By Nakeem Grant
Hall’s Pond Park in West Hempstead was filled with Black Lives Matter demonstrators for a peaceful protest on June 9. Protesters marched down to Nassau Boulevard towards Echo Park, and back up to Hall’s Pond.
Hampton Lamar, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said the reason for this protest was for people to realize the validity of the cause. “There’s no place for negativity in a movement like this,” Lamar said. “Our job right here today is to show how powerful this movement is.”
West Hempstead’s demonstration was one of many to take place in Nassau County this month, with many communities joining in on the Black Lives Matter movement. Nicole Fodera, another co-organizer of West Hempstead’s protest, said that segregation still exists in the community. Fodera recalled that when she attended George Washington School in the West Hempstead School District, she said it was not as diverse as Cornwell Avenue School.
“I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with G.W.,” Fodera said, “but we have to see that even in a town as diverse as West Hempstead was, we still see separation. If anything is separate, it’s not equal. That’s a fact. We are here to call for systemic change.”
U.S. Army veteran Gary Port, of West Hempstead, said that demonstrators have exercised their right of free speech through the protest. “At what point is the promise of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal going to apply to black people?” Port said. “Four hundred years, enough is enough.”
West Hempstead resident Demetri Francis, who graduated from West Hempstead High School in 2012, said he was amazed at the number of protesters who gathered at Hall’s Pond. “That’s a clear message to me that you care about the black people in this community and our brothers and sisters around the globe,” Francis said. “Exposing racism is your light of truth.”
Shua Reinstein, of West Hempstead, said he grew up in the Orthodox-Jewish part of the community. Reinstein, who is biracial, said that residents should not be afraid to speak out on race relations.
“I think I live somewhere where there are a lot of good people who are scared to say that black lives matter,” Reinstein said. “The more people that join, the more we can accomplish. I believe that any movement, no matter how strong and good, it doesn’t get everywhere it could without allies.”