Local protests continue from Freeport to Merrick


Hundreds of local residents gathered at the Freeport Long Island Rail Road station today to march into Merrick as they continued to protest for the Black Lives Matters movement and justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

The protest shutdown parts of Sunrise Highway as police guided the protesters.  They took a detour into the Nautical Mile. 

Andrea Neal, 22, of Valley Stream, organized the event after she saw videos of residents standing against Black LIves Matters protesters in Merrick last week.  

Neal, who’s attended several protests on Long Island and Manhattan, said she wanted to stand in solidarity with the local residents and their peaceful protests. 

“Things have to change,” Neal said. “I don’t want to see neighbors taunting each other. This is a peaceful protest, and it’s bigger than Floyd and the four officers in his case. This is about all the stories that have gone unheard and all those who have yet to find justice from police brutality.” 

The protestors chanted Floyd’s name, along with other victims like Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice, and shouted “No Justice, No Peace,” by the railroad station. 

I’nyaah Burrell, who grew up in Freeport, said she was glad the protests were continuing this week. She said that while similar protests have come and gone in the past, these protests were here to stay. 

“We’re not stopping until we see real change across all platforms of law enforcement,” Burrell said. 

“Floyd’s death was a catalyst to bring to light all these injustices to everyone,” added Julianna Codispoti, of Bellmore. “We’re already beginning to see some changes, so we have to keep going.” 

G. Dewey Smalls, the vice president of the National Action Network Nassau County Chapter, said the movement’s growth is now worldwide, as is apparent by the marches of solidarity all over the world. He said he was especially moved by murals of Floyd painted throughout Europe and the Middle East. 

While Smalls said the national movement was important, he noted that Freeporters also needed to look at local cases, such as that of 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.

“Why did we see this excessive force being used against him,” Smalls said. “The officers involved have yet been brought to justice. It’s unacceptable.” 

Freeport Village Police Chief Ray Horton said village and county police officers were guiding the protestors to make sure they could march peacefully and exercise their First Amendment rights.