Rita Joseph, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Councilmember Farah N Louis held a press conference Flatbush on Wednesday in response to the assassination of the country's president. Photo: Supplied.

The world is still in shock following the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse, who was shot in his home a little after 1:00am on Wednesday.

An armed group gained entry to Moïse’s residence on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince by claiming to be U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and then stormed the property, killing him and wounding his wife, Martine Moïse, The New York Times reports. Martine Moïse is reportedly in stable but critical condition, and was sent to Miami for treatment.

When police responded to the gunfire a hostage situation ensued, where four suspects were killed. Another two have been arrested, including one Haitian American, The New York Times reports.

Haitian officials reported the attack was taken out “by well-trained professionals, killers, commandos” that spoke Spanish and English, leading to many accusations of foreign involvement as Haiti’s main languages are French and Creole.

Who killed Moïse and why are still unknown, but what is certain is that the assassination has thrown the country which was already suffering from violence and unrest has been thrown into further turmoil.

The nation’s interim prime minister Claude Joseph, who was due to be replaced this week, is acting as the new head of the government. He declared a “state of siege” and placed Haiti under a form of martial law, while calling for calm in the country.

In Brooklyn, where there is a large number of Haitian immigrants, political leaders were quick to respond to the news.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who is Haitian-American, said she was saddened by the “horrific events that occurred in Haiti, which follow an unstable period for the country, which failed to hold free and fair elections.”

“I pray for the Moïse family as they mourn their loss. I also pray for the security and peace of Haiti,” she said. “Haiti has always been resilient. We fought and gained our independence in 1804 and our people continue to break barriers and reach new heights across the globe.”

She said her hope was for Haiti to overcome the turbulent time, hold a democratic election and recover as a country.

Councilmember Farah N. Louis said she was “heartbroken” over the attack, “while an entire nation compounded by health and political crises grows weary about their future.”

“The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse was a cowardly act and a misguided attempt to resolve systemic issues faced by several administrations,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the violence that took place overnight will likely perpetuate fear and deepen divisions that have delayed progress for people who have longed for change and peace.”

She added no matter political allegiances, force could not be relied on to restore security and stability. “Our resilient spirit is the essence of who we are and how we can rebuild a nation that withstood so much devastation by working more collaboratively with the brilliant, young minds who can help envision a more equitable future,” she said.

She said although the transition of power was critical, the loss of life could not be overlooked.

“As the daughter of Haitian immigrants, I am praying for the recovery of First Lady Martine Moïse and strength for the affected family, including three children, as they begin to cope with this devastating tragedy.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams offered prayers of peace and comfort to the family of Moïse and his wife Martine, as well as to the Haitian people on the island and throughout the diaspora. He said the attack was “on not just a person, but a nation.”

“Violence is not a solution to the discord and pain that Haiti is experiencing, it will only perpetuate them,” he said.

“As the world watches – a world which was eager to appear before cameras in the wake of natural disaster but long ago abandoned the work of recovery – we pray for the people still suffering, and we all must follow our prayers and posts with assistance.”

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, along with fellow co-chairs of the House Haiti Caucus, said Moïse’s assassination was “a horrific act and stands as a clarion call for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to a nation in crisis” and the group called for an independent investigation into the attack.

“We remain committed, more than ever, to working diligently alongside the Biden Administration in support of ushering in an equitable, inclusive Haitian-led democracy,” the co-chairs said.

“One that reestablishes rule of law, reinforces institutions of Haitian-led governance, and centers the safety and human rights of every Haitian citizen.”


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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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