Southern Brooklyn

Community Rallies Behind Michael Sandy Memorial

Hate crime victim Michael Sandy (courtesy of Michael Sandy Foundation)

More than three years after the fatal beating of a gay man at Plumb Beach, the victim’s family members, friends, and advocates are one-step closer to securing a memorial in his honor.

Community Board 15 voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the erection of a memorial stone for Michael Sandy near the Plumb Beach parking lot.

Sandy was killed after a botched robbery-turned-hate crime in October 2006. His murder led friends of Sandy to form the Michael Sandy Foundation, which along with the his parents began seeking a tribute to victims of hate crimes everywhere.

“I would like to thank everyone involved who has had the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to putting this memorial up,” said Tony Bruce, the executive director of the Michael Sandy Foundation, during an interview with Sheepshead Bites. “In some part, by saying ‘yes’ to this they’ll be doing something small that may change someone’s mind about hate violence.”

Since its establishment shortly after Sandy’s death, the Michael Sandy Foundation serves to identify and support tolerance education, raise awareness of hate crimes, and provide emotional and other assistance to victims and their families. They hope an engraved stone will give potential perpetrators of hate crimes reason to ponder the consequences of their actions.

“Putting a memorial out there and letting people know what happened there and giving people a chance to reflect … will be a positive thing for us and Plumb Beach” said Bruce.

The group ramped up its efforts, spurred on by Sandy’s parents, about six months ago. Both the community board and Councilman Lew Fidler told the group they’d need to raise the funds themselves, as such memorials can be difficult to accomplish on taxpayer dollars. Months later, the foundation returned with $5,000 and plans for the memorial.

Watch CB15 discuss the Sandy memorial, and Councilman Fidler react to their approval

According to Bruce, the stone itself will resemble a tombstone. It will be made out of granite or similar polished stone, and will carry an inscription to Michael Sandy and all the victims that have lost their lives to hate violence. [Read the full inscription]

With the community board’s backing, Fidler is now taking the proposal to the commissioner of the Parks Department.

“This was a truly horrible hate crime and I think unfortunately New Yorkers need to be reminded from time to time about crimes of hate, whether it’s about race or religion or sexual orientation,” Fidler told Sheepshead Bites. “This is a fitting place, it’s a tasteful monument and hopefully it will help educate people and keep them from falling into this kind of trap again.”

As chairman of the Youth Services Committee, Fidler is frequently faced with the concerns of runaway homeless youth, many of whom have experienced LGBTQ discrimination and have been brutalized in their home environment.

Fidler will begin working immediately with the Parks Department to find a suitable location near the Plumb Beach parking lot but on city property – not the federally-managed Gateway Reserve.

The unveiling ceremony is expected to happen on or near the October 8 anniversary of the incident.

On that date in 2006, John Fox and Anthony Fortunato, along with Ilya Shurov and Gary Timmons, reportedly used websites to lure Michael Sandy to Plumb Beach, supposedly for anonymous sex. But when Sandy arrived the four men began rummaging through his car. According to witnesses, Shurov dragged Sandy out of the car and began hitting him. When Sandy attempted to escape, he ran onto the Belt Parkway. His pursuers caught him in the left lane and hit him again, knocking him into the center lane where he was struck by a car. They allegedly dragged him from the road and searched his pockets.

Sandy remained in a vegetative state for five days before his family removed life support. He died on October 13, 2006. [Read more about the case]

“It was a vicious crime and it was a horrible thing, and as a parent I would think maybe this is going to help [Sandy’s parents] find solace,” said CB15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo about the proposed monument. “They’ll have a place to go” to honor and remember their son, she added.

Sandy’s parents could not be reached for comment.

Comment policy


  1. Why the heck does it mention GLBT people who are brutalized in their own homes? That's not relevant, but alludes to the victim, who was brutalized by the community (because PLEASE don't tell me that SB is friendly to people of different races or sexual orientations), not his family. Irrelevant and almost tries to take the onus off the community. Honestly, I am SHOCKED that people support this, because SB is one of the most closed minded places I know when it comes to issues of sexual orientation (and not so hot with race, either).

  2. While I'll agree the SB is not especially tolerant to openly GLBT people the fact is that a truly tolerant environment does not exist. Even in places stereotypically identified with the GLBT community. But any community would be horrified when intolerance leads to abuse and violence.

    The issues of abuse in the home environment do need to be discussed, as does that of domestic violence within the GLBT community.

    But perhaps not at this time. There are appropriate venues for that discussion, much work has being done in that area.

    The smallness of the response here is indicative of absolutely nothing. Some matters are truly so horrific that they take our expression away.

  3. I dont know every little detail of what happened the night this guy was killed and its a bad thing that happened but why would they allow a memorial to be put up there. he went to this place to have anonymous gay sex in a park or car wasnt he. you know if he was out walking his dog or just going for stroll and was robbed and beaten thats one thing but thats not the case. what if he was not gay and was going to meet a women prostitute and was robbed and killed would it get the same attention? was he from this area? does his family live here? look at the demographic of the community board do you really think they care about this. i wonder what kind of reaction the community board would have received if they denied this request.

  4. I don't think that's quite fair, Ann. I don't think Local was saying it was his fault or that he got what he deserved. While I don't think Sheepshead is the most tolerant place in the world, I don't think it's as intolerant and hateful as you make it out to be.

    I'll let local speak for himself, but in my opinion I think he's raising a few points that have merit (not a statement of right or wrong, just merit). First of all, many agree that Sandy was there for anonymous gay sex, and since that's not what we want Plumb Beach known for, it's a valid objection to putting a memorial there. It's also a worthy question to ask whether the community board agreed to avoid accusations that would be politically damaging.

    Now, in my opinion, the value in this memorial is that it may give any other people who continue to go to Plumb Beach a moment to pause and realize the danger they're putting themselves in – regardless of gender or orientation. And, as Scavo says, it'll provide some sort of calm for the parents. Considering there's no cost put on the taxpayer for this, I think it's a small gesture that could prove to have some influence.

  5. Ned got what i was trying to say. im not blaming anyone. i have never been to plumb beach and probably will never go there so i wont see the memorial. point is does it really belong there? is this just politics? Ned, if any money came from taxpayers this would not even go to vote. does the guy deserve a memorial sure why not. but why here. no one in this community cares about this or knows who he was like i said if he grew up here or lived here then that would be different. do we want people to enter a beach or park with a memorial in front of them reminding them that there was a murder here because he was gay or black. the CB gave an ok because it was plumb beach not many people go there so why fight it and they look good in the process. if this happened at the entrance to manhattan beach park or brighton beach boardwalk there is no way in hell that they would approve it. the foundation got 5 grand for this they could use that money for charity not a tombstone in a public park where no one will care about it.

  6. The stats for murder within the GLBT community consist of a small number compared to their entire numbers of those so defined. And many of these tragedies occur victims seemingly disregard a cautious approach to meeting others. A murder such as this one will fail to significantly impress others who could also become victims because “I've done this before, and nothing happened to me”. Perhaps that was the thought Michael Sandy had before he met his murderers.

    I vaguely recall a incident which took place many years ago in the Manhattan Beach parking lot. The severity escapes me but it did shook up some people that used that spot as a trysting place for a time. But, soon forgotten, the normal routine resumed. Our memories are short for that which we find distressing and imposing on our activities.

    So perhaps reminders are in order in any place where people might be in danger because they are acting without sufficient regard for their personal safety. People need to realize that happened to Michael Sandy might have been avoided if he had been aware that one has to always be on the safeguard for predatory behavior. We do need to stress that predators prey on all sorts of people. It's not just gay people.

    Monuments like this one really for everyone to be warned by.

  7. im not sure i get what your saying here. are you saying that we need to have a friendly reminder for gay people that its not safe to have sex with someone you dont know in a public park? should we have signs at every street corner reminding people to look both ways before crossing. i just thought remeber that young boy that was murdered last year in sheepshead bay he was stabbed by an older boy. where is his memorial? here i went to find it

    so was anything ever done for this little kid that was just walking in the street or playing in a park and was murdered. im done talking about this im sorry but it makes no sense and is bullshit politics.

  8. We do have signs everywhere warning people not to engage in unsafe behavior. Signs that tell us to dive slow on curves, not to run up subway stairs, even warnings on beverage cuts that “Coffee is hot”!

    Plaques are placed usually when some interested party goes through the trouble of raising money for its placement. There are other plaques, and there will be more. Perhaps even a street naming or two. Usually such things are no more than a few lines in the paper.

    Look around,, this is not really such an uncommon manifestation. Perhaps they becoming too common, we turn a blind eye to their existence.

    Kings Highway is filled with squares dedicated to soldiers who died almost 100 years ago in WWI. Too bad those memorials didn't stop the next one.

  9. Is there an update on if the monument was placed yet? I haven’t had a chance to visit Plumb Beach in a while and would like to pay respects.


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