Maria Hernanez Park is located in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Maria Hernandez was a resident of Bushwick and outspoken neighborhood leader in the fight against drugs dealers on her street. Maria was born and raised in Brooklyn. She attended New York University and earned a degree in accounting. She worked as a bookkeeper for a medical management company in New Jersey.
Along with her husband, Maria Hernandez fought to rid their street of the drug dealers that were destroying it. They approached the drug dealers directly and worked with the police for a solution. Maria and her husband worked vigilantly to expose the problem of drugs in their neighborhood by organizing block parties, social, cultural, and athletic activities with the goal of educating and uniting her neighbors in the struggle to rid the streets of drug dealers.
Maria Hernandez, a wife, mother of three children, and community activist, was gunned down in her own home on August 8, 1989. Five bullets hit Mrs. Hernandez as shots were fired from outside through the window of her home. William Figueroa, a 26-year old heroin dealer was arrested, and charged with her death. Police believed that two other men were involved with the shooting.
People like Maria Hernandez, and her husband, are the unsung heroes of communities all over the country. They typically don’t get the media attention or wide-range support as some public figures do. However, they continue to fight for what causes they passionately believe in. It’s unfortunate that Maria Hernandez’s life was taken before her fellow community members and law enforcement made the necessary changes to improve the neighborhood. However, I don’t believe she died in vain. The neighborhood is cleaner, and safer than it was in 1989, and I think Maria Hernandez would be pleased to see the families playing in the park dedicated in her memory.