George Floyd Protests Growing In Size In Nassau County

Sophia Hall
June 05, 2020 - 2:47 pm

    MERRICK, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Protests in Merrick have been getting bigger with each day this week and last night's demonstration was the biggest yet.

    On Thursday, more than 6,000 people took the streets in Merrick, shutting down Sunrise Highway before marching onto the Southern State Parkway.

    Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said it remained peaceful.

    "The message is peace. This is not anti-police, even though some of them were using signs against the police, this is about peace and calm. That's what the community wanted. Yes, there's a lot of unhappy people here this morning, I'm one of them, I didn't want to have to go through what we went through last night, but it was peaceful. We were able to get through it, and if none of my cops get hurt, and none of my people in my community get hurt and nothing gets damaged I take that as a win," Ryder said.

    One woman did confront the protesters, however, Ryder said the situation was diffused.

    "She got surrounded by a group of protesters at that point, I actually stepped in between and then several protesters stepped in between me and them and said, 'No, we're not going to do that. We're not doing that,'" Ryder said.

    There was a small fire inside a car belonging to a protester at the train station. It's being investigated.

    "We're looking into it to see if there was any possibility of an arson," Ryder said.

    Ryder said the police department supports peaceful protest, but draws a line at violence and criminal mischief.

    "We draw two lines in the sand: you're going to bring violence or you're going to bring criminal mischief to Nassau County, we will enforce the law. If you're going to peacefully protest, I don't need to draw a line in the sand and stop a group of thousands to try to get past me. That's confrontational and that's going to cause a problem," Ryder said. "I think I walked about 15 miles last night. But they all were peaceful. They were loud, they were boisterous. The community came out and cheered and clapped."

    In the county, the nearly 30 protests have all been without any arrests and considered peaceful.

    Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released a statement about the protests Friday afternoon saying, "Nassau County continues to monitor protests in the County while taking every precaution to keep residents, businesses, and the community safe. Thanks to the cooperation of residents, protestors, and the outstanding work of the Nassau County Police Department, we’ve had peaceful protests with zero arrests and no one hurt. I continue to have the utmost confidence in our residents during these challenging times, and I believe our communities will emerge stronger and more united if we continue to stay calm, listen, and respect one another. Motorists should expect traffic delays today on Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road from the Valley Stream train station to Wantagh Parkway due to peaceful demonstrations. There may also be closures on nearby roadways, but all major parkways will remain open."

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