Over 1,000 protesters march in Smithtown; groups look toward the future in Islip, West Hempstead
As George Floyd was laid to rest Tuesday, some Long Island protesters aimed to make sure he didn't die in vain.
Around 500 demonstrators filled the sidewalks on Main Street in Smithtown Tuesday evening.
As protesters walked four miles toward Route 347, the rally more than doubled in size.
The group echoed sentiments from many other demonstrations of a need for racial equality and police reform.
In West Hempstead, hundreds from different walks of life stood together -- each for their own reasons, like protecting their families.
"We are marching for our sons … we're marching for the black men in our lives," says Elda Gedeon.
For others, it's about fighting for what is right.
"There is a lot of systematic injustice that is going on for a very long time in American history. We haven't yet dismantled that entire system. We want to make it better," says Sidney Bader.
The group said its very own diversity will help them accomplish change.
"It's a very mixed crowd which I'm really happy about," says Monica Cleare. "I think we're looking for a change and I think this time around we are going to make a change. We're going to make a difference."
Protesters in Islip Tuesday night said it is time to shift the focus from what happened in the past to what needs to happen in the future.
Those in attendance say there needs to be change to the way police departments work, especially in minority communities. They say they're watching what's happening at the state level closely regarding new legislation.
"I don't imagine defunding the police or taking away their money," says Katie Sarisohn, of Commack. "I just think we should reimagine it. Like give them more training, more education, more tools."
Cars driving by showed their support for the Islip group with constant horn honking.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo voiced his thoughts on where the movement goes from here as well.
"My opinion what we should think about going forward - this is not just a moment for political protest, it's not just a moment to express outrage," he says. "It's a moment to do something about it to make real reform and real change. That's the goal of the moment."