Richard Ciceron has never returned to the East Flatbush intersection where he was involved in an altercation that resulted in the death of his best friend, Christopher Rose, in 2005. Rose became the first person in the country known to be killed over an iPod.
But on Saturday, Aug. 2, Ciceron joined residents of the Brooklyn community and several local politicians at the unveiling of Christopher Rose Way at Avenue D and East 40th Street. They met to honor the 15-year-old who was stabbed after refusing to turn over an iPod when a gang of several boys approached him and his friends at that very intersection.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who organized the ceremony, helped introduce legislation that would transform the intersection of tragedy into a permanent memorial for Rose to the City Council in May. It was approved unanimously, and by July, it was signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Along with mayoral candidate and Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Williams said the renaming would serve as an ongoing reminder of Rose’s legacy and help the community move forward.
“The primary result that we want to see is all young people to have a place to learn and grow,” Williams said. “To do this [unveiling] is a merging of the tragedy that [we] have had too many of in this district with the hope and strength that has to come from it. When people walk by this sign, they will remember and think, ‘What can I do with what I have and where I am to help make a this a safe place for young people?’”
Williams also acknowledged the strength of Rose’s mother and father, Sharon Coombs-Rose and Errol Rose, who established the Christopher Rose Community Empowerment Campaign (CRCEC) just a few days after his death. The CRCEC aims to combat youth violence by offering positive alternatives to the community, such as creating a low-cost summer camp that introduces youth to the world of electronics. Christopher Rose wanted to be a technician and loved robotics.
“We are just looking for peace and unity in this community,” Coombs-Rose said.
The ceremony included several dance and musical performances, including one by the Brooklyn Men’s Chorus, to which Errol Rose belongs. Afterward, Ciceron spoke to the crowd and expressed his appreciation for the renaming.
Ciceron, who has known the Rose family since he was 9 years old and often attended church and traveled with them, said that walking by the Christopher Rose Way sign will allow him to have a voice that he felt he did not have at the time of Rose’s death and will help rid him of the feelings that have kept him away from the neighborhood for eight years.
“The day it happened, as much as we were screaming and fighting, I feel like nobody heard us,” Ciceron, now 23, told the AmNews. “Now the street has a different feeling and connotation.”
Ciceron believes that the unveiling will also be the beginning of a “new day” for the Brooklyn community.
“It was Christopher then, but tomorrow it may be someone else,” he said. “The only way the community can move on is to help the youth move in the right direction.”