Score one for the organizers, government officials and the Nassau and New York City police departments as the Far Rockaway George Floyd protest on Tuesday was as peaceful and supportive as any nonviolent rallies have been in the past week.
“Yes, very peaceful,” said Moshe Brandsdorfer, a Woodmere resident who is the executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Rockaway Peninsula, a group that endorsed and attended the protest. “Councilman Donovan Richards warned all visitors from outside the Rockaways that this [march] will be peaceful and they won’t stand for looting or destroying property. He set the tone for the protest. He thanked the JCCRP and Jewish community for coming out in support.”
Richards spoke through a megaphone and exhorted the crowd that numbered more than 2,000, according to officials to show how Far Rockaway can have a peaceful protest.
With the backdrop being violence and looting at some protests, including across New York City, the villages of Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst and Lawrence took precautionary steps to enhance security with the safety of their residents in mind.
Atlantic Beach increased patrols and Cedarhurst and Lawrence declared states of emergency and put in place a curfew from 7 p.m. on Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday. New York City’s curfew began at 8 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m. It runs through June 7.
“I want to thank NCPD, Atlantic Beach Rescue, and the Atlantic Beach Bridge Authority for all working together in protecting our Atlantic Beach community,” Atlantic Beach Mayor George Pappas posted on Facebook. “I spent the evening with some really great people that really care about our village. The best thing about the night was we saw a peaceful protest in honor of the wrongful death of George Floyd. The leaders in Far Rockaway planned and demonstrated in a way we should all be proud.”
Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said that county and law enforcement officials recommended to the villages that declaring a state of emergency and having a curfew could curtail trouble.
“It was a defensive mechanism that we did in consultation with the police, we acted with an abundance of caution,” Weinstock said, adding that the protest was “totally peaceful, there was no incidents I heard of, it was very well managed by the organizers. The agitation we were concerned about never materialized.”
Lawrence Mayor Alex Edelman noted that before the protest march got under way there was much communication with other elected officials ranging from Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat who represents southeastern Queens and Inwood, State Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, a Democrat who represents the Rockaways, Richards, the village mayors, along with NYPD and NCPD.
“I’m just glad it worked out well and it was peaceful,” Edelman said. “People have the right to demonstrate, the right to express themselves, but that cop had no right to put his leg on that man. This a good lesson for all us and for the officers.”
Edelman was referring to the Memorial Day death of Floyd, 46, an African-American man who died after a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes before he stopped speaking or moving. Floyd’s death has sparked nationwide protests.
Police, according to authorities, were responding to a report of a man attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local shop.
Chauvin is now charged with murder second-degree and the three other officers on the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder second-degree.