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Thousands Take Part in Peaceful Demonstrations Across Queens Friday and Saturday

Black Lives Matter sign (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

June 6, 2020 Staff Report

Large protests against racial injustice went off peacefully across Queens on Friday and Saturday.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets at various locations throughout the World’s Borough – replicating the mass protests seen throughout the country since the killing of George Floyd on May 25.

Hundreds of people marched westward along Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside at around 4 p.m. today shouting Floyd’s name and “black lives matter.” The march came to stop outside a memorial for Floyd that was erected at the corner of Skillman Avenue and 45th Street earlier in the week.

Another protest took place outside Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens at lunchtime. The protesters then marched on Queens Boulevard and quickly swelled in size to over one thousand.

They chanted “no justice, no peace” and arrived at Queensboro Hall at around 3 p.m.

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee spoke to the crowd from the front steps of the building.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of demonstrators turned up at Gantry Plaza State Park at around 11 a.m.

Demonstrators then took a knee or lay for nearly nine minutes in honor of George Floyd. The act represented the length of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck.

A man then sang Oh Freedom, a post-Civil War African-American freedom song, and the names of several African American individuals who were killed by white people were read aloud.

One woman, who was standing in front of a Black Lives Matter Queens sign, spoke to the crowd and demanded cuts to the NYPD budget. She insisted on the money be used to pay for schools and improving the better education.

A large crowd protested outside Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood at 1 p.m. today. The school has drawn criticism for its slow response in condemning the death of George Floyd.

On Friday several peaceful protests were held across western Queens.

The day was particularly significant for protesters as it would have been the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor – a black woman who was shot eight times by police officers in Kentucky earlier this year.

Hundreds gathered at Astoria Park’s World War I memorial on Shore Boulevard to listen to speakers talk and remember Taylor.

A large crowd also attended a vigil at Queensbridge Park at around 6 p.m. Attendees formed a large circle on the grass and placed flowers in the center. Protesters chanted out Taylor’s name 27 times to mark her birthday. Some individuals spoke to the crowd and discussed the importance of fighting for change.

A peaceful protest was also held outside the Long Island City Courthouse in Court Square at around 6:30 p.m.

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Joseph Powell

On June 5, 2020, I participated in the College Point Black Lives Matter demonstration. It seems as if the majority of the protestors could only deal with one major issue at a time. I’ll explain.
I came to College Point, from Flushing, to participate, because BLM is so important to me.This is the 4th demonstration I have attended.
But we are also in the middle of an unprecedented, life threatening pandemic, too; one that kills, and preys on older people, and those with underlying conditions. Today’s College Point protest has been far and away the most selfish one I’ve witnessed, regarding the following the protocol for keeping the spread of Covid-19 at a minimum. In these situations, I always hand out free masks and gloves to people who don’t have. During this march, at least 1/2 of the group, for the entire length of the march, would not wear their masks. Surprisingly, an organizer would not wear a mask. He said that he had asthma, and could not wear a mask. Maybe he did. A few other members, in leadership positions, also didn’t wear masks. When I offered them masks, they abruptly refused the offer, as if I was hassling them, by offering. Most of the younger people (a majority of this demonstration), didn’t wear their masks, a few of them telling me that it was too hot to wear them. Wow, so selfish. To them, it was too much of an inconvenience to be uncomfortable or sweaty on this humid, 30 minute walk, in order to avoid the risk of killing me, or possibly a family member, or cause the city to go back on lockdown.
Even Senator John C Liu, who participated in the demonstration (and gave a short, but effective, inspirational speech before we embarked), couldn’t find it within his abilities to remind everybody how important it still is to wear a mask, (especially in such close quarters with everyone yelling). He wore a mask, but as a role model, he should have shown some wise leadership. Perhaps he didn’t want to offend this part of his constituency!
The protest was small and peaceful, but heartfelt and boisterous. The police were polite and very cooperative.
However, unfortunately, the participants still come up way short when it comes to “community” activism.

Please remember, when you protest,everyone is watching you. Don’t give them reasons to believe your effort. Wear a mask.

Joe Powell

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