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Demonstrators in Plainview protest against racism, police brutality

Demonstrators march on South Oyster Bay Road in

Demonstrators march on South Oyster Bay Road in Plainview on Sunday as protests around the country continue over the death Monday of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police. Credit: Corey Sipkin

A few hundred protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement marched along South Oyster Bay Road in Plainview on Sunday to decry racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Protesters on Sunday held signs and chanted “I can’t breathe,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” “no justice, no peace,” and “justice for George.”

Floyd died Monday, May 25, while being arrested by Minneapolis police.

The protest remained peaceful while Nassau County police cars and officers lined the street and told demonstrators they were free to protest, but to keep moving on the sidewalk.

“Everyone around the country today has to do something. It’s important for everyone, not just in cities, to speak out,” Mike Sherov, 38, of Plainview said. "Everyone everywhere should be up in arms. This is the least we can do.”

Pierre Etienne, 37, of Plainview, said he was glad to see a peaceful protest without violence while the crowd expressed their message. 

“You have a voice. It’s the most important part of this country, being out there and being productive,” Etienne said. “This is a very peaceful and honest rally. Police been great. Police have always been great. It’s not about anti-police. It’s to get everyone’s attention. There’s a problem. We have to change the problem.”

Many cars that drove by Sunday afternoon honked in support, though one unidentified truck decorated in “Trump 2020” signs, drove up and down the  street as a counter protest.

Tommy Price, 51, of Hicksville, was not counter protesting, but stood by watching the protest wearing a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat. He said he came to the Staples shopping center to protect businesses from looting. 

“We’re here to make sure violence doesn’t go into our stores and protect the police,” Price said. “It’s a peaceful rally and they’re entitled to their opinions.”

At Stotzky Park in Riverhead, members of the community gathered at 1 p.m. at what Riverhead Town officials described in a message to residents as a "sanctioned" event and organizers "assured a peaceful protest."

The message from the Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar's office noted that a 3 p.m. "Black Lives Matter" event, in downtown Riverhead, was "unsanctioned."

At that event over 300 chanting demonstrators peacefully marched through downtown Riverhead carrying signs with messages such as "I Can't Breathe" and "Power in Unity."

At Stotzky Park, people held signs with messages, including: "Black Lives Matter," "White Silence is Violence," and "Am I Next? Stop Killing Black People."

Arthor Faber, one of the protest organizers, said it was important to discuss the events in Minneapolis. "We need to discuss it, because if we don't discuss it, and we don't talk about it, what ends up happening is problems and misdeeds end up repeating themselves because we don't acknowledge it."

"Our position is not violence, our position is not to burn things down, or to break things apart," he said. "The position that we have, by gathering together is to make known that we love each other. And we even love those who try to oppress us, all people."

On Sunday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone noted in his daily news briefing that county protests over the weekend had been peaceful. He thanked demonstrators and police for keeping it that way.

“The mission of the Suffolk County Police Department is the same in that they’re out there working to make sure, as [protesters are] expressing their rights, frustration and anger … They’re working to keep those individuals safe."

Bellone condemned the violence at protests across the country, saying it undermined the protesters’ message. Violence “has the effect of taking attention away from the change people are fighting for and the change people want to see. At the end of the day it is about reform,” Bellone said.

Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron noted in the briefing that “Our officers are very well trained to handle protests. Everything has gone very peacefully.”

With Rachelle Blidner, Scott Eidler, James Carbone and Randee Daddona.