Danyal Lawson spoke out in public for the first time at Saturday night’s candlelight vigil since the murder of his husband, Lou Rispoli.
Lawson and Rispoli had been married legally for a year, but had shared their lives for a total of 32. Rispoli, an administrator at Greenwich House Music School in Manhattan, fought for equality for all, always pushing for gay rights in all aspects of life including politics, when he volunteered his time for Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s (D-Sunnyside) campaign.
“I lost the great love of my life,” Lawson said. “I’ve been robbed of this amazing man. His friends have been robbed of a great soul.”
And many friends felt that way as evidenced by the hundreds people who marched from 51st Street, where Lawson and Rispoli lived, down 43rd Avenue to 41st Street, where Rispoli was attacked on Oct. 20. Some had traveled from the other boroughs and even from out of state to take a stand against the violence that took Rispoli’s life.
Rispoli, 62, who had a hard time sleeping and would take walks around his neighborhood, was beaten with a blunt object outside a large apartment complex at 41-00 43 Ave. around 2 a.m. early on a Saturday morning. A witness saw the attack from across the street and called the police. He said two men hit Rispoli while a tall man waited at a car. Officials are unsure if the murder was a hate crime.
During the march Lawson and Van Bramer reiterated that no one should feel unsafe when walking through Woodside.
“He never felt afraid to walk the streets here. At any time,” Lawson said. “No one should feel afraid to walk these streets at any time. No matter who they are.”
Michael Seltzer was one longtime friend of Rispoli who stood among the masses on Saturday night.
“When Danyal and Lou moved they were like settlers. When they moved we thought we could spread out and live where we want,” Seltzer said. “With instances like this, even though there have been huge advancements in LGBT rights, we still shouldn’t assume.”
The police are still looking for the men connected to Rispoli’s murder and have offered a $22,000 reward for any information. Private individuals have contributed an additional $3,000 boosting the total to $25,000, according to Van Bramer. All information can be reported anonymously at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).
“The suspects who did this must be brought to justice and we cannot rest until they pay the price for taking Lou’s life,” Van Bramer said.
The councilman said although the police arrived on the scene minutes after the crime, he has asked the commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Donald Powers, why an evidence truck did not visit the scene until Sunday, a day later.
“And I want to know the police are doing everything they can to bring the people who committed this crime to justice,” Lawson said.