BY DEAN MOSES
On Monday evening, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Juniper Valley Park’s basketball court located on 80th Street and Juniper Boulevard North to march through Middle Village in support of the NYPD.
Over the last several weeks, thousands of people all over the world have protested against police brutality after the killing of George Floyd, demanding both justice and police defunding. There are those, however, who are lending their support to the NYPD.
At 6:30 p.m. on June 22, NYPD backers congregated on the sun-drenched concrete clutching homemade signs and brandishing American flags. While many attendees practiced social distancing by wearing face coverings and using hand sanitizer, there were also many who refused masks when offered and even berated others for wearing theirs.
Before the event commenced, organizer Phil Wong, who is also the president of Community Education Council for school district 24, explained his reason for the public display.
“I feel that the looters, who I saw in Queens Center Mall breaking windows, had nothing to do with Justice for George Floyd. The looters seem to exploit this topic. They are here to disrupt. They are here to start chaos, and they are here to start their own revolution,” he said. “And they know how to do it. You get rid of law and order and then they are in charge, they will say what is legal and what is not legal.”
The Queens Center Mall was not looted, according to the commanding officer of the 110th Precinct. On June 1, there were reports of a possible looting, which caused the mall to be boarded up with plywood and have an increase police presence.
At 7 p.m. the rally, led by a police escort, took to the streets of Middle Village. Chants, most of which were led by Charlie Vavruska, such as, “How do you spell hero? NYPD!” and “Blue Lives Matter!” echoed throughout the residential community.
Former Assistant District Attorney Jim Quinn, who was kicked off the ballot for the Queens borough president race for only filing for the special election and not the primary election, joined Wong and two other individuals in holding a banner that read, “We Support the NYPD.”
The demonstrators only grew in numbers as locals left their homes to join their neighbors. Their pro-NYPD stance drew the ire of some onlookers who heckled marchers by yelling, “Black Lives Matter!” and raising their fists skyward to symbolize their displeasure.
The exhibition commenced with a fleet of motorcyclists leading those on foot back to Juniper Valley Park in the twilight.
Additional reporting by Angélica Acevedo.