Top Stories 2020: Police protests erupt on the East End
In May, an eight minute and 46 second video of a deadly police encounter in Minneapolis shook the world, igniting protests in every corner of the nation including here on the East End.
Mr. Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
On the North Fork, In Southold Town, hundreds gathered June 4 at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic for a peaceful demonstration against police brutality, organized by Southold native Kenny Black.
Later, a candlelight vigil at Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church in Greenport drew 300 people and included speakers, prayers, a recitation of names of Black victims of police violence and the playing of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 song, “What’s Going On.”
Demonstrations were also held in other East End towns, including Riverhead and Shelter Island.
In October, in response to a series of pro-Trump car parades that were held around Long Island, dozens of vehicles participated in a “Caravan for Justice” that traveled from Bay Shore to Greenport.
While the protests have slowed, the demonstrations led to a racial reckoning and reforms to the justice system.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed sweeping legislation that repealed 50-a, a law that shields officers’ disciplinary records from being made public, bans police use of chokeholds and makes it a civil rights violation to make false, race-based 911 calls.
“This is not just about Mr. Floyd’s murder,” Mr. Cuomo said as he signed the legislation in June. “It’s about being here before. Many, many times before. Today is about ‘enough is enough.’ ”
The governor has also mandated police departments statewide to develop a plan that addresses use of force, implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, restorative justice and other issues raised by the community. Reform initiatives are currently underway in both Riverhead and Southold towns.