This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Jesse Coburn, Lisa L. Colangelo, Zachary R. Dowdy, Scott Eidler, Antonio Planas and Olivia Winslow. It was written by Dowdy.
Demonstrations, smaller in size but no less heartfelt in spirit, continued on Long Island Monday as protesters expressed their anger over the killing of George Floyd , while officials praised the peaceful nature of the gatherings.
Though there were a few tense moments with passersby, counterprotesters and police, Long Islanders mostly expressed their outrage over the killing of the Minneapolis man in dozens of protests without the violence that had earlier plagued New York City.
Protests went on in Merrick, Lindenhurst and Massapequa, followed by Amityville and Carle Place Monday evening. Their size did not match those of the demonstrations over the weekend, when police were forced to shut down streets and highways. But the emotions on display were still deeply felt.
Both county executives praised the orderly fashion in which the protests have been conducted on Long Island despite the outrage demonstrators said they felt over police brutality and racism.
Just seven protesters came to an event in Merrick, the site of more than 4,000 protesters last week. But a diverse crowd of up to 200 people came to the Carle Place office of state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hempstead), demanding she vote to repeal a controversial police law that allows officers’ personnel records to remain private.
“Black Lives Matter,” they chanted. “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!”
Kaplan in a statement released before the rally pledged to vote to repeal the law known as 50-A, which concerns personnel records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers.
“By fixing this broken rule, we’re only sending a message that all public servants are accountable to the people, and none of us is above the law,” Kaplan said.
At the Supreme Court building in Mineola, the group of about 150 protesters took to one knee and held a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd.
Although some of the chants were aggressively anti-police, by 8 p.m., the protest was orderly and peaceful. The crowd even chanted “peaceful protest” as they made their way through Mineola streets Monday night about 8 p.m.
Irene Ippolito, 57, of Valley Stream, said she was protesting: “I’m here to raise my voice in support of my African American brothers and sisters on Long Island who live in fear a broken tail light can cause them their lives. I want to live in a country where the equal protection of law is reality,” she said.
After stopping at the Supreme Court building, protesters stopped in front of a probation department building in Mineola.
It was there that Terrel Tuosto, 28, of West Hempstead, spoke to demonstrators through a bullhorn and said: “We need the system to change — a complete overhaul of the entire system,” he said. “We need to keep going until we see change,” Tuosto said, promising additional protests.
A diverse cross section of about 100 Long Islanders also gathered at Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Amityville at a Black Lives Matter protest organized by Minority Millennials. They marched to Babylon's Bolden Mack Park, with a police escort.
Harshan Sidana of Hicksville came with several members of his family and said it was important to support the cause. “The more people that come out the better...There’s power in numbers.”
The Rev. Vernon Shelton Sr., pastor of Holy Trinity, said the black church was in been in the forefront of the civil rights movement so he was happy to support a “peaceful protest.” He added, “I don’t believe we can be in the community and not fight for what is right.”
College students Angelina Ziagariello, 20, of Mastuc, and Kayleigh Keller, 20, of Manorville, said they wanted to show their support for protesting against police brutality, and against “the murder of innocent black lives,” Keller added.
As the 100 or so protesters marched, residents who live along the street applauded.
About 20 people stood at the corner of Wellwood and Hoffman avenues in Lindenhurst, holding signs and chanting “Black Lives Matter” as cars drove by and honked in support.
“As a black man in America, it’s important to stand up … it’s time for change,” said Allen Robinson of Amityville. “I have young sons, I have a daughter. I want them to come up in a better world and the only way to make a better world is to step forward and to have your voice heard. This is the time to do so.”
Another small demonstration cropped up in Massapequa on Monday afternoon, with protesters waving signs, banging pots and shouting “Black Lives Matter” into bullhorns.
The peaceful events there and in Merrick received honks of support, but also shouted insults and expletives, from drivers passing by.
“They feel the need to express themselves, which is cool,“ Erik Blam II, one of the Massapequa protest organizers, said of those criticizing the events. “But we’re going to continue to express ourselves too.”
The death of Floyd, a black man who was killed as several Minneapolis police officers held him down on the ground — one of whom was a white officer who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until his body went limp — ignited calls internationally for change in policing and put a spotlight on racism worldwide.