Justice for Junior: Street renamed for Guzman-Feliz

Justice for Junior: Street renamed for Guzman-Feliz
Junior’s parents Leandra (2nd from l) and Lisandro (c) were presented ceremonial street signs.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

The 15-year-old boy whose tragic murder touched hearts across America has been immortalized.

The corner of Bathgate Avenue and East 183rd Street is now officially Lesandro Junior Guzman-Feliz Way as of Wednesday, February 27.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. joined Councilman Ritchie Torres and Junior’s parents Leandra and Lisandro along with many other Bronxites at the cursed corner to celebrate the life of the innocent teenager who is gone too soon.

The co-naming actually happened on Leandra’s birthday, which had left the mother almost speechless.

She did smile when a mariachi band performed its rendition of happy birthday, though.

It’s been a challenging year for Leandra and her family since Junior’s passing on Wednesday, June 20.

She spends almost every day visiting his gravesite at St. Raymond’s Cemetery.

“The legacy that Junior Guzman leaves behind summed up in #JusticeForJunior has been an awakening for all of us and has become a national rallying cry against gang violence in our streets. The images of Junior’s death have become to our time what the images of Emmet Till was to his own time. Junior’s death has awakened all of us, and has confronted us with a crisis that we cannot afford to ignore,” Torres said when he first proposed the street’s co-naming some months ago.

In wake of Junior’s tragedy, Torres also allocated one million dollars to seven police precincts in the Bronx to combat the dangerous rise of gang violence in the borough, those being: the 40th, 42nd, 44th, 46th, 47th, 48th (Junior’s home precinct) and 52nd precincts.

“I pushed for $1 million to be included in the recently adopted city budget and it will go directly to the 48th Precinct for ‘Cure Violence’ gang-violence prevention initiative. This will take a holistic approach that will connect former gang members and violence interrupters with youth who may be at risk of joining gangs, and link them to social services, conflict resolution specialists and legal services as needed,” said Torres.

Junior also joined the NYPD explorers program in his youth. Stationed out of the 45th Precinct, he spent his adolescence staying on the right side of the law.

He was about to wrap up his junior year of high school at Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health & Science Charter School during that June month.

His English teacher Brianna Schaar commended the young man for being one of her most improved students.

As of Wednesday, January 23, the bodega that Junior was carried out of by armed gang members had officially become the first ‘safe haven bodega,’ equipped with safety and panicequipment to prevent there being another incident like Junior’s.

That’s something that Junior’s mother had advocated for since August of last year.

During Diaz’s State of the Borough address on Thursday, February 21 he announced the opening of ‘Camp Junior’ at Harriman State Park in Rockland County.

It’s going to be a no fee, two-week, sleep-away camp for any child from the Bronx, formally opening this summer, operated by the Fresh Air fund in honor and memory of Lesandro Junior Guzman-Feliz.

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