Tensions rise at Merrick protest; peaceful events held in Long Beach, Freeport

The crowd was made of largely of young people, but longtime Long Beach residents Steve and Anita Jacobson say they were excited to see people standing up for justice and demanding equal rights.

News 12 Staff

Jun 2, 2020, 9:16 PM

Updated 1,414 days ago

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A day largely of peaceful protests on Long Island was interrupted by some tense moments between protesters and police in Merrick.
The event featured a group of dozens of protesters who tried walking down Merrick Road, but were stopped by police.
Protesters say police called their attempt a safety issue. A block away, a group of community members stood upset over a social media post, suggesting demonstrators might be violent.
Nassau police spent nearly an hour deciding if and how to let protesters walk down the road while the group remained staunch in their opposition.
In the end, the group was allowed to walk down about four blocks, with the community group in tow shouting their displeasure. Police then turned them around and headed back to where they started.
 
No violence or arrests occurred.
At the request of the group, one officer out of the group did take a knee, but the remainder did not.
Earlier in the day and into the evening, protests were held in Long Beach, where a crowd of about 200 came out to voice opposition to the death of George Floyd and police brutality.
 VIDEO: Tense moments at Merrick protest
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The crowd was made of largely young people, but longtime Long Beach residents Steve and Anita Jacobson say they were excited to see people standing up for justice and demanding equal rights.
"It absolutely means change. They don't see race. They go to school with black and white and every other color. And they don't care," says Anita Jacobson.
The protest in front of City Hall was loud and energized, but remained peaceful -- as did another protest in Freeport.
About 100 people walked through the village to the Freeport police station, carrying signs and chanting, with police following along.
The group says what they're fighting for is pretty simple.
"Fighting for peace. For unity. To end racism," says Martha Malave.
"I've been dealing with institutional racism all my life. I wake up every morning looking at my face and I have to deal with it. You have no idea what I'm dealing with," says G. Dewey Smalls.
Some protesters say they brought their children along to use this as a teachable moment. Freeport's Gary Gentles says he's been watching the news with his two boys.
"I tell them I need them to experience the real world for themselves. When you're out here I can't protect you so at an early age I can bring you and show you how to move," says Gentles.
So far, in the past several days, just one protest across the Island has resulted in property damage or arrests -- two people were arrested in Shirley Monday night.
Hundreds also marched in Huntington, and stopped outside Tutto Pazzo restaurant, where its owner was seen on Facebook Live making disparaging remarks toward protesters on Monday.
PHOTOS: George Floyd Protests in BK
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