A crowd of about 2,000 people sang happy birthday to Danroy (D.J.) Henry, celebrating the young man’s 21st birthday at the Boston Convention Center last Friday. About 175 students from Pace University traveled to Boston for the event in buses provided by the school. Henry’s family presented an amazing cake covered in flowers and candles, and his uncle performed a song on his guitar, which he had written especially for the occasion.
The only person missing from the wonderful birthday celebration was Henry himself.
“Hey D.J., I can’t believe they took you out that way,” sang his uncle. “What makes men do the evil that they do?”
Henry was shot and killed on October 7 by police in Pleasantville, New York. The details of the events leading up to Henry’s death are still in dispute and being investigated, as official police and witness stories differ.
Henry’s family has asked the Justice Department and the FBI to take over the investigation of their son’s murder in what the family attorney has called a “cover-up” by the Pleasantville Police Department. Many have also compared this shooting to Sean Bell. On Sunday, a Danroy Justice Vigil was held at Sean Bell Way in Queens, where Bell was killed four years ago.
“We have a moral obligation to stand up because all over this country, police think they can kill our men women and children,” said Reverend Omar Wilks on Sunday. “Danroy Henry, who was a straight-A student, was a good kid. He never had a record. He did the right thing, like Sean Bell.”
Attendees at the vigil said they are tired of the attacks and the occupation of Black communities, like those in Iraq and Iran.
“We are standing here today to hold a vigil for Danroy Henry, who was murdered by the police specifically because he was an African-American. We are tired of the attacks on the African-American community by the police department,” said Fyc, a member of the international peoples democratic UHURU movement, who are proponents for African liberation.
While many people are still fighting for justice after his death, Friday’s memorial was all about remembering Henry’s admirable life.
“My best memory would have to be between playing foot or playing music with him. He dabbled in music and would send me new music all the time. He also cut hair on campus. Most of our teammates went to him. He was just a great person to be around,” said Dominique West, a junior at Pace University who played football with Henry.
“He shared a love of music, something people haven’t been talking about,” said Natheniel Ford, a senior at Pace University who played football with Henry. “D.J. loved recording music, singing and rapping. He would always ask me when were going to the studio. I would say, ‘After the season,’ but little did I know, there would be no after the season.”
The Pace University football team took one game off after Henry’s death and started their first game back on the field minus one player, in memory of Henry. At the memorial, Pace University’s head football coach, Chris Dapolito, said his team will dedicate the rest of its season to Henry.
“D.J., you have graced the lives of everyone who knew you,” Dapolito said. “We love you, we miss you, and we will honor you.”