GREENWICH VILLAGE, N.Y. (PIX11) — O’Shae Sibley was killed in an act of hate because he was gay and because he was dancing, according to witnesses and police. On Saturday, however, Sibley’s memory was celebrated in many ways at different events.
The people closest to Sibley, 28, organized a memorial ceremony, candlelight vigil, march, and party in his honor. The ceremony, held at the LGBT Center Saturday night, had both moments of grief and empowerment.
“Here we’re always pushing back to rise up, and that was O’Shae,” said one friend from the podium. “O’Shae stood up for what he believed in.”
Among the speakers at the ceremony were people who had been with Sibley when he was killed on July 29. Joshua Sanchez was one of them.
“If this wasn’t caught on video, would we have gotten justice?” he said.
Sanchez was referring to surveillance video from the gas station in Midwood, Brooklyn, where a 17-year-old, who was seen on screen wearing red shorts, confronted Sibley and his friends, who’d been vogueing — a dance viewed in the LGBTQ community as a show of pride — while they were filling up their car with gas.
As Sibley and his friends, who’d just returned to Brooklyn from a day at the beach, kept dancing, the teen attacker and his friends only got more intense, according to detectives.
Joseph Kenny, the assistant chief of the NYPD Detective Bureau, said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon that the late-night attack was a hate crime.
“They began using derogatory names and used homophobic slurs against him, and anti-Black statements all while demanding that they simply stop dancing,” Kenny said.
When Sibley confronted the teen, according to witnesses and detectives, the alleged attacker stabbed Sibley in the chest. It killed the man who danced at Lincoln Center, and at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center, among other places.
Mayor Eric Adams said that Sibley’s killing is not what New York City is about.
“This is a city where you are free to express yourself and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” the mayor said at a Saturday afternoon press conference.
LGBTQ, Black, and Muslim leaders joined the mayor at the briefing. The suspect in the case had said he was Muslim, according to witnesses.
The theme of the events honoring Sibley was all hate must end.
Desirée Kelly, one of Sibley’s sisters, spoke with PIX11 News after the memorial ceremony.
“Thank you to everybody donating, everybody supporting, everybody trying to make a difference to stop this from happening to anybody else,” she said.
Her twin sister, Destiny Kelly, said the family had received extensive support. As a result, she said, “an organization will be in his name, to live on.”
Sibley’s father, Jake Kelly, said that he was grateful that so many people had been so expressive.
“Everybody’s coming out and showing love,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing. It’s just beautiful.”
Kelly said that the family had gotten support from around the world.
In the West Village on Saturday, though, there were candles, balloons in Sibley’s favorite color — orange — and chanting his name. The hundreds of supporters marched to Pier 46 on the Hudson, where Sibley and others had sometimes vogued in the past.
The crowd played music and danced. There was vogueing and other moves, as they commemorated the life of their family member and friend. Then, as the sun set over the Hudson, they released their orange balloons.
Funeral services for Sibley are planned for Tuesday in Philadelphia, his hometown.