Saying Goodbye To Manny Fiallo Jr.
On May 4, members of the Far Rockaway community filled the streets surrounding the Beach 41st Street Community Center to pay their respects to Manuel Fiallo Jr. affectionately known as “The Mayor of Far Rockaway.”
Fiallo died on May 2, and the outpouring of grief drew many to his memorial. Joining the gathering were elected officials, members of the FDNY and NYPD, as well as family and friends of a man who was regarded as a positive influence throughout the area.
“The best way to honor him is to continue his work,” was the theme of the night.
There were moments of silence when candles were lit and prayers were said, but tears were reserved for the immediate family members. Perhaps most touching of all was his father, Manuel Fiallo, Sr.
The pain of losing a child is indescribable and in his tear-choked voice he thanked the crowd gathered in front of him “This brings my heart up,” he said. “I didn’t know my son was so loved, by so many people”
“My friend was murdered 15 years ago and I decided that I would do something to make a difference,’ said Richards. He reminded the crowd all non-violence initiatives must become bigger and bigger.
“We must talk to our brothers to stop the violence,” said Richards. “We must all commit ourselves to that. It does no good to cry for him, bury him and go back to violence. Because of Manny and his work, from Redfern to Hammels [has become] a community of peace. There has been a 60 percent drop in violence.”
Richards added that he will work with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Fiallo family to have a street named Manny Fiallo Way.
Lakia Echols, the director of the Redfern Community Center, and president and founder of Make My Mother Proud, said Fiallo was her mentor, partner and big brother in the events they planned for the community. She focused her remarks on his health and the health of the community.
“Our bodies are temples that expire, but our souls do not expire,” said Echols. “Health is going to be involved in all events. Too many young people are dying from something that could have been caught earlier and saved a life. Go to the doctor regularly. Get a checkup.”
According to Echols, Fiallo died from a rare blood disorder called Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP).
“We don’t know your reason for calling him home, so thank you for loaning us an angel on this earth,” concluded Echols.
As the candles were placed around the entrance to the Beach 41st Community Center, the DJ pumped up the music with “Before I Let Go”, Manny’s favorite song and the people of the community paid tribute to a man in the manner he would have wished.