Members of Community Board 7 are anxiously awaiting the City Council’s decision on whether it will approve legislation to rename a section of 28th Avenue, between College Point Boulevard and Ulmer Street, in memory of former NYPD Officer Phillip Cardillo.
In a letter to Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), sent last November, CB7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman requested the council adopt an “A.K.A. Rider” to rename a portion of 28th Avenue “P.O. Phillip Cardillo Way,” after the slain officer.
“I proudly stand with Community Board 7 as we prepare to dedicate a section of 28th Avenue, in front of the new Police Academy, in honor of Officer Phillip Cardillo, who lost his life in the line of duty,” Vallone said in a statement. “Now as this academy prepares to open, generations of new officers can look to the sign as a reminder of his legacy to the department.”
Cardillo’s death – one of the more controversial unsolved cases in the department’s history – occurred on April 14, 1972, when the 31-year-old father of three responded to a phony 911 call at the Nation of Islam Mosque in Harlem.
Upon arrival at the mosque, responding officers said they were attacked, beaten and stripped of their firearms by the congregation. It was during the scrum that Cardillo was shot at point-blank range with his own weapon. He died from his gunshot wounds six days later.
Police subsequently arrested the people inside the mosque, however due to political mismanagement, all of the suspects were released and all the officers were ordered out of the building.
The incident would soon spark a firestorm of racially-charged criticism against the cops and elected officials, over what then-minister of the Harlem mosque Louis Farrakhan called an “invasion.”
In years that followed, Community Board 10 in Manhattan floated the idea of renaming a part of 116th Street after Cardillo, but reneged out of worry that it would open old wounds.
“It’s been 43 years and they haven’t named so much as the cap of a fire hydrant for him,” said Dave Fischer, a retired NYPD officer.
For the past four decades, Fisher has led the charge to honor Cardillo and said he was elated to learn that Vallone is taking a stand to get a street named for the slain officer once and for all.
“We’re all fighting for this,” Fischer said. “We want no one to ever forget this.”