From Minneapolis to Mineola protests, some violent, some peaceful, have been held since 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.
Police, according to authorities, were responding to a report of a man attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local shop.
Five Towns Community Center Executive Director K. Brent Hill said that his initial perspective on the protests is the famous Fannie Lou Hamer declaration, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," Hamer, a civil rights leader, spoke those words at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
"The peaceful protestors are pushing the envelope, unfortunately there are bad elements and the looting is not good," Hill said, adding that the time for talk is over and genuine action is needed concerning prison reform, more education on civics to change government policy and how people can get their voice heard, and more sensitivity from the police.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat who represents Inwood and southeastern Queens called for charges to be brought against all the officers who were involved in a prepared statement.
“Once more we grieve with hurt and outrage as we watched yet another black man plead that he cannot breathe,” Meeks stated. “Once more we see captured on camera the unwarranted force that men and women of color routinely suffer under the heel or knee of unrestrained law enforcement.”
Meeks noted that Floyd’s death is one of many indignities that African-Americans have suffered because of skin color. “We are tired of awaiting a world where wearing a hoodie or being pulled over for a traffic stop does not invite undue fear for one’s life,” he said. “We are exhausted of having to coach our children on how to navigate a culture of racism that puts them in danger for no reason other than the color of their skin.”
He said that culture of racism must be “rooted out” and there has to be “real consequences commensurate with the crimes committed by those who abuse their authority,” for change to occur.
A coalition of Nassau County advocacy groups helda protest, “Justice for George Floyd,” outside the Nassau County Legislature and Executive Building in Mineola on Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Over the weekend what were described as peaceful protests were held in Brentwood, Melville, Plainview and Riverhead. A protest is expected to be held by the Mott Avenue train station in Far Rockaway on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Young Progressives of Nassau County and Indivisible of Nassau County, along with the Hempstead NAACP, Freeport/Roosevelt NAACP, the Nassau County chapter of the National Action Network, the Anti-Racism Project and Americans of Pakistani Heritage supported the Mineola rally.
In a prepared statement, Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, lead of Temple Israel of Lawrence and president of the National American Board of Rabbis, expressed sympathy for Floyd’s death but disagreed with the violence at the protests.
“And while our hearts are breaking with the death of another African-American man, we are also pained by the violence that has followed,” Rosenbaum stated. “The angry response of so many is understood and shared, but the violence by some may be understandable but it ultimately must be rejected. If one still hopes for a more just society — as we do — then the healing and change must proceed immediately. To do that, we urge peaceful protest, peaceful confrontation, peaceful advocacy and a peaceful insistence that justice will, it must ‘roll down like waters; righteousness like a mighty stream.’
Those last quoted wordd is the Bible verse most frequently quoted by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King known as Amos 5:24. Amos was an ancient Hebrew prophet.