Black Lives Matter. No Justice, No Peace. Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.
Enough is Enough.
These were the chants heard throughout West Islip Monday evening as hundreds of people lined the sidewalk along Higbie Lane in West Islip to peacefully protest the killing of George Floyd and show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Many of the cars driving past the demonstration beeped in support, some cars even showed off their own protest signs.
However, the protestors were met with a couple of instances of aggression from opposers passing by — including one driver who appeared to have sped up his car in an attempt to scare or strike protestors that had surrounded it.
The man was reported by people at the rally to have been detained by the police. GreaterBayShore received a video of the incident by an anonymous protestor at the scene. Warning: The video below contains graphic content. Viewer’s discretion advised:
Last month, Floyd, 46, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis sparking nationwide protests against police brutality.
The protests made their way to Long Island, where on June 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., a protest was held alongside the busy road.
The crowd chanted the names of the black men and women that have been killed by law enforcement. This included Breonna Taylor, 26, who was killed by police in her own home in March.
At the end of the protests, a moment of silence was held for eight minutes and 46 seconds: the amount of time Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed Floyd, dug his knee into Floyd’s neck, leaving Floyd unable to breathe.
Bridget Squitire, one of the protest organizers, said she felt like she needed to do something for the Black Lives Matter cause.
She believed a protest in West Islip would make a significant local impact.
“It didn’t feel enough to be at home, even donating or signing protests and sharing stuff, I wanted to do something locally as well,” Squitire said. “West Islip is my hometown and it’s such a bubble of whiteness — the first step towards justice is popping those bubbles.”
According to the 2019 New York Census, West Islip’s population is 95 percent white.
Squitire said the turnout of the protest was unexpected, but she describes it as a “Barbara Streisand effect.”
“The people who didn’t want it to happen were so outraged by it that they made it even bigger than it would have been, so it’s really amazing,” Squitire said. “It touches my heart to see so many people here to support black people and the movement of Black Lives Matter.”
The organizers of the protests partnered with Helping Hands West Islip and collected non-perishable food items and living essentials to donate to underprivileged families that are struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dawn Hooper, who attended the protest, said in the 1960s she was too young to protest, but was glad that Monday she was able to do so with her daughter beside her.
“I’m so done with the President — excuse me, number 45 — that this is so important for me to be here today, at a peaceful protest,” Hooper said. “We are not animals, and there are a lot of people of all ethnicities who believe the same thing.
“There’s gotta be a change,” she said.
Scroll to see some pictures from today’s protest by Ana Borruto.