Hundreds of Brooklynites gathered with local pols and religious leaders for a candlelight vigil in Carroll Gardens on Sunday evening, mourning those who died in terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.
Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders led a crowd of around 400 in prayer at Carroll Park on Smith Street before the assembly marched through neighborhood streets to a second service at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church on Sackett Street, and attendees said it warmed their hearts to see so many groups come together for the occasion.
“It was very nice and open,” said Boris Meyer, a Parisian who lives in Carroll Gardens. “We saw Jewish people, Muslim, Christians, and people like me that are not necessarily believers all gathering together. It’s beautiful.”
Borough President Adams organized the event ostensibly to support Brooklyn’s French community after terrorists killed 129 people in Paris on Friday. But he and other speakers equally denounced the suicide bombers who murdered 40 in Lebanon on Thursday, as well as the terrorists who slaughtered 147 people at a university in Kenya in April, while standing in front of French, Lebanese, Kenyan, and American flags at the Carroll Park War Memorial.
“Je suis Kenya, je suis Beirut, je suis France,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush), harking back to the “Je suis Charlie” — or “I am Charlie” — slogan popularized after terrorists killed 12 people at the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.
Carroll Gardens — sometimes called “Little Paris” — is widely regarded as the center of Brooklyn’s French expatriate community, home to many French restaurants, the borough’s annual Bastille Day celebration, and several schools that teach classes in French.
But residents from a rainbow of backgrounds turned out to the vigil to show their support and say a prayer on Sunday — the least they could do for their neighbors, according to one attendee.
“I would like to think that any decent human being would be horrified by what happened in Paris and would want to show solidarity,” said Park Sloper Neil Feldman, a fourth-generation New Yorker.
Leaders delivered messages of peace and unity in the wake of the attacks, but Adams also said he would organize meetings with law enforcement officials and major Brooklyn gathering places like Barclays Center and MCU Park in coming weeks to make sure staff there are trained to look out for suspicious activity.
“While we want you to go about your business as usual, we are going to do what we have to do as governmental officials to make sure this borough remains safe,“ said Adams. “We are going to remain vigilant.”