américains (ADIHA); Association Médicale Haïtiennes à L’etranger (AMHE); CUNY Haitian Studies Institute; Diaspora Community Services; Foundation for the Emancipation of Women and Girls; FS Nostrand Merchant Association; Haitian-American Alliance of New York, Inc. (HAA); Haitian American Business Network (HABNET); Haitian American Caucus (HAC); Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (HALANY); and Haitian-American Law Enforcement Fraternal Organization (HALEFO).

Others were: Haitian-American Nurses Association of Greater New York; Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP); Haitian Clergy Association; Haitian-American Community Coalition (HCC); Haitian Round Table (HRT); Le MoJo Show; Life of Hope (LOH); Little Haiti BK, Inc.’ National Action Network; National Action Network Youth Huddle; Society of Haitian Administrators and Supervisors; and Society for Haitian Research (SHR).