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OpinionColumnistsRita Ciolli

Ted Nugent off the guest list for law enforcement rally

A rally to support law enforcement planned for Saturday afternoon in Eisenhower Park blew up in the faces of its organizers Friday after musician Ted Nugent — known for his racist, sexist and anti-Semitic views — was forced off the program. Nugent, who was scheduled to sing the national anthem, had been heavily promoted on pro-cop social media sites.

On Friday morning, Kyle Reyes, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, touted the rally and Nugent on Fox News, saying that upward of 10,000 people would attend the event. “Literally, people are flying in from sea to sea,” said Reyes, calling it the nation’s largest gathering in support of police.

Reyes’ remarks about the crowd further alarmed Nassau County officials, who had tried for days to stop Nugent’s appearance, including a threat to have him quarantined. Here’s what went down. 

The rally, which is still scheduled to go on, was organized by Law Enforcement Officers Weekend. The non-profit is headed by Aaron Glickman, an NYPD member from Nassau County. The group finally pulled the plug on Nugent’s appearance Friday afternoon.:

“Ted Nugent will not be performing, speaking, or otherwise participating in the pro law enforcement demonstration tomorrow at Eisenhower Park,” the group confirmed in a statement on its Facebook page. “The purpose of this demonstration is to bring people together in support of the men and women of law enforcement. While we wholeheartedly appreciate anyone who supports the men and women in blue, including Mr. Nugent, the controversy over his appearance is contrary to the objectives of the demonstration.”

Not exactly a denunciation of Nugent’s abhorrent views the group would have embraced with his presence.

Suffolk PBA head Noel DeGerolamo, whose group promoted the event, went a little further, saying Nugent's views “are not representative of our organization and we certainly do not condone his many distasteful public comments.” 

The Nassau PBA, which was under heavy political pressure to stop Nugent’s appearance, had a more forceful denunciation. “We do not and will not condone his remarks and views, and have advised the event’s organizers that we will not participate in or support any rally that he attends. Mr. Nugent does not represent the sentiments held by countless Nassau County residents who support law enforcement while many sit idly by or even act against us,” said Nassau PBA President James McDermott in a statement.

However, the PBA’s late-to-the-altar criticism of Nugent is unlikely to soothe the anger of many Nassau leaders.

“While we are glad that the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association came to its senses and publicly disavowed its support for this event, we remain deeply troubled by their decision to use official PBA social media platforms to support and promote the participation of such a bigoted, divisive individual,” Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said in a statement

Intense political pressure had been building since Thursday on local police groups to stop Nugent’s appearance. What’s more, local elected officials who  planned to attend the event were getting nervous about appearing with him.

Meanwhile, the administration of County Executive Laura Curran was telling local event organizers that Nugent would have to observe New York’s 14-day COVID-19 quarantine as would Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins, a friend of Nugent who invited him to the rally. Higgins, who calls wearing face masks a denial of liberty and part of the “dehumanization of the children of God,” was expected to fly to New York with the musician. Higgins was fired as local sheriff in his home state when a video of him spewing racist remarks was made public.

If threatening to have Nugent and Higgins stopped at the airport and be required to quarantine was not enough to make them reconsider, Nassau was not permitting a sound truck or any other stage or platform in the park. The state has banned large gatherings. The “Back the Blue” rally in the county would be treated the same as those of  Black Lives Matters demonstrators. That meant confining the group to a 5-K walking and jogging road around the East Meadow park.