Hundreds of people lined the sidewalk along routes 112 and 347 in Port Jeff Station to protest the killing of George Floyd and show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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 at 2 p.m. a peaceful protest was held alongside the busy highway. The crowd chanted the names of the men and women that have been killed by law enforcement, while drivers honked in support.
Skyler Johnson, who is a candidate for the New York State Senate in District 1, organized the event. “We’ve seen so many issues of police brutality across the nation for decades,” he said. “We’re out here in Suffolk County voicing how we feel.”
He told GreaterPortJeff that the protest was organized three days ago and had an overwhelming, and positive, response. Police officers from the 6th Precinct set up barricades and police tape to keep protestors safe from vehicle traffic.
“We need civilian oversight… It’s time,” Johnson told the crowd. “How long until someone out here is a trending name on Twitter?”
While everyone wore masks to stay safe, a moment of silence while kneeling was held to honor all the lives that have been lost.
“The system is not failing… the system is working just how it was planned,” he said. “We are told to sound a certain way, behave a certain way, and that’s unacceptable.”
Will Schleisner, who is running for New York State Assembly this November, addressed the crowd. “I have white privilege and it makes a lot of people feel guilty,” he said. “I don’t have to worry like Skyler’s mom about being pulled over and killed… the reality is the system is bad, it’s broken.”
Schleisner added that it’s more than just a police issue. It’s a political issue. “A lot of politicians are quiet on this issue,” he said. “They don’t want to lose their votes. I plan to be different.”
One protestor, Jazmine Kendrick of Selden, took the megaphone to voice how she feels. The 27-year-old lawyer chose a career in law to try and make a difference.
“I want laws that are written for us…. I want to dissemble systematic racism,” she said. “It’s not equal. There’s a reason. These laws are written to make us products of our circumstance, and that’s what white American needs to understand.”
But she was happy with the response the protest got. “I appreciate all my allies that came out today,” she said. “I’m always going to support an ally and I’m never going to put an ally down. I urge any black protestor to support those allies… you give your white brother, your white sister a hug, and you say thank you for coming out here and supporting us because we need you.”
Scroll to see some pictures from today’s protest by Julianne Mosher