Like many villages and hamlets across Long Island, Freeporters held local protests yesterday against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
About a hundred residents marched along the village streets towards village hall, as they carried signs and chanted “Black Lives Matter,” calling for justice for Floyd and others who have died under police custody.
During the protest, residents shouted for not only these types of deaths to end, but also criticized local business owners who published posts on social media that undermined the validity of the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The protesters were followed along by local and Nassau County police officers.
The Nautical Mile was kept blocked off from the protest path.
Freeporters also joined a nearby protest in Merrick Road, where protesters from Merrick, Baldwin and other nearby villages and hamlets congregated together outside the Trader Joe’s, in Merrick.
Then the demonstrators, brandishing cardboard signs, decided to move the protest into Merrick Road. That was when Nassau County police intervened to stop them, forming a wall of blue two rows deep across the sidewalk outside a Wendy’s to prevent them from moving.
The protesters pleaded with police to let them pass, but the officers would not move. Many protesters knelt on the pavement and implored police to join them. Still, the officers wouldn’t move.
The protesters, most of whom were young people, grew increasingly agitated, believing they were being prevented from exercising their right to free assembly. They were not, however. The police were waiting for more officers to arrive so they could form a human barrier to escort the protesters past a group of about 30 people who stood on the sidewalk roughly 150 feet away shouting, “Tell them to go home!” They also pointed north to the Long Island Rail Road station on Sunrise Highway and said protesters should head there.
Eventually, with dozens of police lined up to escort the protesters along Merrick Road, they continued to move, past the group of angry people shouting at them, to Babylon Turnpike, before circling back to where they started.
“Now that we came here to do what we did, spread the word,” Marian Lopez, of Baldwin, told the crowd. “All of you guys did a great job.”
The protesters then quietly dispersed, some escorted to their cars by police.