Two demonstrations on Long Island Sunday afternoon drew supporters as months of activism over racism and policing continue and the country enters the homestretch of a hard-fought presidential election.
A caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump drove cars, trucks and motorcycles through Northport, East Northport and Huntington, cheered on by onlookers who waved American flags and chanted "four more years."
Meanwhile, in Brentwood, around 50 protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor and other victims of police brutality at a peaceful rally organized by the Suffolk County Democratic Socialists of America, Black Long Island and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
The event came days after a grand jury in Kentucky indicted a former police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor, a Black woman, in her Louisville apartment in March. Two other officers involved have not faced charges, which has outraged activists and spurred further protests across the country over police violence toward African Americans.
In Brentwood on Sunday, William Moss, president of the Islip Town NAACP, held a sign that read "Say Her Name."
"This is the pinnacle of negligence on behalf of the police and the criminal justice system," Moss said. "So we’re here to make sure she gets that justice. That the voices of everyone across the country are heard. There needs to be justice for Breonna Taylor’s killing."
Kristen George, 37, of Brentwood said she decided to attend because she has faced discrimination in the workplace.
"With everything going on in the community, we had to come out and stand together," she said. "Hopefully it will make an impact — not just with police departments, but with school districts and housing and everything else affected by this discrimination."
Police officers on the scene asked protesters to remain on the sidewalk, but said they would escort them should they want to cross the road.
"We’re here to protect your First Amendment rights," one state trooper said.
Hundreds of people joined the pro-Trump rally in Northport, East Northport and Huntington, which participants described as a peaceful, positive expression of support for the President.
"It has been an uplifting experience," said Anna Marie Matteo of Huntington. "All of these people are here for the same reason. We think this election coming up is one of the most important of my lifetime."
Matteo said she previously was a Democrat, having cast her first vote for President John F. Kennedy. But she said the party has moved away from her political positions, leaving her to become a Republican instead.
"I like the values that I grew up with, and I hope they remain the values of the United States," she said.
Jack DelPonte, at 14 years old, was one of the younger Trump supporters on hand. The Huntington teen wore a Trump pin on his T-shirt, a mask emblazoned with the American flag, and a hat and socks bearing the president's slogan: "Make America Great Again."
"It's definitely very important that young people get out and show that they're interested in politics," he said. "No matter what side that they're on."
William Simpson of Huntington attended the rally with his family. While the event also brought out opponents of the president, Simpson said he respected their decision to publicly express their opinions.
"It's basically what I believe America should be: everyone together no matter what you believe," he said.
With Morgan Campbell