"I lost the great love of my life," Danyal Lawson, whose husband Lou Rispoli was brutally beaten in Queens last month said at a candlelight vigil on Saturday. "The papers say we got married last year. 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. When domestic partnership became available we registered. And any time there was a reason to celebrate, Lou saw that as a reason to celebrate our relationship again." Sadly, the couple will never be able to celebrate their relationship again.
Early on the morning of October 20, 62-year-old beloved insomniac, activist, "cook, coach, host and counselor," Lou Rispoli took a late night stroll—which was not uncommon for him to do. But sadly, at some point on his walk he encountered three men who, for unknown reasons, beat him so severely that five days later his family had to take him off of life support. According to reports he "was hit in the head with a blunt object with such force that neighbors who heard the assault but did not see it thought he had been shot." Even worse, his assailants, who sped off in a car, remain at large. Hence this weekend's candlelight vigil.
"Our community lost a friend, a family member and a man who cared deeply about his neighborhood as well as you all," Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer told the crowds gathered at the site where Rispoli was attacked. "The suspects who did this must be brought to justice and we cannot rest until they pay the price for taking Lou’s life." To that end the NYPD is offering a $22,000 reward for anyone with any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Rispoli’s killers. Any information can help, because sadly, as Van Bramer pointed out, "Right now, only Lou knows what happened that night. And he’s gone."
Beyond publicly mourning Lou Rispoli for the first time, however, his husband Danyal also made it clear that New Yorkers should not use this awful incident as an excuse to be afraid. Talking to the crowd he 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. No matter who they are.