New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
The 29year old Greek American George Zapantis, who died on June 21 in the hands of NYPD officers who tased him repeatedly while trying to arrest him, was laid to rest on Monday June to 29. The funeral service presided by Archbishop of America Elpidophoros, took place at the Church of Holy Cross Whitestone. Due to the coronavirus pandemic only close relatives and friends were able to attend.
The expenses of the funeral were covered by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
In his eulogy for George Zapantis, Archbishop Elpidophoros said “Today, we hear the cry of a mother, a mother unjustly deprived of her son, a mother whose heart is rent in two, a mother who has come to the Church of the Holy Cross upon which the Son of the Theotokos died, to bury her son. To mourn her son. To grieve her son.”
Addressing the mother, he said “Beloved Athanasia, I want you to know that your cry is heard. Heard by your Church. Heard by your community. Heard by your People, the Omogeneia around the world. We gather with you to provide this crumb of consolation, but nothing to bring justice to George and to your family.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros told the parishioners that we must seek justice outside of this moment of mourning.
“We must seek justice from our Righteous God. And we must seek justice by speaking the truth to the powers that be. We are in the midst of this global pandemic, and we are in the midst of our American society that has been rocked by the very kind of abuse that brings us around George’s coffin today. And there is no justice in this moment as we pray for God’s mercy upon his soul, as we pray for comfort for Athanasia, a mother bereft of her son. No more fitting Ναός could be found for our funeral rites today; because this is the Church of the Holy Cross. Therefore, we stand with our Panagia at the Cross, the cross of an unjust death perpetrated by the Roman Empire. And we also stand with another mother, our beloved Athanasia, by the cross of the unjust death of her son, George.”
Replying to his rhetoric questions “what can we do and what must we do?”, Archbishop Elpudophoros said:
“In this moment, we offer our prayers, our solace, our love for this family robbed of their George. But we must also steady ourselves to hear their prophetic cry. Is it nothing to us, as we pass by this moment of grief? Can we not turn to take into our full view their sorrow, pain, and grief? Will we settle for less than a full accounting of justice now in this moment, so that it will not come to be justice denied?
We are a community—not the biggest for certain, and not the most influential. But we are a family of believers and a family of Hellenes. Our responsibility is to work for the justice that George was denied.
Our vocation is to stand up for him because he was brought down, even into the shallows of death, by ignorance, by cruelty, by mistrust, and by incompetence.”
Elpidophoros encouraged all not to desert the cross that Athanasia stands by today, a cross that she will carry for the rest of her life.
“We may not be able to raise George back to life, but we can raise his cause and not let his banner fall until “justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
We can uphold his cause and uphold his family in their search for the rule of law, for integrity, for honesty, and for the due process that George was denied, and that so many of our fellow citizens have been denied.
The illness that caused his death was not in George. The illness that caused his death is in our society, a society that has lost its capacity for empathy, for compassion, and for understanding.”
I concluding, Archbishop of America stressed that we will not let this be the end of George’s story.
“We will not let George’s death – so very cruel and so very far before his time – we will not allow his death to be in vain. We will honor his memory by our search for justice. We will hold his name precious by our fight for his vindication. And we will hold his life in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls as we fight the good fight to make our world a better world for all people. Where love conquers hate. Where knowledge conquers prejudice. And where wisdom conquers fear.”
Gianaris and Constantinidis
condemn the death of Zapantis
New York State Senator Mike Gianaris (12, D) speaking to the “Greek News said that the police violence that killed George Zapantis – and that continues to victimize too many Americans – is unacceptable and those involved must be held accountable.
“The NYPD is not equipped to respond to people with mental health issues and should not be responsible for doing so”, Gianaris told the Greek News.
“This job would be better performed by qualified professionals who can address these issues more appropriately with the compassion they deserve. Until we reimagine the role of police in our society, more tragedies like this are likely. We must make changes.”
New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides (District 22) in a statement he issued on the death of George Zapantis shortly after being taken into police custody, said he mourns his death with his fellow Greek Americans.
“The facts of this case are still unfolding, but what we know already is deeply troubling. There must be a full, transparent and independent investigation as to what happened. While that’s underway, we must have a serious conversation about the reasons why New Yorkers like George Zapantis, who reportedly had a history of mental health issues, died during an arrest.”
Costa Constantinidis points out the sad history of deploying police to deal with issues that should be handled by trained mental health professionals.
“Police should be the absolute last option in these situations. As we have a bigger discussion around reforms to police training, funding and procedures, there must be a deep look at how we treat emotionally disturbed people. As we hopefully divert $1 billion from the NYPD’s existing budget into social services, that must include supporting trained mental health professionals who can be our first line of response alongside EMTs. We owe that to our fellow New Yorkers who have been left behind for too long.”
New York City Council voted on Tuesday to divert $1 billion from NYPD’s budget into social services.
State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (republican candidate for U.S. Congress) didn’t issue a statement on George Zapantis’ tragic death in the hands of the Police. Malliotakis who takes pride as a strong “law and order conservative”) also didn’t march with Archbishop Elpidophoros in Brooklyn, at a BLM rally. On Tuesday, she called the NYC Council “idiotic” for voting to divert 1 billion from NYPD to social services, claiming falsely that the “cut is enough to completely eliminate the NYPD’s anti-terrorism efforts until the year 2026.”
Most of the anti-terrorist NYPD ;efforts are funded by special federal funds for Homeland Security.