Three protesters were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon at a Black Lives Matter rally in Commack after they entered Veterans Memorial Highway, Suffolk police said.
Authorities did not provide any additional information about the three demonstrators, including their identities and what charges they could face.
“Approximately 30 people attended a Black Lives Matter protest on Veterans Memorial Highway,” police said in an emailed statement. “Police warned protesters not to enter the roadway multiple times. Three protesters stopped traffic and were arrested.”
Demonstrators with the group, Long Island Peaceful Protest, said the marchers had crossed the eastbound lanes on Veterans Memorial Highway while some were in a median about to head westbound when Suffolk police on bicycles and in marked vehicles descended on the group.
Officers then quickly detained and handcuffed two demonstrators, witnesses said.
“We were literally just crossing the street. We came to the intersection, … we were at a crosswalk, as we got off the crosswalk, they swarmed us,” said Gabrielle Leparik, 26, of Huntington. “They just stopped their cars in the middle of the street. They were obstructing traffic.”
Demonstrators had only minutes earlier left a business’ parking lot, at 68 Veterans Memorial Highway, before the protesters were taken into custody shortly before 6 p.m., witnesses said. Officers took a third demonstrator into custody a short time later, the witnesses said. The demonstrators had gathered in Commack, and while they support the Black Lives Matter movement, were specifically trying to raise awareness to desegregate Long Island, protesters said.
A 1-minute video posted on Instagram, shows three officers restraining and attempting to assist in the arrest of a protester. The camera then zooms in on another protester as two officers approach him, one from behind, the other from the front. One officer grabs the man by the front of his purple dress shirt as they attempt to handcuff him, the video shows. He then repeatedly asks, “What am I being detained for?”
As officers handcuffed the man, Leparik is heard asking, “What are you detaining him for? Tell us. What’s going on?”