On Sunday, more than 1,000 people gathered at Wantagh High School to show their support for law enforcement officials as part of the Blue Lives Matter movement. As the crowd marched down Wantagh Avenue toward the Seaford Long Island Rail Road station, a modest contingent of counterdemonstrators shadowed it, but the event was peaceful, despite some confrontational overtones.
Wantagh and Seaford are home to a sizable number of active and retired law enforcement officials and their supporters, and that support was evident. The communities are also more than 90 percent white, according to datausa.io, a U.S. Census database.
Accompanied by Nassau County Police officers, demonstrators crowded the streets, carrying placards with slogans like “Blue Lives Matter,” “Back the Blue” and “Defund de Blasio,” a reference to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s proposals to trim law enforcement expenditures in the city. They also carried a variety of banners, several versions of the American flag, the New York Police Department flag and the “thin blue line” flag. Some rode motorcycles, while others rode bicycles. One supporter even sat astride a mule.
While some of the marchers wore personal protective equipment, the majority appeared to forgo both masks and social distancing.
Parents of serving law enforcement officers attended the march, too. One held a sign that read, “My son matters too,” while another read “Proud parent of a officer.”
“Today in Wantagh, thousands came out to show support for police officers,” Seaford resident and Hempstead Town Councilman Christopher Carini — a former member of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department — wrote in support of the marchers. “It takes special individuals to leave their families to risk their lives to keep others safe. These brave men and woman are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, our friends and neighbors.”
Carini pointed out that in addition to their work as law enforcement officers, many serve their communities as Little League coaches, volunteer firefighters and community volunteers.
“The actions of the Minneapolis police officers implicated in the death of George Floyd were sickening and disgusting,” Carini wrote. “They do not reflect the men and women in blue. Police officers make sure that our families can live in peace and be safe. I stand with Long Islanders and law enforcement.”
The demonstration shut down streets for several hours. It took nearly a half-hour for the full procession to pass.
Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter supporters met near the Seaford LIRR station, where the march ended. Some inflammatory remarks were hurled back and forth, but there were no reports of violence on either side.