About 100 people marched from Bushwick to Maspeth to call for the abolition of police unions and to protest QAnon on Tuesday, Oct. 6, only for the demonstration to abruptly end when some protesters yanked off U.S. flags from private homes and set them on fire.
The march was scheduled to take off from the Jefferson L train station, but protesters soon realized the stop was being skipped with no notice, while police barricaded the exits and entrances around the time the demonstration was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Neither the NYPD nor the MTA have responded to QNS’ request for comment by press time.
Protesters gathered at the same stop by walking from the nearest stop.
While they waited to begin, two police officers without masks were seen approaching a pickup truck with the group, telling the driver to get off the vehicle.
When the driver asked why, one police officer — who told other masked protesters recording the exchange and asking where their masks were to back up — could be heard saying that they could either “get a summons or go to jail, pick one.”
The driver picked the summons and followed the police, who wrote them up for having their door “slightly open.”
— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) October 6, 2020
A few moments later, the march began up Flushing Avenue. Throughout the route, marchers chanted “Everywhere we go, people wanna know, who we are, so we tell them, Black lives matter” and “Who is this for? Jonathan Price.”
Jonathan Price was was shot by a Texas police officer in a gas station while he was walking away on Saturday, Oct. 3, according to the New York Times. The 31-year-old intervened between a man assaulting a woman before the police officer, Shaun Lucas, fired a taser then his gun at him, according to Price’s family lawyer. Lucas has been charged with murder, but his attorney recently claimed his actions were justified, according to USA Today.
Tuesday’s protest is the latest in a series of actions in the last few months calling for police unions to be dismantled. In August, protesters marched toward the Bayside home of Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).
This time, protesters marched in the residential neighborhoods where they claimed Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), has property, to call on him and Lynch to resign.
Protesters said police unions “aren’t actual unions;” they “enable and are complicit in the rise of violent white nationalism.”
One protester also mentioned Mullins’ recent appearance on Fox News, where a QAnon mug was visible on his right. QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory, which claims the world is run by a Satanic cabal of child-abusing elites intent on ousting President Donald Trump, according to Business Insider.
Mullins has denied comment on the mug and whether it was his.
“This is what happens when you run the cops like they’re a political organization,” one protester said through a megaphone when the march stopped in a residential area of Maspeth. “This is what happens when you have a f—— QAnon mug in your Zoom background, Ed. What happened to white people? I’m not white, it’s not a rhetorical question, what happened to white people? Where did they come from? What do they want? Where are they going? Answer that question with another question, what came first, slavery or racism?”
Throughout the march, more than seven police cars and unmarked vehicles trailed behind the protesters.
On the way, another protester called out local Councilman Robert Holden for voting against the 2021 fiscal budget that called for a $1 billion cut of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget. Recent reports state the cut protesters called for was not actually instated.
Once it became darker, protesters became more agitated. Some of them began yanking U.S. flags and flag poles off of residential homes then spray painting them with words like “stolen land.”
Once residents began hearing the audible cracks and snaps from their U.S. flags, some began coming out of their homes shouting at the protesters for stealing their flags.
A fight between residents and protesters almost broke out, but police on bikes and other protesters called on the group to leave. One protester shouted, “go home” to one resident who shouted back from his porch, “I am home. Why don’t you go where you came from, you goddamn idiot?”
— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) October 7, 2020
Protesters then put the flags in a pile and set them on fire.
— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) October 7, 2020
Police on bikes then swooped in before the fire grew too large, causing protesters to disburse at about 8:30 p.m. No arrests were made.
A day after the protest, Holden took to Twitter to address the night’s events.
“I will not allow anti-police rioters to steal and burn the flags we proudly display in front of the homes we worked so hard to own. I proudly support the [NYPD] and will continue to fight for public safety and the quality of life in our district,” he wrote.
Additional reporting by Dean Moses.