July 19, 2013 By Christian Murray
A quiet street in Woodside is going to be co-named after a man who was brutally murdered in Sunnyside last October.
The city is co-naming 51st Street (btw. 43rd and Skillman Avenues) Lou Rispoli Way, after a long-time resident who was struck down on a Sunnyside street and died five days later in Elmhurst Hospital.
Rispoli lived on 51st Street, next to John Downing Park, for 30 years and was well-respected and admired by many of his neighbors and friends. The street co-naming celebration has been scheduled for July 27.
“His murder was incredibly sad and there was an emotional outpouring of community support,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who put in the request for the co-naming.
In November, 500 people turned out for a vigil in Rispoli’s honor that started by his 51st Street coop building and went down 43rd Avenue to the place of his murder at 41-00 43rd Avenue.
“This street naming is part of the celebration of his life,” Van Bramer said. “He was a friend to so many people in our neighborhood—yet he was tragically killed in our own backyard.”
The announcement of came as a surprise to Rispoli’s husband, Danyal Lawson.
“He was surprised, shocked and totally thrilled,” said Deniz Hughes, a friend of both Lawson and Rispoli, who wrote letters to the city council in support of the street co-naming. He only learned about it at the end of last month.
Rispoli and Lawson had been married for about a year, but had been an item for 31 years.
“Lou was an exceptionally proud and generous man,” Hughes said. “It was such a shame that after all these years…when he was finally accepted as a gay married man… he was killed.”
The police appear to have made little progress in tracking down the killers.
The case appeared to have been bungled by the police from the get-go. While the police arrived shortly after Rispoli’s attack, it took them 36 hours before a crime scene vehicle showed up to conduct a thorough investigation.
The police department’s internal affairs bureau began investigated the 108 Precinct’s response to the murder in November. However, it still has not released its findings.