Arlene Harrison - Remarks
Our Gramercy Park Block Association welcomes friends, neighbors, members of our NYPD family, and family members and friends of fallen NYPD Police Officer Anthony Dwyer,
Detective Rafael Ramos, Detective Wenjian Liu, Detective Randolph Holder, Detective Steven McDonald and Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo.
First a thank you to the National Arts Club for helping sponsor this event, and especially John Eramo and Fran Vallone.
I also want to thank NYPD Employee Relations Services Lt Debra Lott and Lt Christopher Pizzo, as well as Sgt. Joey Imperatrice for their work in bringing our NYPD family together this evening.
For more than two decades our community has enjoyed a close partnership with the NYPD. In 1993, my son Tim was brutally beaten by a random roving gang outside our home on Gramercy Park. As a result, the GPBA was organized to protect the safety and security of the neighborhood. Since then, we have worked closely with the NYPD, and this partnership is detailed in our GPBA website's NYPD section. The website address is on the card on your tables, along with Blue Lives Matter bracelets. Please feel free to take one.
During the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, it was our first responders who paid the ultimate sacrifice when they raced into the burning buildings while thousands fled. For many months following 9/11, GPBA's Neighbors Helping Neighbors organized a round-the-clock relief effort at the 13th Precinct, where we served thousands of meals, and distributed critical supplies to emergency units. Since 9/11, the bonds we formed with the NYPD have become permanent and their police family has become our family, not only here, but throughout their department. When they mourn the loss of an NYPD family member in blue, our community family mourns with them. ALL the families of fallen officers have ever asked of us is to NEVER FORGET their loved ones. Sixteen years later, we continue to keep that promise that we made to them in 2001.
In recent years at this annual GPBA event we have remembered NYPD officers who died in the past year, including:
Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, fatally shot December 20, 2014 as they sat inside their patrol car in Bed-Stuy. Rafael Ramos was 40 years old, married with two sons. Wenjian Liu was 32 years old, and had married 2 months earlier. The Ramos and Liu families are with us tonight.
Detective Brian Moore, a second-generation NYPD officer, was murdered May 2, 2015. He was 25 years old.
Det. Randolph Holder, a third-generation Police Officer from Guyana, was fatally shot by an armed robbery suspect in East Harlem on October 20th, 2015. He was 33 years old. The Holder family is with us tonight.
Det. Joseph Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the NYPD, was killed December 21, 2015 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan while serving in the New York Air National Guard. He was 45 years old.
Police Officer David Hofer worked at the 9th Precinct from 2009-2014, when he left to join the Euless, Texas Police Department. He was killed in an ambush on March 1st 2016. He was 29 years old.
Tonight, we are also joined by the family of Police Officer Anthony Dwyer, who was killed October 17, 1989, when he was pushed from a rooftop during a struggle with a robbery suspect. He was 23 years old.
And now sadly, this evening our community and police family join together to honor the memory of two more NYPD Officers we have lost in the past year:
Detective Steven McDonald, a former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman and third generation police officer, was shot July 12, 1986 by a 15-year-old while questioning him about bicycle thefts in Central Park. The shooting left him paralyzed and a quadriplegic, but he went on to became a beloved NYPD icon, a symbol of heroism and forgiveness. Det. McDonald died on January 10, 2017 at the age of 59. The McDonald family is with us tonight.
Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, a very loving husband to his wife Lisa, and father of two young boys, Austin, age 5, and Joseph, age 4. Sgt. Tuozzolo was fatally shot on November 4, 2016 in the Bronx as he approached an ex-con cowering in a crashed Jeep Cherokee. He was 41 years old. The Tuozzolo family is with us tonight.
Following the killings of officers Ramos and Liu, we continued our mission to remember fallen officers of the NYPD. Knowing this, my dear friend, retired Homicide Detective Sgt. Sharon Brooks introduced me to 1st Precinct Detective Sgt. Joey Imperatrice, who founded Blue Lives Matter NYC, a non-profit organization formed by a group of law enforcement officers. It has now become a nationwide movement to offer comfort and support to Law Enforcement Officers and their families during their times of need.
When I learned about the incredible work of Sgt. Imperatrice and Blue Lives Matter, I began organizing law enforcement groups from around the country in order to spread the word about their work through social media. My other mission was to post information about law enforcement who have died due to 9/11-related illnesses.
To give you an idea of the amazing work of Blue Lives Matter, I'd like to show you a video tribute produced by Blue Lives Matter NYC Antonio Bolfo called "Remember the Fallen", which includes Lisa Tuozzolo, Maritza Ramos and Pei Xia Chen, the widow of Det. Wenjian Liu.
Now I feel privileged to introduce Sgt. Joey Imperatrice, founder and president of Blue Lives Matter NYC
SGT. IMPERATRICE SPEAKS ABOUT BLUE LIVES MATTER NYC AND PRESENTS FLOWERS TO
Harrison: Lisa (Tuozzolo), we have something to give to your sons Austin and Joseph. Please let them know they will always have a great big family in blue and our community family looking out for them and remembering their father as a hero. These are tokens of our love and support for your sons, that have been given by the Police Officers of the 13th Precinct, Emergency Service Truck #1, Blue Lives Matter and the Gramercy Park Block Association. They include t-shirts, hats, keychains, Blue Lives Matter flags, coins from the 13th Precinct, and other items, and a box filled with treats from our GPBA family - all assembled by GPBA Board member Kathleen Scupp, who also decorated this room for tonight.
Now may we please have a moment of silence to remember Detective Steven McDonald and Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, and all brave Officers everywhere who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, followed by Taps by GPBA Executive Assistant Alex Nguyen.
MOMENT OF SILENCE FOLLOWED BY TAPS
Now I'd like to ask all NYPD, both active and retired to step forward. We want you to know that every day you've come to work and put your lives on the line to keep us safe, you are our heroes. We can think of no other job where you wear bulletproof vests and your families wonder whether you are coming home at night. When you are not safe, we are not safe. When you are in danger, we are in danger. We want to thank you, applaud you, and tell you that you will always be our heroes. Let's applaud them.
We want to thank everyone here tonight for joining us, and honoring these officers who paid the ultimate price. A hero remembered never dies.