'We need to get back to business': Group that organized rally says aggressive protesters were distraction
The group that organized a "reopen" rally this week in Commack that has garnered national attention says the protesters who got aggressive with a News 12 reporter do not represent them.
As News 12 has reported, video of protesters confronting News 12's Kevin Vesey at the rally has gone viral, even being shared by President Donald Trump.
The rally was organized by a group called the Setauket Patriots. The group says the protesters who became aggressive were a distraction from the main message of their event.
David Zere, a spokesperson with the Setauket Patriots, says 95% of the people at the event were families who are legitimately concerned about their financial wellbeing because of the COVID-19 shutdown, and says a small percentage were the people who confronted Vesey.
The group posted an apology on Facebook and a picture denouncing three people who were seen in News 12's coverage. However, that picture has since been deleted. The Setauket Patriots claim that none of the protesters involved in the on-camera confrontation are part of their group.
"Government money does not help us; it's not an economic generator," says Zere. "We need to get back to business and we need to feed our families."
The organizers of the demonstration say they are also concerned about people's mental health, especially their children, as the summer months approach.
Zere says his commercial real estate business has taken a big hit, and if the economy doesn't open back up soon, he's afraid some of the properties he manages could remain empty.
“I'm not ready to throw away my career, my livelihood, the lives of my family,” he told News 12. “Why is it only Republican states open up?”