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A New Mural Honors DJ Henry at Pace University

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The new mural honoring DJ Henry, a Pace University student athlete who was shot and killed 11 years ago, at the Kessel Student Center at Pace University in Pleasantville. It’s unveiling on Monday kicked off the school’s second annual Social Justice Week.

A striking and vibrant mural of DJ Henry, a Pace University student-athlete shot and killed by a Pleasantville police officer 11 years ago, prominently lights up a large space at the university’s Kessel Student Center.

Unveiling of the mural on Monday kicked off the school’s second annual Social Justice Week as students, alumni, staff and faculty gathered to commemorate the slain student.

“This is touching because I can relate to him as a Black male student,” said Jarette Mungin, a Pace graduate student who helped conceive and advocate for the mural.

Mungin addressed about 100 people gathered in the student center just a few feet from the mural.

“What I see when I look at this image of DJ, I don’t see a victim of brutality, I see the love that DJ spread,” Mungin said. “It’s important to educate students to be socially aware of who we are.”

Senior Shea Teague, an English major who was also instrumental in having the mural created, said DJ Henry’s story was one heard too many times.

“The purpose of community is to start with equity so we have justice,” Teague said. “It starts with us.”

The 12-foot-by 8-foot mural was painted by Brittney S. Price, a Los Angeles-based artist known for her visual work representing groups such as Black Lives Matter,, Paint the City Peaceful, We Rise LA and LA Commons. Price said she connected with DJ’s parents before painting the mural.

“They said his smile would light up a room,” Price said. “I was honored to lend my talents.”

Price used shades of blue and gold, Pace’s school colors, to illuminate the work. Symbols of DJ’s life in the mural include a large “12” – his football jersey number – and an image of the Pace clock tower built in 2012 in his memory.

“The story here today is really about the students and their nod to their world,” Pace University President Marvin Krislov said. “What happened to DJ was an unforgettable, unforgivable tragedy but his legacy lives on in the efforts of our students to ensure he is commemorated.”

Junior Kimberly Mars, president of the Student Government Association, said there were numerous meetings to plan and place the mural. She said it was a community effort.

“DJ’s mural is a lasting legacy that represents not only him, but the countless numbers of Black people who have lost their lives through police brutality over the years,” Mars said.

At the unveiling on Monday, Carlton Aiken, a Pace graduate student and the school’s quarterback, told how Pace’s football team retired Henry’s jersey number to honor his life.

“Nothing we can do will bring DJ back,” Aiken said. “But we can keep sharing his story. We all have an obligation to speak up about police brutality and to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

On Oct. 17, 2010, Henry, 20, was fatally shot by Pleasantville Police Officer Aaron Hess as Henry was driving away from the old Finnegan’s, a bar and grill, at the Thornwood Town Center. Hess stepped in front of the moving vehicle, ended up on the hood of the car and shot through the windshield, killing Henry and wounding a passenger.

Hess was never charged. He never returned to the department, immediately went on medical leave and was granted an accidental disability retirement pension of $69,934.

The Henry family sued the Village of Pleasantville in civil court, and in 2016 the family accepted a $6 million settlement. An independent review of Henry’s death and subsequent investigation was announced in June by Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah. Her office will be assisted by a former federal judge.

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