More than 1,000 Long Island police officers and their supporters gathered in Hauppauge Sunday for a "Back the Blue" rally in which they called for the reelection of President Donald Trump and said they were being unfairly portrayed as "the enemy."
Speakers at the event at Suffolk County’s H. Lee Dennison Building predicted that crime and violence would soar across the region if Trump loses his reelection bid and Democrats are not defeated.
"We saw one party over the last six months totally abandon every single of member of law enforcement," Suffolk Police Benevolent Association president Noel DiGerolamo told the crowd. They "did nothing but vilify the people who went out day after day while they sheltered in place. They made us the enemy. Well, guess what? They are the enemy now."
The event was organized by the Suffolk PBA and other metropolitan area law-enforcement unions, including those that represent Nassau and NYPD police officers. Organizers said the unions behind the rally represent more than 80,000 metropolitan-area officers.
The protests that erupted across the nation after the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis cops have turned police into scapegoats, speakers said, making their jobs and the communities they serve more dangerous.
New York City PBA president Patrick Lynch said communities were being taught that "we are the demons."
The Dennison building’s sprawling parking lot, mostly empty during the weekends, was packed on a crisp autumn afternoon with cars and trucks sporting Trump 2020 flags, thin blue line flags and American flags. Some protesters clutched star-shaped balloons that said "Back the Blue" and signs with slogans such as "God Bless the Police."
"We are living in the time of pro-criminal era, making the cops the bad guys," Nassau PBA president Jim McDermott told the crowd.
The pro-cop protesters booed loudly as speakers blasted Democratic officials, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom they called anti-police.
"We’re taking the blame for bad policies and bad decisions made by our elected officials," Lynch told reporters after he spoke, "but they don’t have the courage to stand up and say, ‘We made a mistake.’"
The daughter of Miosotis Familia, a 12-year NYPD officer who was assassinated in 2017 while sitting in a mobile command unit with her partner in the Bronx, spoke about the pain anti-police sentiment rained down on her family.
"It is so important for me to be here today to talk about her and who she was as a person," Genesis Familia said, "especially since all of these violent attacks that have been taking place around the country on innocent police officers because of their uniform. Just how my mother was targeted for her uniform. And it’s so important to support all of our law-enforcement officers across the country and police officers here in New York and to let them know that we have their back and we will always be there to support them."
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who is not seeking reelection in November, also attended Sunday’s rally, as did several Republicans running for state legislative offices.
Lynch said the world his father had fought for during World War II was disappearing and he urged people to fight to preserve it.
"Yes, we have to vote but we also have to get loud," Lynch said. "We have to go out there and we have to save our jobs. We have to save my city. We have to protect your town."