Far Rockaway lawmaker hosts Justin Wallace’s family one year after 10-year-old schoolboy was fatally shot

Far Rockaway lawmaker honors Justin Wallace
Justin Wallace’s family receives a proclamation on the Assembly floor last month ahead of the one-year anniversary of his fatal shooting. (Courtesy of Anderson’s office)

In a city tormented by gun violence, the Far Rockaway community continues to grieve the loss of 10-year-old Justin Wallace, who was shot and killed just over a year ago as he stood in the doorway of his family’s home on Beach 45th Street in Edgemere.

The fifth-grader at the Challenge Preparatory Charter School in Far Rockaway was rushed to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on June 5, 2021.

As the legislative session wound down in Albany last month, Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson honored Wallace’s family in the Assembly Chamber, where he presented them with a proclamation that was drafted by his sister.

“Introducing Justin Wallace’s mother, Aretha Douglas, and sister, Takeshi Lilly-Pinnock, stands out as one of the most sobering moments I have seen on the Assembly floor,” Anderson said. “The strength and resiliency showed by Justin’s family, unfortunately, serves as a defining moment that I will never forget. I will never stop fighting for communities like mine throughout the 31st Assembly district that should not have to endure the level of pain that gun violence causes a family, a community and a people.”

Far Rockaway lawmaker honors Justin Wallace
Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson with members of the Wallace family. (Courtesy of Anderson’s office)

His district includes the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula which suffers a disproportionate level of gun violence that is exacerbated by a lack of mental health services.

“When we talk about mental health awareness and support, we cannot forget the lasting impact disinvestment has on communities,” Anderson said. “From the physical health detriments to psychological health detriments, when pieces are missing from our investment puzzle, communities can never be whole.”

On June 18, Anderson and the Community Mediation Services and Full Gospel Tabernacle will announce plans for The Edgemere Community Mediation Program, dedicated to the memory of Justin Wallace. The launch event will be held at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church at 361 Beach 42nd Street beginning at 2 p.m. The program will be uniquely targeted toward mediation and conflict resolution by equipping Edgemere and Arverne community leaders and residents with tools for mediation, conflict coaching and restorative process.

“The launch of the Edgemere Community Mediation Program is simply one of many first steps to provide the 31st Assembly District as its Assembly member,” Anderson said.

Far Rockaway lawmaker honors Justin Wallace
The 10-year-old victim of gun violence was a fifth-grader at the Challenge Preparatory Charter School in Far Rockaway. (QNS/File)

Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers has high hopes that Anderson’s innovative approach can bring about some much-needed community healing.

“Gun violence is a pandemic we have the tools to cure,” she said. “Programs like Edgemere Community Mediation and the Crisis Management System are vital programs that help to alleviate tensions in our community. These initiatives continue to have transformational effects on the community, and could have been instrumental in saving Justin Wallace’s life, a shining star, who had his whole life ahead of him.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said Justin’s family should have spent the last few weeks planning for his 11th birthday party, instead of marking one year without him.

“Justin Wallace should still be with us today,” Richards said. “Nothing will bring him back, but we can honor his memory by ensuring no other family is forced to experience the unimaginable grief Wallace has felt. The Edgemere Community Mediation Program will make a world of difference for so many in this community and I’m deeply grateful to all our partners involved in the creation of the critical restorative justice and dispute de-escalation effort.”

Far Rockaway lawmaker honors Justin Wallace
The funeral of 10-year-old Justin Wallace. (QNS/File)

Arverne resident Jovan Young was indicted by a Queens grand jury on murder and other charges for allegedly firing the fatal shots that killed the schoolboy and shattered the community. He is awaiting trial. The Edgemere Community Mediation Program will hold its first workshop on July 16 and meet each month through November.

“Steering the youth in the right direction is a community effort. Let’s be clear, friends: impact takes the right resources and dedicated leadership,” state Senator James Sanders said. “This program helps develop their minds and constructively resolve conflicts that are the proper steps to a safer community. I am excited to share this program with my constituency and can’t wait for what is next for the youth this summer.”

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