More than 60 people gathered on 10th Street Tuesday evening in front of the apartment of Monica and Paul Shay, two East Village residents shot in their Pennsylvania home over the weekend.
Candles burned alongside letters and bouquets of flowers resting on the steps to the graffiti-covered door of 263 East 10th Street, upon which a poster with a photo of Shays was affixed. With both Monica and Paul still alive, friends and co-workers participating in the vigil tried to keep the proceedings in the present tense. One former student of Monica’s reminded everyone: “It’s not Monica was, it’s Monica is.”
On Saturday Mark Geisenheyner, a career criminal, killed the Shay’s nephew Joseph and Joseph’s girlfriend Kathryn Erdmann’s 2-year-old son, Gregory. Erdmann, Monica, associate professor at the Pratt Institute, and Paul, owner of a plumbing company, were all shot in the head.
Former and current students, employees, local friends, and professors from Pratt gathered on the sidewalk alongside members of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, of which Monica was the National Coordinator.
Two members of the Pratt community, Director of Multi-Media Services Chris Arabadjis and professor Jim Costanzo, described Monica to us as a “positive force.”
More than 20 people came up to share their thoughts about the couple, who were remembered as being leaders in activism. Multiple speakers brought up the Shays’ role working with the homeless during the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots.
Although speakers were implored to keep speculation about the nature of the couple’s attack to a minimum, one friend who spoke said that reports that Paul was involved in an insurance scheme were “fucking crap.”
Most of the discussion was focused on Monica’s work at Pratt, where she was the director of the Arts and Cultural Management Program, and her role within the community.
Juanita Young was one of the group of four people who stood together and spoke from Parents Against Police Brutality. She met Monica after her son was killed by police, and said that Monica “gives you a lot of strength.”
“Those two were like a couple beyond a couple,” she told the group.