Flushing Meadows Corona Park will play host to an interfaith prayer vigil this evening for the nine victims gunned down Wednesday night at a Charleston, S.C., church.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials are expected to participate in the ceremony that will take place at 8 p.m. in front of the Queens Museum, located a short distance from the Unisphere.
According to Katz’s office, the vigil will honor the memory of the Charleston massacre victims while also demonstrating support for efforts to stop gun violence. The museum’s exterior, visible to drivers on the Grand Central Parkway, will be illuminated in orange through June 30 as part of Gun Violence Awareness Month.
The massacre occurred Wednesday night during Bible study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. The alleged gunman — Dylann Roof, 21, who has ties to white supremacist groups — sat in the class for an hour before fatally shooting the church’s pastor— Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator — and eight others, all of whom were black.
Roof, who reportedly made racially charged statements and uttered epithets immediately before and during the shooting, was caught the following day in North Carolina.
Among those joining Katz at the vigil include Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown; Assistant Chief David Barrere, commander of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South; Rabbi Robin Fryer Bodzin of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism; Dr. Ghassan Elcheikhali of the Razi School in Woodside; and Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in St. Albans.
Greater Allen Cathedral held a similar rally on Saturday in St. Albans attended by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who condemned the massacre as “an act of domestic … and racist terrorism.” Joining Pastor Floyd Flake and other community leaders, the mayor said the city would continue working toward eradicating racism and building a society based on social and economic fairness and justice.
“The only way change has been made in this country is by those willing to stare fear in the face,” de Blasio said. “Terror cannot break the back of this community. It cannot break the back of the A.M.E. church. It cannot break the back of peace-loving people. We will continue to build the society we believe in.”