Opinions & observations: Protesting the demonstrators: Conflict in the streets over support of police
This past Sunday evening (7/12), a pro-police march and rally took place along Fourth Avenue from 75th Street to 65th Street. At the same time, a counter-protest demonstration by the group known as Black Lives Matter had approximately 300 participants. During the first outing, the paths of the two groups didn’t cross one another. Then the BLM protesters unexpectedly crashed the pro-police rally under the shadow of the Bay Ridge Towers, at 65th Street and 4th Avenue. While the police struggled to keep the protesters from infiltrating and interfering with the rally, they were clearly outnumbered.
The national BLM movement reportedly advocates for non-violent civil disobedience but that is no excuse for the malicious behavior of about two dozen members of the regional BLM group that helped turn a peaceful protest march into a mob scene. As NYPD officers stood shoulder to shoulder, the misguided literally got into their faces, less than six inches apart jeered and taunted them. One of the female protesters had a small toy pink pig she kept squeezing for the squealing sound it made. Led by one of the female organizers shouting through a bullhorn, she had her followers calling out repeatedly to the cops, “F (bombing) bastards.” To add insult to injury and to show how radical this regional BLM group was, they burned an American Flag!
I am a born and lifelong resident of Bay Ridge and have never seen this community torn apart and divided as today. Years ago elected officials like former city Councilmembers like Angelo Arculeo (R) Sal Albanese (D) and Vinny Gentile (D) and State Senators Bill Conklin (R), Chris Mega (R), Joe Montalto (D) Bob DiCarlo (R) and Marty Golden (R) improved the quality of life here and were strong defenders of the NYPD and even occasionally gave them discretionary funds for bulletproof vests and scooters. They never voted for defunding the NYPD like our current councilmember, nor did they condone or encourage the type of protests like we are seeing today.
The Saturday afternoon pro-police procession and rally in Dyker Heights had a small group of BLM protesters make some noise at the start of the rally but quickly fold their signs and leave. This rally was organized by the Conservative and Republican parties, but included Democrats too. One of the most prominent was former and veteran Democratic leader Ralph Perfetto. There were civic leaders, members of the clergy, retired civil servants, veterans and NYS Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, former State Sen. Marty Golden and State Senatorial Candidate Victor Bruno.
I have serious concern with the number of people who weren’t wearing face masks at the pro-police rallies and among the protesters, and yes, even some cops. Why take the risk of being hospitalized or dying or bringing COVID-19 home to your families and loved ones? It was a real challenge while covering these events to avoid coming in contact with them.