On June 22, 2017, tragedy hit a small Bellport, NY, neighborhood. Christopher Bouchard killed two young Black men, 19-year-old Keenen King and 20-year-old Anthony Holmes-Garriques, by driving a minivan directly into their bodies. Witnesses say that Christopher Bouchard, who is white, crossed to the wrong side of the road and sped up to around 100 mph to hit the two young men as they were slowing down the dirt bike they were riding.
Why? Christopher Bourchard and his brother Brian, who was also in the minivan, believed the dirt bike the young men were riding belonged to Brian. After calling the police and being told not to take action, Christopher actively and fatally ignored them. Instead, the brothers appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner–over a dirt bike. With the bodies of Keenen and Anthony laying in the street, Christopher and Brian Bouchard sped away with the dirt bike.
Keenan and Anthony’s families, and activists across Long Island, NY, are asking all concerned people to lend their support in getting some measure of justice. They are asking people to help them hold the court accountable by signing a petition demanding the maximum penalty for Christopher Bouchard, who is to be sentenced Oct. 12.
Killer first charged with a misdemeanor
Christopher Bouchard was at first charged with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor often reserved for drunk driving. Brian Bouchard was not charged at all. The District Attorney did not even reach out to the families of Keenen and Anthony until pressured by the community.
Bellport, a majority Black neighborhood, decided to fight back. The friends and families of Keenen and Anthony wouldn’t accept a charge that didn’t even recognize the humanity of the victims. Against a vast complicated bureaucracy that never asked for the people’s input, the little town of Bellport rallied to have its voice heard. And activists from all over Long Island began to gather around that outcry.
Vigils mourned the deceased, and rallies called for justice. Over months, neighbors and people from all over Long Island banded together to petition for stronger charges, and to raise awareness.
On Aug 3, 2017, community members and activists, carrying signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” and “Justice for Keenen and Anthony,” rallied outside the Central Islip court where Christopher was appearing. Through their grief and pain, the community demanded–and won– an upgrade in the charges to second degree manslaughter, which carries a sentence of three and a half to to 10 years. Christopher Bouchard then pled guilty to the charges.
Out of fear that he would be found not guilty if tried, the families of Keenen and Anthony reluctantly supported the plea deal, keenly aware that even this charge did not reflect the grave and horrendous killing of two people. Lina Garriques, the mother of Anthony, said, “It’s murder, it’s murder. I’ve been saying from the start it’s murder. He [Bouchard] ain’t got no heart. A bike can be replaced. My son can’t be replaced. I can’t never get him back.”
The fight is not over. Bouchard is to be sentenced on Oct.12. Now is the time to push for a maximum sentence. Let us make it known that the lives of two young men are worth more than a misdemeanor. Let us make it known that we can fight back.