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Photos by Dean Moses

BY DEAN MOSES

A group of about 300 demonstrators gathered in Hollis Wednesday afternoon as Queens continues to host protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died last week after an officer pressed his knee in the back of his neck to pin him to the ground.

Protests have been generally peaceful during the daylight hours in Queens and around the city, but some have taken violent turns at night resulting in arrests, fires, looting, pepper spray and scuffles with the NYPD.

Police arrived at Hollis Deli, the scene of the protest organized by Opportunities For Southeast Queens Millennials, at 3:30 p.m., ahead of the scheduled 4 p.m. start time. The protesters started to gather shortly after.

 

After the streets were blocked off by police officers, protestors formed a circle where speakers such as Congresswoman Grace Meng, state Senator Leroy Comrie, Congressman Gregory Meeks, and several others addressed the crowd. Some attendees waved signs demanding justice, others wore masks condemning police brutality.

The continuous protests have forced lawmakers to reevaluate legislation, such as the 50-A bill, which allows the review of personal records pertaining to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, correction officers, or peace officers within the department of correction and community supervision or probation department.

“What I want you to know is that in the state Legislature, where I am, we are going to pass 50-A, and it’s getting passed because of what is happening in the streets right now. So don’t devalue what you are doing,” Comrie said. “Don’t devalue the fact that you are making this happen. You have turned the governor, who has been sitting on 50-A for three years because he was just listening to the police and conservatives. But because of what is happening in the streets right now, he has dedicated twice that he is going to pass 50-A.”

In addition to legislation being examined, it was announced today that the charges against Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second degree murder, and the other officers involved are facing aiding and abetting second degree murder charges.

“I am here because I know that America is hurt. I am here because my 10-year-old who has no real life experience, or legal knowledge, saw that video of Mr. George Floyd and knew right away that he was murdered,’ Meng said. “I am here to tell you that we will be better listeners, we will be more effective legislative leaders, and I’m here also to say thank you. It is because of your advocacy, because of your efforts, and the pass few days, weeks, and years, that today in Minnesota, Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded the charges for the first cop, and charged the other three, who deserved to be charged as well.”

The rally concluded with protesters bending on one knee to honor all the lives lost from police misconduct over the years.

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