Prince Joshua Avitto

Prince Joshua Avitto

I was beyond hysterical after reading about the savage murder of six-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto and the near killing of seven-year-old Mikayla Capers. These two precious children were savagely attacked in an elevator in one of the buildings of Boulevard Houses in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where murders are all too familiar. But not that of babies.

The weather is on the cusp of summer. School is close to finishing and joyous laughter reverberates throughout the complex. PJ, called "Superman" by his NBA player cousin, Taj Gibson, along with his platonic Lois Lane, Mikayla, are in need of some cooling down and will do so with a frozen treat. As they ride up the usual elevator, I can only imagine the excitement on their faces and in their voices, but cannot fathom the terror and fear when a monster, an actual monster, would join them on the ride up and hack at them until he had enough. The results: Prince Joshua is dead and Mikayla is clinging to life. 

How I wish, little PJ could have possessed the super powers of his favorite superhero, Spider-man and have entrapped this monster into a web with his web shooters. But life isn't a cartoon or a character in a video game, where children are reemerging alive in the next round. This is real life. 

While the NYPD combed for evidence, it was then revealed that there were no cameras in or outside of the building or elevator. Police officers were depending only on Mikayla's survival and recollection to provide them with a description of the attacker. This is absolutely ridiculous when it has been reported that money was allocated for the installations of security cameras---half a million dollars was allocated for the Boulevard Houses since July of last year, and yet, nothing. 

According to the New York Times, “of the 2,563 public housing buildings in the city, fewer than half — 1,061 — have surveillance cameras in elevators, lobbies, equipment rooms and other locations,” and will cost anywhere from $400 to $600 million dollars.

It is worth it. Our children, our lives...we are worth it.

Mikayla asked “why did this man hurt me,” a question that has yet to be answered. As she asks this, I ask the same of the New York Housing Authority, who continue to hurt residents in housing complexes with their lack of urgency in providing protection for its residents. 

We don't yet know how this tragedy will impact her in the long-term, or how family members and therapists will help her make sense of what happened to her best friend and why. But the time now is for explanations from the New York Housing Authority, not statements of condolences. 

I am fed up of the lack of commitment and urgency from those who claim to have our best interests at heart. I am tired of reading about Black, Brown and poor children and the setbacks they face because they aren’t good enough to invest in. I am tired of 'they can go one more day without because they've done so thus far' rhetoric from city officials and other leader, who invest in other parts of New York City, prepare neighborhoods to serve as the set of HBO's Girls and create bike lanes so that new residents can get to their organic markets in a 'clean' way. So why can't they protect our children?

And this isn’t only in Brooklyn, but also a global issue. Between the news in Nigeria, where government officials have expressed nonchalant attitudes regarding the kidnapped girls; the two teenage girls raped, strangled and hanged on a mango tree in India as they are fruits; teachers molesting students and so forth. I am sick and tired of crying when reading the news about the vulnerability of children. 

Dear, sweet Prince Joshua Avitto, may you now find the peace and the palace you deserved on Earth. To all the Princes and Princesses of our underserved communities: you are worth protection and we will find a way.