Residents from all over Long Island and New York City gathered today at Freeport’s Northeast Park to celebrate Juneteenth and march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement to end police brutality.
The event, organized by the local chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, had protesters march throughout Freeport as they chanted for justice for not only George Floyd, who’s death in May sparked ongoing protests, but also justice for local victims of alleged police brutality.
Rachel Hu, of the PSL, said that Floyd’s death had reopened people’s eyes to not only police brutality, but also made them aware of the systems in place to keep minorities across the nation and on Long Island oppressed.
“His death was the boiling point that made people say that they’ve had enough,” Hu said. “The mask over the system is being pulled off, and people are seeing the truth.”
Rev. Arthur Mackey Jr., of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, in Roosevelt, said the mixing of Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement was an important symbol this year as it echoed the call for equality for black Americans.
Like he’s done so in previous protests, Mackey urged for accountability in local policing as he asked for justice for Akbar Rodgers, a Freeport man who was captured on video being wrestled to the ground and punched and kicked by Freeport Village police officers during his arrest in December.
“Juneteenth is a day of freedom, and we’ll make sure to continue moving forward, not backwards,” Mackey said. “We won’t stop protesting until those officers are arrested, charged and convicted.”
Terrel Tuotso, of Hemsptead, joined the protest despite having been arrested in a heated incident with police earlier this week at a protest in East Meadow. Tuotso said Long Island needed to acknowledge and address its racist roots that caused it to be one of the most segregated suburbs in the country.
“We need to examine ourselves and recognize that racism does exist here,” Tuotso said. “We shouldn’t shy away from it or deny it. It’s here.”